Creative Photography: Michael Freeman’s Fifty Paths

Michael Freeman on Creative Photography really doesn’t need more publicity. However this book published way back in 2016 definitely warrants more exposure.

Freeman ranges widely across photography considering different approaches to being creative with your camera.

His (fifty) chapter headings cover strategy as well as tactics. From “Full Immersion” in your subject area to ideas such as “Unexpected Guests” – the wasp at the picnic.

He provides illustrations of his suggestions with his own images. He also includes pictures from other photographers. None of them are from the usual suspects which is refreshing.

A bit of mystery

The section I most related to were the chapters on leaving things out. I’ve touched on this topic before (Simplify, simplify and the Importance of Editing). It was encouraging to read a lucid description of the entreaty “Don’t Show Everything”. This is something many photographers could take to heart. He quotes Doisneau: “…but you must let the person looking at the photograph go some of the way to finishing it.”

It is so easy to get carried away by the abilities of our modern cameras to get everything in the shot. Many times however our pictures would benefit from a bit of active restraint. Freeman suggests a number of ways we could do that. Usefully he also cautions against the overuse of some of his techniques as being potentially manipulative and thus somewhat counter productive.

Many will disagree about his dismissal of photo illustration as “not photography”. To be fair, he does provide examples of his own of the technique. There’s also one of the best punning picture titles I’ve seen in a long time: Natalie Dybisz and her stunning Away with the Canaries.

High on the “must read”

I suppose the title of the book risks it being taken for one of those internet influenced bait-click articles -“5 ways you can take awesome pictures”. Take the precise number of chapters as marketing hype. The content is absolutely worth persevering with past the heading. In the end, a most thoughtful and eminently practical book.

Other book reviews

Don’t just look. See!

“Seeing Things” by Joel Meyerowitz was conceived as a “Kid’s Guide to Looking at Photographs”, but it works for older kids too. And why is this just a kids’ book? If you can get past the sub title on the cover page, this is a well written introduction to photographs that might just trigger a few of your own brain cells into action.

Continue Reading Don’t just look. See!

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