My 144 page book, “The Joy of iPhotography”, published by iLex Press in 2016, is likely not news to any of you reading this post. But I thought it would be helpful here to share a few of my own author thoughts and comments about the book itself and why I wrote it. And maybe a few insights of what I learned along the journey.
Not a Technical Book On iPhone Photography, the book, from its inception, was never designed as a technical treatise on iPhone Photography. Not even close. It has enough instructive content and comments to get you started and wet your taste, but nothing too deep or overwhelming. Again, that was always the design of the book.
Instead, it’s an applicational, even emotional, approach to the craft of smartphone photography – specifically iPhone photography with plenty of photos, motivation and encouragement.
It was, more or less, to be a plain-english “gift book” for those new to iPhone photography. And originally meant to sell in "museum-type" gift shops.
Again, the content is more slanted towards inspiration, not technical instruction.
You’ll be disappointed if you are looking for an exhaustive approach to the subject – the kind you might expect coming from a veteran shooter like myself. On the other hand, there should be plenty of hero tips and tricks within to raelly get you fired up.
Most importantly, you get a really good understanding and appreciation of how I approach the craft of iPhone photography.
My strong belief, when I began writing this project, is that art grows out of the heart. Regardless of what camera or model you use, to discover the true joy (emotional word) of smartphone photography, or any photography for that matter, you need to first learn to connect with your emotional core. Then, naturally and seamlessly, out of that tender, sentimental, hot-blooded connection, you will advance the desire and drive to learn all the technical aspects of photography necessary to becoming a seasoned and accomplished iPhone Photographer.
It was, more or less, to be a plain-english “gift book” for those new to iPhone photography.
Emotions First. Tech second.
In order for your photographs to stand out and become both remarkable and memorable, the technical aspects of your photography need to become almost reflexive, second-nature. Emotions first, tech second. In my experience, based on 40 years of shooting, it’s far more prudent to start wit the creative stuff and not the tech. Have fun with it. Make it a joy to take photographs. Feel your way through things. Don’t get too initially hung up with features and functions. Just shoot, constantly. When you prioritize the creative part of this equation, I promise, the technical aspects will spontaneously and genuinely follow.
That was the exact mantra for this book – inspire people to focus on the joy part first and foremost. Then the tech stuff will write its own conclusions, in each of your shooting paths.
As popular photography author, Henry Carroll, so aptly put it, “I would rather have the right photo on the wrong settings than the wrong photo on the right settings”. Wow, think about that!
It’s better to have a photograph that is emotionally rich but technically bankrupt than one that is emotionally bankrupt but technically rich.
Don’t get me wrong, for you to raise your game in iPhone photography, you need both – emotions and tech. Absolutely. All I’m really suggesting here is that you begin your journey with the emotional part. Then, slowly but surely, acquire and master the scientific and mechanical aspects. What’s the point if you create technically flawless imagery that lacks soul, connection, resonation?
Editing 7500 images
When the project began, I was facing the herculean task of culling hundreds of thousands photos into a manageable collection for the book. I ended up with around 7,500 at my first edit.
At that very point, I knew, firsthand, what the Father Of Street Photography, Henri Cartier Bresson, painfully but honestly said, “Your first 10,000 photos are your worst”.
I had keepers and clunkers – lots of them. More than I care to admit. From that point, I had to then figure out how to do a second edit. To cull down 7,500 shots to 200 shots for the book. Truth be told, this was the hard part. I probably spent more time editing the photos that I did writing the text. But, as a photographer, it was the best part!
Eventually, with the help of a seasoned project Art Director, I ended up with a small body-of-work that inspirationally illustrated most of my talking points. Whew!
(Note to budding authors – don’t underestimate the time it takes to edit your photos for publication).
Lesson here – whether you are working on a personal or commercial project, let someone else edit your work! All too often, as photographers, we get too enamored and attached to the backstory of our photography. We disproportionally assign value to our photographs based on their technical merit rather than the content itself. One thing I have learned, loud and clear, from shooting over 700k iPhone photographs, on 8 different devices in over 30 countries of the world… content trumps craft. In other words, what a picture says (content), in today’s visual economy, is far more important that how the picture was created (craft).
You Don’t Get Rich Writing Photography Books
I got a modest advance for the project – enough to cover my writing and editing time. But I’m here to tell you that writing photography books is not especially lucrative.
I didn’t do this for the purse, I did it for the passion. I learned a long time ago that shooting for the wall (passion, fine art, joy) is far more satisfying, rewarding and fulfilling than shooting for the wallet (client projects). I’ll leave it at that.
Would I Do It Again?
Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, I am doing it again. I’m already writing my second book, “iPhone Photos That Don’t Suck”. In this new book I hope to cover 50 - 75 of my most treasured, proven, insider tips, tricks and techniques for killing it in your own iPhone Photography. If you thought I was gushy about this first book… just wait until this second book hits the shelves. This second book will be more technical in nature than the first. Hoping to get it to bookstores in early 2020. Happy reading!