Visual Poetry: A Review

After reading (somewhere, don’t recall where) that a photographer enjoyed Chris Orwig’s new book “Visual Poetry,” I decided to pick up a copy to read myself.  Nursing usually affords me an hour or two of reading per day (during the day times when Anja isn’t awake or is playing nicely by herself), and I’ve read through this book in about two weeks.

First: I do not understand the cover image.  Perhaps there is some personal significance to it, and that’s why it was chosen, but it is not a terrific photograph.  The composition is mediocre, and the subject looks depressed.  Weird choice.

When I was in architecture school, most of the professors, while well-meaning, had a very minute grasp on actual practice.  They encouraged passion, creativity and originality.  I graduated with virtually no idea of how to actually practice architecture.  Orwig is a photography professor at Brooks Institute.  He encourages passion, creativity and originality.  However, he is also a professional who gets paid for his work.  Despite that, he has not lost his love for the trade.  Orwig’s outlook as a photographer is refreshing, even if his main foci (outdoor/adventure photography and portraits, from the looks of things) are different than mine.

Orwig thrives in the outdoors: surfing, hiking, camping…these are his passions.  This is very clear in the photographs used throughout the book.  His portraits (mostly surfers and musicians) are relatively strong, but his wedding shots (all from one event) are weak.  If you are looking to get into weddings or family photography, I’d look for an author who has more experience in this realm.

The book is broken into three parts, one each devoted to creativity and technique, tips for the many paths of photography (portraiture, weddings, travel, etc.), and gear and becoming a professional.

I thought the strengths of this book were the inspiring anecdotes and encouragement to get out there and do what you love.  The assignments given at the end of each chapter are great impetus for everyone, from beginners to those looking for renewed vision.

Weaknesses were the repetitiveness of content and the typos (oy vey, were there a lot!).

Overall, I think the book is worth a look-through.  If you read a few of the anecdotes in the creativity section, you can probably skim the rest of them and move on to the last two sections.  Orwig has a website that accompanies his book, so check that out, too.

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