Book Review: The Tao of Photography Seeing Beyond Seeing
by Sarah Ganly
This book discusses the similarities of the Taoist beliefs and photography. It has been very useful to me because before reading this book I did not know anything about photography, and I feel the incorporation of Taoist ideas has helped me understand the ideas of photography easier than book only about photography.
I believe this book has also helped me learn to appreciate timing better. A photograph is such a small fraction of time, and to get the perfect photo you have to be patient but also ready. I enjoyed the patience required, and I also appreciate the idea of readiness and the need to be constantly aware and prepared. This book has helped me pay attention to details by being calmy aware, and I believe the Taoist aspect of this book has helped to stress this point.
I also think this book was very important to me because it helped me develop a greater respect for photography. I think this book helped me understand why people enjoy photography so much; I never truly understood before that "taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second" (Gross & Shapiro, 2001). This book has helped me learn to enjoy photography. I have come to realize that "looking is a gift and seeing is a power" (Gross & Shapiro, 2001).
This book also helped me use photography as a way of meditation that I didn't realize I would enjoy. I enjoyed the author's ideas on the principles of Taoist photography very much and found them inspiring. Some of the principles described in the book are "freedom from the sense of self, receptivity", nonattachment and spontaneity "acceptance and resourcefulness", and "free and easy wandering" (Gross & Shapiro, 2001).
This book was inspiring to me because it helped me become comfortable with the idea of wandering "without a goal, at random" and to "move forward without hurrying" (Gross & Shapiro, 2001). I found this idea exciting, and photographers that create work this way are known as flanur photographers. This idea is motivating to me and some flanur photographers that are "famous for their compelling street photography are... Edouard Boubat, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, and Marc Riboud" (Gross & Shapiro, 2004).
I feel the author of this book is a good resource for information on photography because he is a professional photographer, and he has many of his photos in the book. I enjoyed many of the photographs in this book and felt they illustrated the ideas of the authors very well. I believe the ideas represented in this book are useful to photographers of all skill levels; I also think that someone who has not tried photography would also be interested in this book because it incorporates Taoist principles into its teachings and adds a philosophical approach to photography which makes it less intimidating.