88 Secrets to Selling and Publishing Your Photography

by Scott BourneThe strength of this book is that it is short, direct, and filled with ideas. It can even be a good resource for businesses other than photography. I, personally, didn’t get that much out of this book, but I suppose that’s because the author and I think alike (at least in matters relating to this book). While many people raved about the book –and for good reason– I found myself thinking, “I already do that,” or “Doesn’t everybody already know that?” Yet, I stand by my original statement: the book is short, direct, and filled with ideas.

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Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer

by Tad CrawfordI suspect that most people who buy this book will be somewhat disappointed, not because the book isn’t good, but simply because most people who want to become a freelance photographer are the type of people who get an idea and then run with it. This book does a good job of laying a foundation of knowledge that a photographer needs to run a business, but often times it’s not until something becomes a problem that a freelancer would turn to a book like this. Chances are, the people who will read this book want answers to a few specific questions (e.g. “How much should I charge?” “What camera should I use?” “What should the contract say?”) If you’re looking for something cookie-cutter like that, I will suggest that you shouldn’t try running a business of your own. It’s hard work, and too many businesses fail because people are trying to get away from work. The real benefit of this book is how it can work as a launchpad for your own ideas and work flow. In conclusion: it’s a good book if you give it a fair shot, but it represents a lot of hard work that can’t be accomplished while merely reading.

Learning to See Creatively

by Bryan PetersonAh yes, another photography book. If you’ve read the preface to my photography book, then you already know how I feel about them in general. Unfortunately this one succumbs to the same shortcoming I see in most every book about photography. It starts off with great enthusiasm, but it doesn’t take long for it to become redundant. As is often the case there are a few great tips sprinkled throughout, but I don’t think it justifies the purchase. Readers should note that this book was written as a complement to his other book Understanding Exposure. This one focuses on the creative, artistic side of photography (at least, it claims to) while UE helps explain the technical details of aperture, shutter, etc. If you’ve never read a photography book before, then it might be worth your while to pick up these two (of course, you’d probably rather read mine =) but otherwise I’d tell you to spend an hour skimming through it at your local bookstore.

Scribbling in the Sand

by Michael CardThe subtitle of this book “Christ and Creativity” simultaneously grabbed me and resonated deeply within me. “At last!” I thought, “someone is putting together the fact that God is a creative being and that we should look to Him for creativity.” Unfortunately, the inspiration didn’t carry through beyond the cover. The premise of the book is that we are created in the image of our Creator God, but it makes one feeble attempt after another at explaining how to embrace that and live it out in our daily lives. The book is filled with weak analogies of how Biblical events were intrinsically linked to creativity. Honestly, this is the sort of thinking that has bound Christians to mediocre work for far too long. I was sorely disappointed. (I struggle with giving this a mere 1 foot because I firmly believe in “criticizing by creating,” but I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it just because it claims the name of Jesus. If we have to encourage other Christians to support something, then perhaps it’s not worth supporting in the first place…)

For Men Only

by Shaunti and Jeff FeldhahnThis is the much anticipated companion book to For Women Only. It follows the same layout by revealing seven common misunderstandings men have about women, and then it spells it out in a language us men can wrap our minds around. I’m not sure if men will ever really get women, but this book significantly narrows the gap in our understanding. There are a couple points that I might argue are out of balance, but that does not negate a man’s responsibility to treat women the way God commands us to. I suggest that women read this book as well. After talking about a few points in this book with my sister she said, “Oh, that makes so much sense! I want to read that if for no other reason than to learn something about myself.” I don’t have much else to add. Read the book. Let it soak in and manifest itself in the way you treat the women in your life.

The Smell of Sin

by Don EvertsAs you browse the “Christian Living” aisles of most bookstores you don’t find too many books about sin. There are countless books about living the life of your dreams and how God wants to bless us, but this book takes a refreshing yet disturbing look at sin. It’s a great reminder for those of us who have grown comfortable in our faith; without an understanding of our need for a savior we don’t fully appreciate what He has done for us. It helps give us a clearer picture of how God views sin, but it doesn’t lose sight of the fact that Jesus came that we might have life. It’s a short book and well worth your time to read it.

Blue Like Jazz

by Donald MillerIt seemed that no matter where I turned, I kept hearing about this book. I finally bought it myself to see what all the chatting was about. Somewhere around the middle of the book I found myself wondering, “Is this book popular because people like it, or do people like it because it’s popular?” Maybe my expectations were too high, but I honestly don’t remember having (m)any expectations going into it –mostly just curious. It’s a refreshingly honest read from an imperfect author (at least, one who actually admits it) and there were three or four points that really grabbed me, but for the most part it felt like a lighthearted read about Christian Spirituality. Even though this one didn’t rock my world, per se, I think we need more books like this –honest, real, imperfect. After all, we’re still a work in progress.

The A – Z of Creative Photography

by Lee FrostFrom my vantage point in the bookstore this book looked promising. Each page describes a new technique which means they have to be short and to the point. After 3 minutes of flipping through it I thought, “Man, I just learned a few really cool tips.” Sadly though, in addition to being a bit dated, that’s about as far as this book goes. The author understands the over saturated market of photography books, so he attempted to create a niche with this one: creative techniques (i.e. photo ideas). It’s a good source for quickly generating some ideas, but so is the internet. The main advantage this book has can also be a disadvantage: it explains how to achieve various techniques. When you ask yourself, “How’d he do that!?” you end up teaching yourself by thinking about it until you come to a conclusion that satisfies your conscience. That’s an education far greater than this book.  (Note: there is an updated “digital” version of this book that I have not read, nor do I plan to.)

For Women Only

by Shaunti FeldhahnMy curiosity got the best of me, and I’m proud to admit it. Every woman needs to read this book, and it’s not a half bad read for the rest of us guys either. In short, it points out seven key areas that women think they know about men, and then it goes on to explain how things really work in the male world. It’s an eye opener, for sure. Admittedly I was a bit skeptical when I noticed that it was written by a woman –“Seriously, what does she know about being a guy!?” I thought. However, skeptics can rest assured that everything she writes is based on hundreds of survey responses from men, and every guy I know who has read it ends up saying the same thing, “Yep. She pretty much nailed it.” Ladies, do yourself (and your boyfriend/husband/relationships) a favor and read this book. Gentlemen, let’s start being gentlemen and pick up the companion book for dudes. Highly recommended!

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger

by David GregoryConceptually, this book piqued my curiosity. It’s a fictitious story about a guy who gets an invitation to have dinner with Jesus. “Wow!” I thought, “Wouldn’t that make for an awesome conversation,” and then my mind went on to fill the pages of the book with Jesus speaking pointed truths into this guy’s life and how it relates to me. After having built up these expectations I began to read the book only to discover that it went off in a different direction than I had hoped. I realize that my interpretation of this book is based on the fact that it didn’t meet my expectations, but having finished it, I came away feeling like it would be better described as a gospel tract –better suited for skeptics of Christianity who perhaps have never considered a “religion” centered around a relationship with Christ. All in all, it’s a decent read. You can read it in one sitting –heck, you could read any book in one sitting if you can sit that long =) It’s not a book you read for encouragement or inspiration as much as it is one you would read for a short escape.