lens on life book review by michael maersch

What a terrific read!

This is a book about photography. It is FILLED with documentarian or photo-journalistic images from the author, of course, but also by a number of other working photographers she respects as story tellers.

However, I want to make the point right from the start that Ms. Calabrese Roberts is even more-so (in my opinion) an extraordinary writer! She has the uncommon ability to write truly engaging words that explain a concept while providing readers guidance and encouragement in their growth as visual narrators too. Her writing goes down like favorite confections – really, so delicious to read one loses track of the time engaged with her composition and looking at the images she presents to make her point.

Here are the first two sentences of the book:
Life in the present moment is the canvas of the documentary photographer: Life, rich with intrigue, complex textures, layers of story, mixed emotions, spontaneous gestures, brilliant light to warm our souls, and sultry shadows that send us deep into the depths of our imagination…this is our focus. Viewing the world through the magic window that is our lens, documentary photographers are curious beings.” Has anyone explained the intention behind their personal work better than she has here? (And we haven’t yet left the 'Introduction' to this edition.)

“Lens on Life” is refreshingly free of technical notes and post-production recipes, the techno-babble that somehow needs to be so much a part of other How-To guides. But then, it is a book explaining a variety of methods for documenting moments, people, events and places that inhabit our lives.

At last, a book about and celebrating pictures with equally engaging prose as ‘frosting on the cake’. Every picture-maker must have this book in their library.

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