I thought it might be a good series on the blog to share the books I am reading and how they inspire me. The first post I’m going to start with is 52 Assignments Landscape Photography by Ross Hoddinott and Mark Bauer. I’ll confess that I read quite a few photography books and they are one of my most important sources of inspiration. It can be great to look at great images online, but nothing beats flicking through a good book with a brew.
This is not the typical book that I normally read as it’s more of a guidebook than a photography book. The premise of this book is to provide the reader with 52 weekly landscape tasks to complete over a year, with each task being a new technique or task to try.
Why this book?
I don’t think of myself as being a beginner to photography but by no means an expert, so some of these tasks you might think would be too easy for me. This is where I was surprised when reading this book, it pushes me to try things I may have not done before or revisit techniques that I learnt in the past, that I may have forgotten.
We as photographers are creatures of habit. Once we get a technique down that works, we tend to follow this religiously while tweaking this depending on the conditions we are given. The constant debate on whether settings should be supplied with an image only goes to prove this.
One of the things I struggle with when planning a shoot is knowing what to shoot. Having a project to work on with a fixed medium allows me to go out and shoot with something to aim for.
How the assignments are structured?
When I opened the book and read the first assignment, the first thing that drew me to this book was how the assignments are structured. They are well laid out with tips that might be useful and includes details of any extra kit you might need. The assignments are descriptive enough to point you in the right direction, but aren’t a list of steps, like a recipe. I find this allows you to follow the assignment but you won’t walk away with the same image as every other person who has read the book before you.
The assignments are not just about a technique but about behaviours that are required to become a better photographer. I especially like assignment 24 which talks about returning to a place you have photographed before, especially at different times of the year and in changing seasons.
Why did I choose to buy this book?
I’ll be honest that struggle with motivation with photography, which is largely down to not being able to travel to different locations. Unfortunately, most landscape locations don’t have a direct public transport route. This book was a way for me to be motivated to go out and shoot by sticking to the assignments. One of the great things about these assignments is that they can be done in most area’s as they are not location-specific.
This is a short book (120 pages) that doesn’t need to be read all at once. You can pick it up and put it down as you complete each assignment. It’s also great for focusing on a certain technique if you are looking to brush up on those skills. There are also a number of books in the series that follow the same format but differ in the subject matter. I also own the street photography equivalent. So if Landscapes are not your thing then maybe try another book in the series.
I hope you enjoyed this review and please let me know if you have bought this book or if you are looking to buy the book in the future. I’d love to know how it helped your photography.