Book Review – Why Photographs Work

Why Photographs Work: 52 Great Images: Who Made Them, What Makes Them Special and Why

By George Barr, Published 2011

I read a lot of photography books and many offer new (to me) techniques or focus on a specific genre. However, Why Photographs Work has opened my eyes to photography in the way that my fine arts elective in college opened my eyes to art in general. Oh what I’ve been missing!  If you want to “learn” to appreciate photographs beyond a first impression, study this book. George Barr is an exceptional observer and brings an honest eye to all fifty-two photos in this book. What’s additionally helpful is that he’s included thoughts from the photographers. Sometimes they complement one another. Other times the interpretations differ. Either way, I find myself appreciating the image more than when I first looked at it. I also enjoyed the biographies and the website links which introduced me to many brilliant photographers. Many of the images are captured by film and large format camera, but there are some digital and even an iPhone image. If you’ve gone to photography school, this may be familiar territory, but if not and you love photography, you will probably enjoy it as much as I did.

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Recommendation: A must read for any serious photographer

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