The Secrets to Creating Amazing Photos

This book is a reference, not a textbook. Which makes it quite dull read on compositions but does provide a wide variety of examples — impressive 83 of them. That amount of samples covers quite a range of photographs, but I was not impressed with example photos. Some of the composition diagrams felt like analysis rather than construction techniques. I found it strange as the book is supposed to teach you quick thinking of constructing an image while the environment is changing and you are holding a camera.

What I liked about the book is lots of references to other exciting materials—especially cinematography textbooks. Overall, given how short and easy to read this book is, I’d say read it, but make sure to ignore western cultural stereotypes from the late 20th century.

Highlights & Margin Notes

No matter what camera you’re using, the two main skills to tell your story are composition and lighting.

Then, start sharing your photos with us so we can see your results and hear your stories behind your images. To do so, use the hashtag AYPClub (as I started with my previous book Advancing Your Photography (AYP).

An additional tip: less is usually more. Don’t clutter your image with anything not needed to tell your story. We call this “scanning the frame.” And be sure to pay attention to the edges of the frame as well.

How to Shoot a Movie Story by Arthur L. Gaskill and David A. Englander.

I want to introduce you to William (“Bill”) Francis Palluth (1931–2011). He was an artist, teacher, and author of many how-to books on art. When I came across one of his books Composition Made Easy, I was thrilled to find that he clearly defined and demonstrated sixteen composition formats for painters.

The word “steelyard” describes a device for weighing that has a place for the item being weighed on the right side, and on the left side is a sliding weight to get it in balance, as you can see here. The larger object is on one side and the smaller on the other, as in the painting above. “Steelyard” is a composition format that places a larger object closer to the center, balanced by a smaller object on the other side that is placed closer to the opposite edge of the picture.

Colors can even elicit or suggest their own association and emotions, which you can read about in The Technique of Lighting for Television and Motion Pictures by Gerald Millerson* in the section on Color Association.