Heisler And The “How I Shot This” Book

Here’s a great post that embodies so much of what I love about Michael Johnston’s blog, The Online Photographer. First, it defines a genre of photography books Johnston calls the "How-I-Shot-This" book, and he cites a few great examples—including works from Ansel Adams, Sam Abell, Galen Rowell and Greg Heisler. This genre of books lives somewhere between straightforward (and typically fairly dry) "how-to" photo books, and the more interesting and inspirational monograph style of book. This genre is a very valuable type of book, I’d say. The post also tackles something I know I’ve been particularly curious about myself: whether or not a photo book could ever possibly be expected to hold up in digital form (i.e. Kindle, iPad, reader, et al). For Johnston, thankfully, it does. With just one caveat. He does a pretty good job of explaining exactly the failings he sees in work that, while acclaimed, just doesn’t float his boat. In this case, that’s the fact that the author isn’t particularly enamored with the work of master portraitist Gregory Heisler. While I certainly don’t agree with the dismissal of Heisler as just another commercial photographer, I do see where Johnston is coming from with his critique. And that’s the ultimate reason why you should read his writing: because he is sure to make you consider the finer points of many facets of photography, from how it is created to how it is published and everything in between. All in all, it’s another example of why Johnston’s TOP blog is perpetually at the top of my reading list.


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