When I am on the hunt for photography books, I am not only looking for good information. I am really hoping for insight, revelatory moments that are not so much about learning something brand new but finding an alternate perspective to how I see the world through a camera.
Larry Fink on Composition and Improvisation does that for me. The book takes you into the mind of the master photographer that goes beyond a discussion of lens choice, shutter speed, and aperture. Instead, he examines how he explores and examines a scene or subject with the intent of doing more than merely produce a visually pleasing photograph. He examines how the subject and the moments playing out in front of the photographer make him or her feel.
Photography, he reminds us, is not a disassociative practice. As objective as the final print may appear to be, the photographer is influenced by a range of emotions and experiences that impact every choice from the subject the photographer chooses to how they are framed in that final composition.
Fink's love of jazz is evident in his photographs and in the way that he describes his photographic practice. He uses all the rules and tropes of photography such as the careful use of shapes, lines, and juxtapositions, but he is not a slave to them. He stresses that though he uses this graphic sensibility for his photography they are there to ultimately serve the story being told.
It is so easy to fixate on the visual qualities of an image, but Fink reminds us of the power of photography to reveal and capture people in a way that reveals our shared humanity. And as a photographer, it challenges me to put a little more of myself into my photographs.