Books Nonfiction Photography

Fade to Gray

I’ve been a photographer since I was about eleven years old.

I still remember crawling through the mud in our backyard in Maine, carving out rivers in the dirt and poking small fragments of plants into the earth until I had created exactly the scene I wanted to capture on my mother’s 35mm Olympus SLR. This was all done in an effort to recreate the sense of wonder that I experienced seeing the towering jungles of Jurassic Park.

It wasn’t long after that that I received my first Kodak digital point and shoot camera. It was low resolution, unreasonably difficult to download photos from, and our computer only had a 6gb hard drive and the most basic of photo editing software, but it was a complete thrill to use. I don’t have a lot of pictures from that camera, since it predated our signing up for broadband internet or keeping a backup hard drive attached to the computer by nearly a decade, but I had a lot of fun capturing photos without the need to pay for developing film.

Taking the time to go out and capture photos is, as with all of my myriad hobbies, a challenge. This is especially true of portraits, since I am eternally surrounded by humans who dislike having their photo taken. Fortunately, my family is very patient about me continually lagging behind to take photos while hiking in the mountains of western Maryland. They don’t even complain when I wander off from the pack to lay on the ground and take photos of flowers against the sky.

And so it is with great pride that I offer you all my first photography book, which will hopefully be followed by many more. I’ve been working on the book for a couple months, struggling to balance instruction with inspiration. My experience writing leans heavily towards fiction, instructional material, and the occasional mad rash of poetry, so composing a book that is intended to share my love of photography with others was complicated. The book certainly skews towards educational, but I hope readers will find delight in the several unusual bits of history and science which I try to explain.

Black & White Photography is intended to be a light-weight textbook of sorts. Combining history, science, and art with thoughtfully chosen challenges to help you become a better photographer. Each of the four core chapters closes with five challenges and five topics for contemplation, all linked to the example photos and photographic techniques discussed in the preceding text. I have paired each topic with a selection of my favorite black and white photos, some of which accompany this post.

You can download a free PDF of Black & White Photography here. If you like it, please share this post with everyone you know and toss a like/follow/etc. to my Twitter, Facebook page, and YouTube. I’d also love for you to check out the asynchronous course based on the book for your kids and contact me if you, as an adult, would like to take any photography classes. I admit to feeling awkward offering classes to adults, as I am by no means a professional photographer, but enough friends, family, and clients have enjoyed my photos that I have finally been convinced that I’m a decent photographer.

Cold is the night but
Colder still is the heart made of stone, turned from clay
And if you follow me
You’ll see all the black, all the white fade to gray
Fade to gray

Jars of Clay