This may be the most concisely written photography book I’ve ever seen. Freeman is the anti-Kelby. Every word is carefully chosen, every sentence terse and tight. Freeman writes with the precision of a philosopher or a surgeon, as if lives depended on accurate understanding.
That doesn’t mean Freeman’s analysis is always simple. Composition is a complex topic, and Freeman doesn’t hesitate to delve into formal theories of perception, such as “The Gestalt Law of Perceptual Organization” — topics that, in the hands of a lesser writer, would fill mind-numbing chapters with bloated verbiage. Freeman covers it succinctly in one bullet-point sidebar. Done. Next.
The illustrative photos are mostly drawn from Freeman’s Asian travels, and the subject matter can sometimes become a bit monotonous if you’re not a big fan of travel photography. I would have liked to see him mix it up a bit more and include some other styles, but you can hardly fault a photographer for sticking to his own area of interest.
Accompanying many of the photos are sketches illustrating the vectors of movement, or the balance of forces, within an image. I found these diagrams immensely useful, and after looking at a book’s worth of them, I find my eye now spontaneously recognizing these vectors in other photos, and even in my own viewfinder. This is what education is all about—Freeman has imparted his wisdom at a visceral level that is apparently now ingrained in my view of the world. What more could one ask from a book?