Book Review: Michael Freemans Photographer’s Eye and Photographer’s Mind

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in Blog | 2 Comments

This is a review of a couple of books by Michael Freeman, The Photographer’s Eye and the Photographer’s Mind.

I am not a big reading fan.   I tend towards Science fiction or Historical based fiction.   But non-fiction…. not so much, unless its a subject that I am currently interested in.   Photography has grabbed my interest.

I am to the point where I know most of things necessary to take technically correct images with my Canon 5DMkII and 5DMkIII.

But then there is the Art or Composition part.

I think we are all pre-disposed to being naturally talented in certain areas.   I think I have a talent for math and science.  I also seem to be able to have good hand eye coordination.  I was able to fly USAF jets, test rocket engines, sail big sail boats almost instinctually.

But ask me to do a sketch, some color matching, or organize some objects in an pleasing manner ….. I turn into a bungling idiot.

Good Photography is ART.   There are those who can see and imagine a great composition of blending colors, contrasts, and subject material…..and then there are the rest of us.

The rest of us have to learn it, memorize  it, experience it and then hopefully remember what we did right and what we did wrong.

But, I think, we can LEARN it…… and maybe get close to those who can do this naturally.

If  you don’t have the time or money to go back to school or go to  photography  seminars (both of which I DO plan on doing) then you can read.

These two books are an excellent start.

The first one that I read was Michael Freeman’s:  The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos

I have read this book 3 times.  I will probably read it again a many more times.  I think every page has at lease one example image on it  AND they are all great images.  One warning.  This book will NOT tell you how to set up your camera.   It’s a book that will explain why we like to look at art and images, why certain composition works and others don’t.  It turns out we are all wired to enjoy or prefer certain aspects of what we see in art.   Artists have figured that out since early recorded history.   I would not have believed it until it was explained in this book and then experienced on my own.  For an engineer it was a real eye opener.   Freeman explains, in some detail, with image examples:

  1. How to frame an image
  2. The elements of design (contrast, rythm, perspective, ect.)
  3. Photographic elements ( diagonals, curves, triangles, ect.)
  4. Light and Color
  5. Intent (conventional, reactive, planned, etc.)
  6. Process (Hunting, reaction, Exploration, etc.)

Most of these terms were foreign to me.  But after reading and seeing the images it really opened my mind to a much better photography approach.  It really improved my images.

So if you are a naturally talented artistic type maybe this book is just a good reference….. but if you are art challenged, like myself,  it will change the way you look at things.

The second book was Michael Freeman’s:  The Photographer’s Mind: Creative thinking for better digital Photos.


Michael Freeman’s The Photographer’s Mind


I think that Photographer’s Eye filled up most of the artistic portion of my engineering mind.   Reading the Photographer’s Mind was more difficult to grasp for me.  It is equally well written, like the “Eye” but the concepts and the demonstration images were more difficult to “get”.   Because of this it was not an easy read for me.   But I think it may be a mental exercise that I should put myself through.   The book is sectioned into Intent, Style, and Process.  Some of the concepts and images were brilliant and hopefully inspires my future work.   Other concepts and images…… I did not like or agree with.   Of course I think almost all modern art after impressionism is crap!  So take what I say here with a grain of salt.

So when I meet someone who is just taking up serious photography I ALWAYS ask ” Have you read ” The Photographer’s Eye “.   I usually don’t bring up Freeman’s other books ( I have them ALL)  because I think they have a more specialized purpose.

So….. If you have not read Michael Freeman’s Photographer’s Eye…… go get a copy and read it….. I guarantee that you will be glad you did.



  1. If you are Compositionally Challenged Read Freeman's Book Photographers Eye
    June 18, 2012

    […] all of his other books. But this one really affected me. So I wrote a short blog about it here: Michael Freeman's Photographer's Eye – a Review And thought I should share this thought on this forum. BTW I do some microstock and i got an […]

  2. Nan
    June 19, 2012

    Here from LULA. You might like Richard Zakias, Perception and Imaging, Focal Press, 3rd edition (4th edition coming out soon). I admit to an interest in learning more about the neuroscience of visual perception.


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