I must admit that while I know photographers who do extensive research on a location before visiting – so as not to miss the shot – my photography tends to be much more spontaneous. As an amateur photographer my photography is primarily for my own creative endeavours and so I am afforded that privilege but for the most part I am a making lemonade kind of person.
I don’t know how many photography books I own… 3-4 dozen, probably, but my longstanding favourite has always been “Photography and the Art of Seeing” by Freeman Patterson (and not just because he’s Canadian). He sets aside all of the (inherently valuable) technical aspects of photography and focuses (so to speak) on learning how to see and how to envision what you see as a photograph. It’s the one book I recommend most, especially to beginner photographers. Marcia is a self-avowed cell phone photographer who used to be able to claim she didn’t know an f/stop from a door stop. She said Patterson’s book changed her world.
The Photographer’s Eye & The Photographer’s Mind by Michael Freeman and several of David duChemin’s books are also good in that way, but Patterson’s is still my favourite.
Mike Nelson Pedde