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Many people would like to “do street photography”, but simply don’t know where to start. Valérie Jardin’s new ebook “Street Photography: First steps and beyond” is a great place for those people to start. It’s also a great read for anyone that already practices street photography. There’s so much information in the book there truly is something for everyone.
In the interests of transparency, I should point out three things…
- Valérie is a friend of mine;
- I laid out the ebook in InDesign;
- Valérie has been kind enough to make me an affiliate, which means if anyone buys the book by following links in this review, I’ll earn a small commission (if you’d like to buy the ebook without using my affiliate link, you can do that here).
These three points do nothing to change my views of Valérie’s ebook. Obviously I like the layout, but it’s the content that’s important here and there is a lot of very, very good content.
A passion for life
A lot of people profess to be street photographers, but the number of people who excel at it are few and far between. I’m happy to say that Valérie is one of the few. In my opinion, Valérie is one of the modern day masters of the genre. She’s driven by a passion to capture life on the streets; to find the extraordinary in the ordinary; and to help others do the same.
I’ve been on four of Valérie’s workshops and love the way she teaches. Valérie is down to earth and gets her message across in a simple and sincere way. It’s obvious that she is just as passionate about teaching others how to see as she is about her own photography. This ebook is no different.
“Street Photography: First steps and beyond” is well thought out. It’s not a “how to” in the sense of telling you what gear you need and what settings you should use. To the contrary, Valérie really doesn’t touch on gear much at all. There is a small section that deals with the gear, but for the most part it’s not mentioned. To quote Valérie…
“If there is one genre in photography where less is more, it’s definitely street photography”.
Valérie’s advice really boils down to using the camera you’re most comfortable with. The camera is only a tool to make the images you see in front of you and you as the photographer are solely responsible for capturing them. It really doesn’t matter whether you shoot mirrorless, with a dSLR or even a smartphone. Use what you’re comfortable with and go out to make photographs!
What’s in the book?
So, if Valérie doesn’t talk about the gear you need to use, what does she talk about? There’s a whole raft of subjects covered in the book…
- Is it legal and do you need permission?
- Is it ethical?
- The fear of photographing strangers
These are just a few of the sections in this ebook. The subject matter is wide ranging and delves into how to get started and how to improve your street photography. The title “Street Photography: First steps and beyond” is exactly what the ebook covers. It’s everything you need to know if you haven’t done any street photography before and would like to get started, as well as how to ‘up your game’ if you’re already a street photographer.
Reading this ebook lets you take a peek into Valérie’s mind. You get to see her thought processes as she describes what makes a strong street photograph. So many people today snap a photograph on the street, but it doesn’t say anything. There’s no story. Just because an image is captured “on the street” doesn’t make it a good street photograph. There are lots of weak images posted online in this genre, which is fine, because everyone has to start somewhere. The challenge is to grow and learn; to improve your images and become more discerning when you make street photographs. This ebook gives you the knowledge you’ll need to take those steps towards making stronger images and telling stories with your photographs.
Join Valérie as she talks about composition, light and the various techniques you can use to improve your photography in general and street photography in particular. Of course, a photography book is nothing without photographs and this book doesn’t disappoint in that regard either. There are 76 wonderful photographs in this ebook that illustrate everything Valérie talks about. There are a mix of both colour and black & white images, all worthy of being hung in a gallery. “Street Photography: First steps and beyond” is a great resource. It’s written in an easy to understand style and flows from subject to subject in a completely natural way. You can pick it up and read a section in isolation, or you can read it from cover to cover. Either way you’ll come away enriched.
Don’t just take my word for it though… here are some reviews from people that have already bought this ebook –
“Valerie is THE expert on street photography and this book contains everything you need to know about photographing in the streets. First Steps and Beyond is an absolute gem and a must read for street photographers. Valerie shares her very practical and expert advice for all levels wanting to learn and improve their skills. This ebook is so easy to read and follow and it includes beautiful photographs and examples that complement the subject and text. It covers so many broad and important topics for anyone who enjoys traveling to new places and wants to photograph with confidence in the streets. The book is well written, nicely organized, and covers every aspect of the genre. The only thing better than this book would be to make it real and join Valerie on one of her amazing workshops. You won’t regret it!”
~ Chris Payant
“A wonderful book with terrific inspiration. Can’t wait to put your advice into action. My favorite piece of advice was about shooting in various night lighting, crank up the ISO and let the deep shadows fall where they may. I have been intimidated by shooting at night and losing detail in the past. I’m excited to try again. Thank you!!”
~ Angela Fulks
“Street Photography: First Steps and Beyond. As I read it, this book is written from the perspective of a photographer-teacher wanting to help students find their vision in the street photography genre. And having taken four of Valerie’s workshops myself, I can say that what you read is the authentic Valerie Jardin.
Authenticity comes through because Valerie writes in a direct manner, much like how she teaches her workshops. She prepares her students with some general parameters – mirrored in the book – and shows numerous examples to illustrate the concepts. This is reflected in the book’s topics, like giving information about how to observe people on the streets, what’s ethically acceptable to photograph, the idea of minimalism as a design concept, how to start with performers, and how to incorporate the urban environment into images. She even gives you tips and tricks on how to approach people if you are not used to doing it.
Not laden with heavy jargon, Valerie writes in a way that helps the average person understand the basics of design as it relates to street photography. She covers topics like compositional framing, isolating subjects, using natural lighting, and making eye contact. But don’t confuse this with a “how to use a camera” or “the ultimate guide to photography” book. You should know some basics, like what depth of field is, the Rule of Thirds, aperture, and so forth. Street Photography: First Steps and Beyond is about taking your talent and applying it to the genre of street photography.”
~ Alec R. Hosterman, May 11, 2016
“I just finished reading Valerie’s new ebook ‘Street Photography-First Steps and Beyond’. It’s really a must read for those of us interested in learning the art of street photography. It’s well written, gives great examples through Valerie’s own images and makes a great foundation from which to begin…or get better for that matter. It’s 76 pages long, or should I say “short” I couldn’t believe how quickly I read through it…and wanted it to go on and on….I will definitely read it again.”
~ Marty Fenstersheib
“I just read Valerie Jardin’s little ebook, Street Photography: First Steps and Beyond. It’s a great addition to my street photography library. She clearly lays out the issues one addresses when doing street photography, and also provides a great explanation of the critical components of great images. Along with this she includes clear examples from her portfolio to illustrate these principles. And it comes at a very affordable price point!”
~ Bill Lindsley
Retuelf has also written a review that you can read over on his blog.
If you’re interested in street photography, then you really should check this ebook out.
Learn more about Valérie
Street Focus Podcast: