I received the book Wisdom (Ideas), by Andrew Zuckerman, as a prize in our annual camera club Christmas bash. In it, he interviews and photographs 50 over-65 world figures in an attempt to distill something of the wisdom they have gained in their journeys through life.

A quote from artist Chuck Close caught my eye and I thought I’d share it with you:

“Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of
us just show up and get to work.”

I am certainly trying to approach my photography in that spirit. This post was done pretty much to share that thought, but I should at least do a bit on the book.

Review bullets

  • I got a lot out of the book and read it cover to cover in one sitting.
  • I am impressed that Zuckerman managed to put the project together and get to meet and photograph all these eminent people.
  • Each person is represented by one or more tightly-cropped portraits and I’m not so impressed with those. The subjects are more or less all posed straight-on against a white background and there seems to be some sort of added skin glow. I’ve taken portraits that I like better than these, which is not a feeling I get when I see the work of Jane Bown or Karsh, for example.
  • The website of the book (and film) could be a lot better. It’s heavily based on video and, if your Internet connection is a bit slow, nothing much happens for a long time. There’s no quick way to drop in to see how Zuckerman approached his image processing. There’s a “how it was made” segment but 20 minutes of waiting didn’t produce the answer I was looking for.

There is no doubt that the seniors included in the book know what’s what and have plenty to teach but, as a pure photography book, Wisdom doesn’t make it for me.


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