Seeing my name on the cover of the book as author was a dream to me. Seeing it in the bestselling photography book was a charm. I didn’t imagine my writing journey will start with a photography book. But the idea of blending both my passions was exciting and enriching.
As I started learning and embracing photography, I thought there are many more like me who has got hold of a DSLR or smartphone but don’t know how to make good photos. They’re getting plenty of technical information on camera and editing but they’re not getting photographer’s mindset to keep up with the passion. Hence, the idea of a book came to my mind… Not before I had toiled myself enough to learn photography!
How I learned photography?
The first photography book I read was Stock Photography by Blair Howard. While the title suggests it’s centric towards selling your photos online on stock photography websites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Getty Images, and other similar websites, this helps you with understanding of basics of photography, handling your gears, and editing. The author is an accomplished lifestyle photographer and gets to shoot exquisite locations with his clients. Wished he wrote more books on photography!
I continued to look for more knowledge in specific genres of photography to improve my skills. Books, videos, blogs, articles, Pinterest, Instagram… I followed pretty much whatever was available online to not leave any stone unturned in course of my photography learning.
The mantra I followed was LTPT which is Learn Today Practice Tomorrow. This is not some management guru’s rule, I’ve coined it just now for this post, guys!
Before I end the section, I must mention the book which every artist – writer, photographer, music composer, or painter – should read: The War of Art. Search it on Amazon or Google – you won’t make mistake of finding the wrong book. And once you get this book in hand devour it and follow it.
What I couldn’t learn in those photography books?
As I said, I had no mentor in photography to guide me through his/ her experiences – what works and what doesn’t. The trial, error, self-critiquing, self-propelling, self-motivating and, keeping the up with the passion took longer learning curve than it ideally should have. For example, what goes into editing a photograph may sound fun for an accomplished photographer, but a beginner fails to understand which tool to use, how much to edit, where should he/ she leave editing and how should one envision the final picture!
While books lacked these knowledges, I took such inputs through multiple other mediums like webinars, photography talk shows on YouTube, and podcasts. See, I won’t rely on one medium for all my knowledge. So, I opened all possible channels to build understanding of what goes behind making stunning photographs.
How my photography book fills the void?
As I said, I had no teacher who could guide me during my struggles with camera or editing. Also, we’re heading towards less inter-personal contact society and relying more on what Internet and social media pushes content to us. A formal pedagogy is missing. Or, it’s limited to institutions.
So how can you learn in a situation wherein there’s no one available to hand hold you and guide you through the process?
Learn through other’s experience.
Understand what they did which you can replicate in the given level of knowledge. With this idea in mind, I wrote the book even when I didn’t feel myself like an accomplished photographer. I wrote when I still felt I’m learning but have understood core concepts.
How did this approach help my readers? An accomplished photographer may not relate to the pains of a beginner. A learner at my level can relate better to why you’re not able to go to manual mode in DSLR, why you find editing software’s like Photoshop or Lightroom scary, how you can apply techniques of photography on different subjects or circumstances and, most importantly, how you can stay charged for new photography ideas. I wrote about my experience and lessons I learned.
The book is more experiential less technical. I wrote this book as early as possible in my photography journey so that I don’t forget what went into my learning. Besides, I wanted to stay close to the learning level of fellow photography enthusiast. A professional photographer would write a book from an unconscious bias of how he/ she perceives things as a pro.
You’ll find plenty of books and manuals on camera settings and other technical details. This book has those techno-functional details of photography – with the flavor of my personal success and failures.
The photography book launch journey
The learning about publishing a book exposed me to yet another set of art, science, philosophy, and psychology that goes into writing a book. I read half a dozen books on Kindle on How to Publish Book on Amazon.
Those books helped me with understanding of:
1. How to draft the book
2. How to organize the chapters
3. How to conduct research on a topic
4. How to design book cover
5. How to hire a professional book editor
6. How to publish through Amazon KDP Select
7. How to set-up product page and author’s page, keywords, synopsis, price, and publish content
I also studied about how to leverage Amazon advertising and help the algorithm to show the book in similar category and recommendations of readers who prefer reading street photography books. See how much I prefer to stay thorough in my work. Deep learning. Deep work.
I ruled out traditional way of publishing the book through publishers. Decided to cut through the process of chasing them, convincing them, sending book’s draft, waiting for their nod, and looking for more publishers to whom I can pitch the idea of the book. Three reasons behind my thoughts:
1. Traditional publishers won’t be passionate to launch a fresh author. I had heard/ read the horror stories of new authors.
2. People are reading digital so even if I don’t launch physical copies, I won’t compromise on reach.
3. I can expand my readership to multiple countries.
I’ll leave this idea of writing a book to the headlines for now. It requires a whole book or series of blogs on how to launch your photography book on Amazon Kindle.
Writing book helped me sharpen and structure my photography skills – structuring my thoughts around composition, lights, and techniques. Apart from photography, key lessons I learned with writing book are:
1. Book writing is easier than it felt initially
2. All you need is to create first ugly draft
3. Write profusely
4. Write everyday (almost, till you finish the first ugly draft)
5. Let your writing marinate for reviewing later
Alright, writing and photography will continue now. Expect few more titles in coming months and years. Till then, enjoy my learning stories in my blogs.
I published my fist book on Street Photography, the topic which is closest to my heart. I specifically love shooting portrait of strangers in the streets of cities from various countries. In course of photography, I like engaging with them and taking short interviews of locals about their living, culture, and unique of their country and city.