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Road to Seeing

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After beginning his career as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper in southern California, Dan Winters moved to New York to begin a celebrated career that has since led to more than one hundred awards, including the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography. An immensely respected portrait photographer, Dan is well known for an impeccable use of light, color, and depth in his evocative images.

In Road to Seeing , Dan shares his journey to becoming a photographer, as well as key moments in his career that have influenced and informed the decisions he has made and the path he has taken. Though this book appeals to the broader photography audience, it speaks primarily to the student of photography—whether enrolled in school or not—and addresses such topics as creating a visual language; the history of photography; the portfolio; street photography; personal projects; his portraiture work; and the need for key characteristics such as perseverance, awareness, curiosity, and reverence.

By relaying both personal experiences and a kind of philosophy on photography, Road to Seeing tells the reader how one photographer carved a path for himself, and in so doing, helps equip the reader to forge his own.

696 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2013

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Dan Winters

17 books5 followers

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5 stars
230 (67%)
4 stars
81 (23%)
3 stars
26 (7%)
2 stars
3 (<1%)
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Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews
Profile Image for Ken.
41 reviews
March 4, 2014
There are books that I get to the end of with relief and others I get to the end with some sadness that it was over. This book fits in the latter category. The end snuck up on me. When I finished I sat there for a while, thinking it over. I have been going through this book slowly over the past few weeks, and now that it is complete I will miss it.

Since this is an art book I should note the book's physical characteristics. It is sized like a typical college textbook and is HEAVY. The pages are thick. The photos are printed well, and type is nice. Beyond that I didn't notice the design, which is good, I only notice it when I think it is a problem. Looking at a few examples now I like how the pictures are given space and nothing is crowded.

The book is part biographical. Some of this I heard pieces of during an interview with Dan Winters. I think it may have been on NPR. That particular detail is lost in my memory, but I didn't forget his words. That will be true for the additional items I read in this book. There are parts that I will easily remember for a very long time.

There is a section in the book where he walks us through some pictures and his approach to them. That part feels a little like Gregory Heisler's 50 Portraits book. I like reading these stories. My take-a-way from this section ( and Mr. Heisler's book ) is to always approach a picture with intent and planning. And always have a Plan B.

He also included section on personal photographs. There are two of his son in an older truck that I thought were amazing.

There are other things throughout the book. There is a whirlwind tour of the history of early photography, mentions of various alternative ways to make photos or use photographic materials, illustration, music, beekeeping, carpentry, model making, space program ... its fascinating stuff.

This is the kind of book where I can't say read it because you will learn XYZ. I have no idea what you will get from it, but I know you will get something out of it. It is interesting to see inside the mind of an artist.
Profile Image for Joshua Tintner.
86 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2014
I finished this book with a deeper appreciation for Dan Winters' photos, but also with a profound respect for the man behind the images. This is the first photo book where the photographer's words touched me more than his images, and that is not intended to take anything away from his images (which include photographs, photograms, collage). This is Dan Winters as teacher and mentor; yes, he provides various levels of instruction on making great images (although no light-setups or detailed tech info, as are found in many photo books), but he reveals that, for him, equally important to the technical training and discipline is a sense of respect and reverence for life and the world. The photographer as philosopher
April 2, 2014
This is a must have book for photographers and photography book collectors. If you don't know Dan Winters work, you should. The Road to Seeing is a passionate, considered, thoughtful and insightful autobiographical examination of his career, and the mentors and photographic work that influenced his personal style and evolution as an artist. This will be a book that you can go back to time and again, and you'll take away something new every time.
Profile Image for Krusher Basta.
89 reviews4 followers
December 31, 2014
This is a great read, not just for the photography enthusiast, but anyone with an interest in art. Dan Winters goes far beyond the technical aspects of his shots, he delves into the entire process including the inspiration that went into his work as well as any lasting effects they may have engendered. There is a particularly poignant story about his coverage of a forest fire fighting squad. Read this book, you will not regret it.
Profile Image for Eric Gitonga.
19 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2014
This is a superb book! Well worth every single penny. Dan Winters does a great job detailing his journey to becoming the artist he is today. And the photographs included in the book are simply amazing. I also got to learn quite a bit of photography history, which he touches on very well.
Profile Image for Ryan Watkins.
671 reviews18 followers
August 21, 2017
Dan Winters The Road to Seeing is one of the most beautiful books I own. This book is part autiobiography and part coffee table book. Winters starts the book with an autiographical look at his career and then transitions into talking about specific commercial images he has photographed. Next he transitions to other art work of his like illustration, photograms, and xerographs. He finishes the book my discussing his personal work which includes a lengthy explanation of the history of street photography. Unlike Gregory Heisler's 50 Portraits or Joe McNally's The Moment it Clicks Winters doesn't go very deep into the technical end of his work. The Road to Seeing is mostly comprised of photographs; not only Winters' work but also images from other artists that have inspired Winters. The Road to Seeing can be read much quicker than your average 600 page book due to the large text, pages with just a sentence long quote, and pages which are just photographs. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Geoff.
41 reviews
February 14, 2020
After years of starting then stopping this doorstop book on how photographer sees photography, his life, his works, and the work of others, I finally pushed and finished it. A thick book, this is only about half photos. The rest is all text on photography. Both (words & pictures) are inspiring. Both are really only starting points into his work and into how to apply it to my own photo work.
Profile Image for Kima Sargsyan.
5 reviews28 followers
September 3, 2018
All-in-all, it is a gorgeous book that I highly recommend everybody to invest in if you are interested in photography. Dan shares so much valuable information about the history of photography, the works of various photographers and interesting stories behind some iconic photos.
2 reviews1 follower
August 15, 2019
Thoughtful and Generous Insights From a True Craftsman

A practical yet relaxed revelation of how Dan Winters work was inspired by his artistic forebears and contemporary associates. A must read for any creative. 5 Stars.
Profile Image for Diego Munoz.
401 reviews6 followers
September 23, 2023
Quite a bulky book. Parts are his great photography, others are photography by other artists as well as his observations and stories. His portrait work is quite distinctive, and the book does justice to his work with good quality prints.
39 reviews
December 6, 2017
As technically brilliant as Winters' photography can be, this book's title says it all. Seeing is a journey, an exercise whether you shoot with a smartphone or a Hasselblad.
December 26, 2018
Amazing book

Amazing book. I highly recommend it to anyone who interested in photography. It is deep personal feelings and experience of one photographer, but beautifully written.
Profile Image for Jack Baty.
71 reviews13 followers
August 5, 2019
I was looking for some creative inspiration. Dan Winters' description of his photographic journey provided.
Profile Image for Eric Guzman.
2 reviews
September 29, 2022
Beautifully printed, digital equally beautiful. Absolutely beautiful pics and thoughtful commentary, worth every penny.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Richard.
210 reviews42 followers
December 30, 2018
I'd rate this as one of the best photo-based books I've ever read. Note, this is not a how-to book, but the perceptive reader will find a wealth of inspiration within its pages on what moves a photographer to make an image. As Dan Winters emphasizes from the beginning page, a firm grasp of the subtleties of our lives can only be obtained by stopping, and savoring the moments we are living. Being conscious of what we are experiencing, and not simply engaging in busy activity, is how we grow our awareness and perception. And this is where photography becomes valuable, because it allows us to hold time literally before us.

Winters has spent his working life pursuing golden moments of photographic creativity. His book contains many examples of the works which have influenced him. Alfred Stieglitz and Henri Cartier-Bresson provided some of his most profound perceptive moments as a student and viewer, although he provides numerous more contemporary examples, along with commentary, printed on extremely high quality paper. This book truly is a treasure.

The book is written as a personal history of Winters journey of discovery of various creative outlets. It's clear from the outset that the book is not a literal prescription on how to follow the author's steps to artistic excellence, since no one else would ever have all of Winters' wonderful life experiences. He emphasizes that creative growth doesn't derive from comparing one person's worth against others; it is the product of realizing great photographs come from those who capitalize on their originality. In other words, original works of expression result from those who produce photographs using their particular viewpoint, knowing each new moment is unique.

The heart of the book, of course, is its collection of Dan Winters' work. This includes his commercial photographs as well as his fine art. His unique vision is shown in some of his earlier black and whites: A ticker tape parade, with only the falling tape in the frame; the Statue of Liberty, with only the crown and raised arm showing above the corner of the base, looking up; a blimp photographed when only its front end has appeared in the sky behind the roof edge of a building. Somehow, there's something about this collection of images that make you want to stop and think about them. His portraits from that period, such as the Texas Ranger, Prostitute, Gang Member, etc. (I'd call it the time before he had the fame allowing him to do celebrity portraits) are usually black and white images of people who aren't smiling and posing for the viewer's attention, but instead are placed in their natural elements, compelling the viewer through selective focus and camera angle, to interpret what is going on inside the frame of the picture.

Winters has, naturally, established a continuing reputation as a photographer of celebrities. These black and white and color images are quite striking. He has a great facility for getting extremely revealing photographs of famous people. He freely acknowledges that some of his photo treatments have resulted in criticism, but he makes it plain that he isn't in the business to meet everyone's preconceived expectations. Centrally located in the book is a collection of celebrity images taken for the 40th anniversary of "New York" magazine in which actors associated with New York the city are shot in a most un-Hollywood style.

There are even some stills from some of his early film projects. Readers will be pleasantly surprised to learn of his background in film as well as in illustration. The book is really a celebration of the art of photography from its beginnings to the present time. His commentary is instructive of the accompanying photos, and very thought provoking.

Get this book and don't pass it along to wherever you recycle old books, after you've read it, unless you want to give it to a friend. Just don't be surprised if you don't get it back. This is worth having at hand, to pull off the shelf and re-read continually.
Profile Image for Alan.
64 reviews
May 31, 2015
This is unlike any other photography book I've read -- and not just because it's some 700 pages in length. Winters presents his thoughts as a photographic memoir and invites the reader to a chat about his formative experiences and learning on the way to becoming a highly successful businessman and artist. I was impressed not only by Winters' enthusiasm and drive, but also by his ability to relate his story in a human and unaffected way. He is unstinting in his praise and appreciation of others -- to the point where I wondered if he had never worked with any difficult people -- but it is refreshing to read an author who attempts candour without feeling the need to pull others down.

This beautifully-presented book will be worth it to people who love photography and who care about the connection between artist and art. I will read it again.
Profile Image for Jennie.
650 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2015
A heavy book but stacked with talent. A must buy coffee table book with a few stars that I had the pleasure to meet and/or brush shoulders with.

Dan's eye is awesome with a great mix of black and whites as well as colour. Candid, poignant, introspective and unique, this book is bound to attract you and entice you to take some pictures.

My only complaint is the weight or it would be 5 stars. I feel like it would have fared better as an oversized book.

Refreshing take on photography as an art form mingled with personal essays by the author.

Must read!
Profile Image for Joe.
29 reviews
August 28, 2016
Dan Winters is one of my favorite contemporary Photographers. This book provides the background for his Path to creativity. Dan provides no technical details for his photography. This is purely a book of inspiration that describes his motivations and interactions as he practices his craft.
A must read for any photographer that emphasizes that the "Why" is more important than the "How".
9 reviews
July 2, 2015
A really good book on photography and the road Dan took to become a photographer. Along with historic facts, there are advices spread across the whole book and references to great masters of photography. Really a must-read for photography passionate.
Profile Image for Katie.
199 reviews3 followers
February 16, 2015
Such an amazing photographer. I learned a ton about him and his work. About photography in general. A very good read and a beautiful array of art within. Happy to have in my collection.
Profile Image for Jim.
27 reviews1 follower
November 1, 2022
A great look into the habits and perspectives of a very gifted photographer. Recommended for any one interested in photography as art or profession.
Displaying 1 - 25 of 25 reviews

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