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Look At This If You Love Great Photography: 100 essential images that really matter

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Look At This If You Love Great Photography is a must read for anyone who appreciates the power of the image. Featuring 100 of the best photographs ever captured on camera, Gemma Padley offers concise, insightful summaries on just what it is that makes each one so special.

Having written for some of the most important publications on modern photography, Gemma draws on her expert knowledge to reveal the fascinating stories behind these incredible pictures, focusing in on why each image chosen represents such a high point in photographic history. Uniquely curated to offer a fresh perspective on the medium, expect to see pictures from legends of the art form, including Ansel Adams and Martin Parr, alongside cutting-edge examples from the studios of the most creative photographers operating today.

Whether it’s gut-punching photojournalism that changed public opinion and made us question who we are, or images that rewrite the rules of photography and blur the lines between other art forms, this is a penetrating rundown of the pictures that really matter and you need to see them.

224 pages, Hardcover

Published June 1, 2021

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Gemma Padley

7 books

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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Alicia Bayer.
Author 7 books187 followers
April 24, 2021
I really loved this collection of photographs and this book was my favorite of the "if you love great..." series. The photos were really captivating and the info just added to it. It's always a good sign when I'm reading a book to review and I keep wanting to read parts to my family (or show them in this case).

I read a temporary digital ARC of this book via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Laura McLain.
Author 1 book24 followers
March 28, 2022
Some of the photos are captivating, some are just weird. The text is informative with respect to understanding the photo and photographer, but distractingly poorly edited.
Profile Image for WorldconReader.
202 reviews16 followers
February 21, 2021
I would like to thank the author and publisher for providing an electronic advanced readers copy of this book.

"Look At This If You Love Great Photography" by Gemma Padley is a collection of 100 photos and accompanying descriptive analysis. In the introduction the author describes this as "a book featuring one hundred photos that people must see... of any genre, from any period in history." The categorization that the author uses nicely emphasizes what is primarily unique and why we should see each picture. These categorizations as well as my impressions of the photos in each are as follows:

- "Breaking the Rules"
It is said that a person learning a new art must learn and follow the rules, and that one of the signs of a true master is knowing when to break those rules. Indeed the pictures in this section were worthy and memorable. In particular, after reviewing this chapter, I spent some time viewing other surreal pictures by Shoji Ueda on the internet. Likewise I liked the humor of John Hilliard's "Off Screen (3), Large Study".

- "Photos That Make You Look Twice"
When I took a photography class, our instructor told us that a good picture is one that keeps the viewers gaze for over 3 seconds. Indeed, nearly every picture in this section held my gaze. Well, this is also true about all the pictures in this book, but particularly this category. The dark humor in Weronika Gesicka's "Untitled#52" memorably appealed to me.

- "A Punch in the Gut"
The author warns us in the introduction that "Some of the imagery in this book (especially chapter 3) is of a particularly sensitive nature. These photos don't make easy viewing, but serve as important reminders of what is happening in our world." After I read this warning, two disturbing pictures immediately came to mind. Since I first viewed them decades ago they were painfully burnt into my memory to never leave me. On the positive side, the author is correct that such images should serve as a mighty message of the importance of preventing atrocities. Since I already agree with this message, I resolved to skip this chapter. However, I accidentally glanced at the first picture in the chapter which was indeed one of my all-time two most emotionally painful pictures. I wish with every fiber of my being that our world never had incidences like recorded by Nick Ut's "The Terror of War".

- "Reflecting on Who We Are"
The pictures in this category where philosophical and thought provoking.

- "Flirting with Other Art Forms"
- "Photos that Could Be Dreams"
Both of these sections showed how photographs can resemble other forms of visual art. They were certainly eye-catching and often beautiful. NASA's "The Engines of Creation" was one of my favorites. The concept of a "staged" cinematic photograph that tells a story was a nice take-away from this category.

- "Reappraising the Everyday"
- "Colour is King"
These sections describe their pictures well. All of them deserve some mention, but in particular the the dystopian scifi aspect of Martin Roemers' "Soviet Army Hospital, Juterbog, former East Germany" intrigues me the most.

- "A Wonderful World"
The scenery from this section was fantastic. Placing one of Ansel Adams' pictures from the Grand Tetons on the first page was very appropriate. He is my favorite photographer of all time.

- "Capturing What the Eye Can't See"
I had my highest hopes set on this section since there are so many techniques to take pictures of things we can not see. Initially, I was not expecting photos in this section that could have come from the documentary "The Many Faces of Death." The stop-motion photos were interesting, however, I was hoping to see photos similar to the work of MIT Professor Harold Edgerton. The light painting photo by Picasso was interesting.

I think that this section could be improved by including micro-photography, additional astro photography, aerial photographs such as by Yann Arthus-Bertrand and George Steinmetz, long exposure light trail type photographs, and perhaps even infrared or ultraviolet photographs.

Although I would have removed the emotionally painful pictures from this book, all in all, this book nicely accomplished the goal of introducing pictures that everyone should see. This book contains thought provoking philosophical material and is a valuable artistic reference for photographers.
Profile Image for Online Eccentric Librarian.
2,861 reviews5 followers
April 25, 2021
More reviews at the Online Eccentric Librarian http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/

I do believe this book accomplishes its mission: we have a collection of images that accomplishes something particular: emotive responses, compositional excellence, master plays of light or color, or distinctness/uniqueness of vision. Readers may agree or disagree with the author's assertions or choices but in the end, the collection does provide thoughtful discussions.

The book is beautifully and thoughtfully presented. Each image is nicely placed with blocks to define topic areas: further info, interesting facts about the photographer, references on the photographer/subject, media about the photograph/photographer, interviews or podcasts, and similar types of photographs. It makes for a very well thought-out and comprehensive discussion on the nature of photographs.

The choices are interesting: we have the usual iconic works of Capra, Mann, Haas, Meyerowitz. These are alongside other well known names who are specific to a genre such as NASA's Pillars of Creation or Horst's fashion photos. Interspersed among these are lesser known names so we have a book with a wider interest than the usual images we've all seen. Of course, one could always argue that images such as from Avedon or Mapplethorpe or LaChapelle are oddly missing and would have made better choices in several categories. Especially the Punch In The Gut chapter, which features too many war images and could have used more controversial images that weren't reportage - e.g., Serrano's Immersion.

In all, the discussions are good and the author makes some fine points. The photographs range from the 1800s to the present and feature a wide range of photography perspectives. It's a decent curation and is suitable for photographers and non photographers alike. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Amy Sutton.
867 reviews32 followers
March 9, 2021
How do you narrow down a collection to only 100 essential images? Very very meticulously. I can't imagine how difficult this would be. Padley selected and grouped these 100 images into 10 categories: breaking the rules, photos that make you look twice, a punch in the gut, reflecting on who we are, flirting with other art forms, photos that could be dreams, reappraising every day, color is king, a wonderful world, and capturing what the eye can't see. Any single one of these categories could have held 100 images. The off beat categories were very creative and intriguing.

Experiencing this book could genuinely take you as long or as short as you wanted it to. You could easily flip through and experience each photo then move on. However, Padley has curated each photo to include a description, discussion, and sometimes explanation for the more offbeat photos. There is also a "Google This" list of titles from the photographer that can help you delve deeper into their work. Also featured are a quick bio of the author, a list of printed and visual articles, movies, podcasts or bios featuring the photographer, and a list of photographers who have a similar style.

All of this comes together to create a beautiful collection. At times, there were pictures chosen that I didn't understand or agree with. The only photographers I was familiar with well were Sally Mann and Ansel Adams. This is definitely not a "Best Photographers Ever" list, but there was an eclectic grouping and many images I was not familiar with.

Also, note, that this curator does not shy away from emotionally intense photos. I think I saw more pictures of dead or traumatized people in this collection than many before. This is a collection only for adults and those who can process such things.
Profile Image for Teena in Toronto.
2,156 reviews63 followers
March 18, 2021
I like reading books about photography because I find it interesting to see what interests people enough to take a photograph of it.

The author was invited to write a book featuring 100 photos of any genre and from any period in history that people must see. The book was divided into 10 different categories:

* Breaking the Rules
* Photos That Make You Look Twice
* A Punch in the Gut
* Reflecting on Who We Are
* Flirting with Other Art Forms
* Photos That Could Be Dreams
* Reappraising the Everyday
* Colour is King
* A Wonderful World
* Capturing What the Eye Can't See

Along with each picture were suggestions to Google other images by the same photographer or similar works by other photographers; an interesting fact about the photograph; sources to further your knowledge; movies, documentaries, interviews, etc. worth investigating; podcasts and interviews to find out more about the photographer and their work; and list of other photographers with similar works or influences.

Sometimes when I see someone taking a picture, I'll stop and try to see what they are seeing ... sometimes I see it, sometimes I don't. And that's how I felt about this book. With some pictures, I could understand why it was photograph-worthy while others I didn't get. But that's the beauty of taking photographs ... it's what catches your own eye that's important.

I found it interesting that for a book that contains 100 "great" photographs, the book cover was fairly bland and nondescript.

Blog review post: http://www.teenaintoronto.com/2021/03...
6,037 reviews67 followers
March 18, 2021
So what would be in a book of the hundred best, most notable photographs? Some Muybridge, obviously, "Earthrise" definitely. That woman with a violin for a back, quite assuredly. Perhaps a Spencer Tunick, or something from the days of the race to the South Pole. Ooh, ooh – and that train that drove right through the station and out the plate-glass window on to the street outside. Would it include some classic stills from movies, of the eye-slicing kind and more? Would it include bog standard images, technically, known much more for what they are depicting – burning monks, Lee Harvey Oswald, the King's horse riding over a woman – than for artistic merit?

Well let me disappoint and say this book is seriously kiltered towards the latter. It took until the second chapter – and some amusingly witty photoshopping, not photography – that I could be bothered to read the full page of text that accompanied the image. And the politicised media image, the news reportage, the visual demand we look at something we might well not want to thank you very much – all that was still ongoing. In amongst all that I did want to see, or re-see, or learn about, I did wonder at times if this was trying to define a canon from a Canon (boom tish, here all week) or a political viewpoint.

Oh, and my predictions could only have come correct a couple of times – but everyone knows what really should have been here was the Athena model trying to play tennis and scratching her naked buttock. Two buttocks – I mean, two stars – is very generous.
Profile Image for Annie.
3,396 reviews62 followers
March 20, 2021
Originally posted on my blog: Nonstop Reader.

Look At This If You Love Great Photography is an engaging and accessible examination of 100 iconic photographs presented and curated by Gemma Padley. Due out 6th April 2021 from Quarto on their Ivy Press imprint, it's 224 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

This is a beautifully presented book of photographs, from the beautiful to the horrifying, across the spectrum and drawn from the past and present. Some of the photos are mesmerizing and beautiful - many are uncomfortable or painful to study. Ms. Padley has done a superb job of curating these images; a monumental task to winnow through all the possibilities.

The entry for each image contains the photographer's name, the title of the work, the date, and a description and commentary. Additionally, each of the entries contains further resources for a deeper look at allied artists' works, and further links to explore for similar relevant photographs or videos.

This would make a superlative selection for library acquisition, maker's spaces/photography collectives, artist's studios, classroom, and home use.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
Profile Image for J Earl.
1,851 reviews73 followers
March 22, 2021
Look At This If You Love Great Photography by Gemma Padley is a wonderful collection of images that will move you emotionally and intellectually. Yet the real strength of the book is the way the reader is taken into each image, perspectives that, in the age of photograph overload we are in, we often miss because we are on to the next picture. This book makes a compelling argument for slowing down and taking time to look more closely at photographs.

There are familiar photographs here as well as many you may not have seen unless you're into photographic art and/or journalism. I found myself both looking up additional photos as well as spending some time with a few of the ones in the book. My experience with this book is very similar to my experience with the Look At This If You Love Great Art book. I even did some freewriting based on one of the photographs in the book.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes photography but especially those who might want to know more about ways to look at photographs without a lot of the jargon. This is more like a knowledgeable friend looking at pictures with you and mentioning what they notice.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Debra Schoenberger.
Author 7 books80 followers
February 24, 2021
As a photographer and mentor, I was keenly interested in exploring the storytelling behind some of the world's greatest photographers. From the sublime to the horrific, Gemma Padley explores diverse photographs, prompting us to examine why they are exceptional and why their stories, or lack thereof, are so relevant.

One of my favourite images was taken in 2017 by Alice Mann, entitled "Dr Van Der Ross Drummies" in Cape Town, South Africa. I intend to explore more of her work. The author provides additional information about the photographer, including bios, video links as well as other photographers in a similar genre. "Her biggest coup though comes as a result of daring to make something of the edges off the frame and refusing to be found by those limits", which I found particularly intriguing and intend to use this technique in my own work.

I studied this book on a very small device as a PDF but examining the physical book would be far more productive and educational. I would recommend this guide to everyone who is interested in improving their visual storytelling techniques.
Profile Image for Emily.
50 reviews
February 22, 2021
[eBook kindly provided by NetGallery in return for an honest review]

A wonderful read for anyone interested in the history of photography.

Reading through the book, there's photos I know I would have included and others I maybe wouldn't but honestly? How does one choose? What a mammoth task!

Choosing 100 photos in an age when everybody has a camera in their pocket is a tough to say the least. Each photo has a description from the author, telling you why they included it. There's also a very useful section for each photo on what to read/watch/similar photographers for those who are interested in learning more.

Some photos are exceptionay hard to view but have been included for good reason. Then others, like the photo of Picasso drawing with light which wasn't one I'd seen before, are filled with joy. I found a new favourite photographer. I had to keep stopping to look for more of the photographers work.

It would have been nice to have a bit more about the author themselves in it, a proper bio or similar.
Profile Image for Lucía ✨.
255 reviews39 followers
March 6, 2021
*I was kindly sent this in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley*

I like the premise, it is very interesting. As for the photographs, some of them were good in my opinion, but there were others that I didn’t like very much (also the formatting of this made them a bit distorted, which might be the main reason why I didn’t like some of them). Provocative images are probably my favourites, not because of the image per se, but because of the concept behind them. I really enjoy the things people do with conceptual art. Also, big TW for chapter three!

The texts show good reflections on photography (like what we see depends on how we look and think as individuals); and there are also other things, like philosophical discussions, that I really enjoyed and made me think

I also liked the additional information in the margins of the pages: Like this? Try these; +google this; + read this or + watch this. It showed it is a well-researched book and it is a nice touch by the author.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
57 reviews
May 15, 2021
--Photos that force you to wake up and pay attention--

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley and here are my thoughts.

The photos in this book were carefully curated and arranged into 10 themes, including "Reappraising the Everyday" , "Capturing What the Eye Can't See", "A Punch in the Gut" and seven more.

Each photo comes with a thoughtful description of both the photo itself and background information about the photographer and the circumstances surrounding the photograph. Additional resources to read and other photographers to explore also accompany each photo.

Some of the photos delight, some disturb. These are not glamorous photos, and although it could be called a "coffee table book", it really is an education about the creative, expressive, and emotional power that photographers can explore with the artistic tool called the camera.
2,270 reviews4 followers
March 14, 2021
I recently reviewed another book titled, Look at This if You Love Great Art, and recommended it. I also like this title and think that it is well worth a look. The two books have features in common, especially links to additional resources. This information really gives the interested learner a chance to expand their knowledge base.

Again, the book has fun chapter headings. Some of these include Photos That Make You Look Twice; A Punch in the Gut; Photos That Could be Dreams and Colour is KIng. The photos here are intriguing and often elicit an emotional response in the viewer. The author’s text enabled me to see more in each photo than I might have on my own.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.
171 reviews1 follower
April 18, 2021
This book packs in so much information as well as some wonderful photos. It opens up the art of photography from capturing moments in history to studio-based surrealistic works. Most photography books are coffee table books but Gemma Padley's book wants to genuinely educate the reader on the art form.
Look At This If You Love Great Photography is split into 10 sections such as Breaking The Rules, Photos That Could be Dreams and A Wonderful World. Each photo is accompanied by a small essay and either information on similar photography you should discover, videos/documentaries you should watch or articles you should read.
It is a fantastic book to lead you into so many different genres and styles of photography.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review.
Profile Image for Heather.
177 reviews2 followers
February 22, 2021
Really inspiring book and I enjoyed seeing the alternative views to the usual rules. Each photograph had a summary of when, where, how, why, a critique and further links to the photographer, exhibition, publications and websites to research. Good layout and easy to go back to refer to again. Thank you to #NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book.
Profile Image for Tony S.
181 reviews2 followers
February 24, 2021
This is a brilliant photography book covering various ages and subjects. It has given background to the photographs and other photographers to look at if you liked an image. It is a useful reference book and a lot of thought has gone into the chapters and their subject matter. Some of the images did make for uncomfortable viewing but I can understand the reason for their inclusion.
315 reviews2 followers
March 2, 2021
I questioned the photo choices at first but it does build up to interesting images. It’s nice to see a lot of lesser recognized photographers. I loved that there was a attempt to include female and minority photographers (could do better). The analysis are interesting even If you don’t agree.
Profile Image for Amelia.
42 reviews3 followers
September 20, 2021
An interesting looking at several iconic photographs and photographers. Several photos that i would consider to be greats were missing in this however. That being said, there were several styles and people discussed that i was not aware of.
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