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Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  405 ratings  ·  32 reviews
This provocative, visually stunning volume draws upon Taoist teachings to explore the creative and spiritual dimensions of the art of photography. Excerpts from the Taoist classic the Chuang-tzu and the writings of Western aesthetes are complemented by over 60 photographs from the work of such canonical photographers as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, and Dorothea ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 9th 2001 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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Bob Nichols
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
The book applies a series of Taoist meditations (e.g., non-attachment; freedom from self; spontaneity; seeing beyond seeing; wandering without a goal; mindlessness; awaking the boundless, transpersonal universe) to photography. Drawing mainly from the writings of Chuang-tzu, Gross also quotes freely from Taoist popularizers Suzuki and Watts, and Daniel Goleman. He also quotes from well-known photographers whose photos Gross sees as embodying Taoist principles (whatever they might have thought). ...more
Doug Dams
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Tao of Photography is a book that tries to link Taoist philosophy and photographic artistry. The authors want to link creativity in photography with using Taoist philosophy to free awareness of the world around you. The book uses quotes from Taoist philosophers to illustrate how to open your mind to the creative opportunities around you. Instead of the usual formal techniques of photography, the authors discuss the barriers of your own thinking puts in the way of our awareness of our life ...more
Atul Sabnis
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because of a post I read, while surfing for something about psychology and photography. (Don't ask me why, I now, don't remember). But I am glad, I did. It is good book, and probably deserves more than the three stars I have given it.

The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing is a book that may get easily misinterpreted as a book about photography technique. It does talk of camera work, method, and techniques. But it is not a book that teaches you photography. At all; if you
...more
Scott
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
like a good tea it gets better with more consumption over frequent intervals interspersed with thought.
this book is intended for its readers to spend time on the side thinking deeply about perception and the world around us.
The insights gained come as much from the perspectives shared by the likes of Salgado and Bresson as they do from your own intuitions.
It is a delightful read and a splendid interaction when you see its influence in each evolving frame that you capture ever after.
HINT: get an
...more
Lance Agena
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: photographers, spiritual seekers, artists
This book revealed aspects of photography that are really not covered in any other book I've read on the subject. I know design and I know illustration, but I didn't get photography. This book helped me to realize that constructing reality through the lens is much the same as designing or illustrating. Much of the parallels the authors mention between "seeing" through photos and "seeing" through life can be applied to much more than photography.

The only criticism I have is that there needs to be
...more
Jereme
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
The first section on Taoism and the Chuang-tau is wordy, boring and a stretch. Much of the content was said better and far more briefly by Stephen Shore in "The Nature of Photographs." The rest of this book is comprised largely of quotes from other photographers and artists. Hey, a collection of wisdom from the masters is great. Just don't market your book as something other than it is. The best part about this book is the photos selected to appear in it. They are strong samples of the great ...more
Tara
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Gorgeous photos and thoughtful commentary help envision conscious camera work as mindfulness.
Diana Boariu
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Inspiring
Andre
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is very light on actual techniques that can be used to unconstrict awareness and that's a little disappointing. But as a photography book the images are interesting and the comparison between Tao/mindfulness and the process of creating art is VERY cool.

It still doesn't change the fact that I'm a little disappointed with the books stated mission but, honestly, I've never read any book on Tao/Zen/Buddhism that gave me a step-by-step manual to follow so that I can free myself.
...more
Jimmy
Mar 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a great read, this is the book that every photographer from the hobbyist to the advanced enthusiast/professional should read. It will give you if anything, the guidelines to break free from the confines of rules that sometimes hinder our ability to see past or through the obvious. So if you fancy yourself as a bit of a break the rules kind of photographer, then read it you'll never be the same.
jimstoic
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've read about making photographs. It uses Chuang Tzu's early Taoist texts as the starting point for examining how to make photographs and how to live. It includes images by the author and a who's who of twentieth-century photography: Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, etc.
John
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It really is that simple and that hard.

It should be obvious that there is a profound connection between Zen and Photography. You just have to let it go and it will come. Read this little book with an open mind and it could change your life and your photography. If you let it.
Carolyn
I have read and re-read passages. Scribbled notes in margins and highlighted passages. This book speaks to the soul and binds thought with general technique. I loved this and know I'll refer to it time and again.
Maggie
Sep 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
I loved most of the pictures, but it didn't really inspire me or tell me how to be a better photographer really. And some of the pictures really were upheld in the eyes of the beholder because I didn't think some of them were that great.
Val Finnell, MD, MPH
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
This is one of my favorite photography books. I love the black and white photos and the quotes from famous photographers. The text is loosely built around aspects of the Chuang-Tzu. Highly recommended in your development of "Great Understanding" of photography and art in general.
Moni Smith
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
The photography was very inspiring. The content was great too. This has naturally been my approach to photography and art in general (I am not a very technical person) but it was good to read about this approach from a Taoist perspective.
Mark Anderson
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: photography
One of my favorite photography books. I find that my photographic eye is better after each read of this book.
Charlene
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful!!! Gross made complex issues very simple to understand.
Philip
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, gift
Beautifully printed and it helped me rethink some of my own work.
Marie
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Letting photographs find you instead of looking for them...this was an excellent read!
Sandra Scott
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book! Not only did it give me inspiration for photography but for life itself.
Absurdnerd
This explores the deeper reasons for practicing photography...and includes many beautiful photos. "Leap into the boundless and make it your home!" :)
Diane
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic spiritual information whether you enjoy photography or not. Wonderful book! Great photos!
Oblio
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great photos and wonderful insight into Eastern philosophy not just the philosophy of photography, but the philosophy of living.
Tanaya
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Got this from the library on a whim and will be purchasing it for my own collection. Wonderful concept of photography and seeing more than just the subject.
Lynde
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: photography, art, work
I keep this one on the shelf on my office when I need to center myself or need some good quotes. Sometimes I need a good "reset" button.
Michael Rowley
Oct 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Good, not great. The pictures are strong, but not enough of them. The tao musings are just okay.
Kristina
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Stunning book with track-stopping photos from some of the world's most celebrated photogs, plus very interesting philosophy-meets-photography text. Loved.
daniel
Mar 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, art
This is a helpful guide to seeing the world differently. It's interspersed throughout with insights from the Chuang Tzu and with quotes and photographs from famous photographers.
Debbie Hirsh
Really insightful.
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