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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Captured - A Book Review

The world is overflowing with photography books, websites, magazines and blogs. At times I am on information overload by all the details and different positions on what this whole photography thing is all about. Having been schooled in photojournalism, and actively involved in photography for 15 years, I did not hold out much hope for fresh ideas in Moose Peterson's latest book: "Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer."  Captured is a paperback 396 page book published by Kelby One, a well known, established business known mostly for its online training for creatives.


This book did not disappoint me as it offered a fresh perspective on wildlife photography and photography in general.  You will not find long, detailed explanations on how to calculate exposure or operate your camera.  Captured, does get into technical details from time to time, but to me it is more about Moose himself and what it took to get where he is today.  It is an autobiographical view that takes the reader on a journey from humble beginnings to being a well known and respected wildlife photographer.  
I wanted to focus a bit on the "humble beginnings" and how Moose started his career.  As you know, photography is not a cheap career to get into, and Moose does a wonderful job relating that to the reader.  He talks about how he started out with shorter lenses and had to work at a local camera shop to make ends meet. How he later worked for a "pro" photographer who told him he would not ever be a good photographer, and should stick to wood working.  This portion of the book meant a great deal to me as this is how I started out, and how I am sure many of you did, or are doing now.  I could really read between the lines and get a feel for the sacrifice he and his wife made early on in his career.  As for his less than inspiring boss, I think we can all relate to someone who has tried to block us from our dreams and run us down whenever possible.  I still deal with the naysayers and dream killers on a daily basis and if anyone reading this ventures into any creative fields you will see the same.  You have to keep moving forward and keep living the dream.
As Captured continues, we follow Moose on various life changing assignments, and how he worked for biologists in the field, and how he used those contacts and knowledge gained to better his career.  Moose also shows the reader just how much he cares for the wildlife by helping biologists photograph animals near extinction, and show their plight to the world. Some even credit him with the saving of some species completely.
The book does go into detail about each of the life altering shoots that Moose was a part of, and how he photographed each subject on those adventures.  So for those wanting technology and technique you have come to the right place.  The book discusses such topics as how Moose used flash to capture nighttime animals, and what lenses he favors under certain conditions.
Finally, I like the way Moose weaves his family into the book.  He shows how his wife and kids were instrumental in his career.  Specifically, how Sharon was so effective at keeping the business side of his career in shape, while he was off on shoots or in the early days, working a second job.
As far as the layout of Captured,  it is filled with color images taken throughout Moose's photography career.  Images from the early film days right up to 2010.  I did find many of the images to have a muddy look, but that is likely due to printing error and choice of paper rather than poor photography.  You would have to use extremely high quality paper to get magnificent results, and the book would have cost a fortune to create.  Additionally, the book is full of pull quotes and blurbs offering the reader a good bit of Moose wisdom on each page.  I did find the size of the book a bit awkward.  For example, trying to drink my coffee and hold the book on my lap while turning pages was a trick for sure.  I recommend a nice table for reading this book.
Although Moose and I have differing styles and different brand cameras (a joke of course), that didn't stop me from enjoying this book.  This is a book that any veteran or aspiring wildlife photographer should own as it shows one man's passion, and how that passion and the animals he photographs captured his heart.  

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