Book Review: Within the Frame

frame David duChemin, author of the PixelatedImage blog, has written one heck of a book – Within the Frame.

Bottom line: if you fancy yourself to be a travel / world / culture photographer – or if you just simply like to take your camera with you on vacation – I highly recommend this book.

At first blush, the potential buyer might be tempted to think that this is just another travel photography book – and – yes – while he includes some timeless instruction on the nuts and bolts of traveling with a camera – David goes beyond all of that:

“This is more than just an artsy-fartsy effort to get in touch with your emotions.  It’s about creating images that others will care about…”

Throughout the book is his encouragement to bring home more than just snapshots of the exotic – as he challenges the reader to extend beyond technical perfection – and to emphasize the relational details – to tell compelling stories.

And, as you might imagine, David compliments his writing with stunning images – where not only does he give us exif data on each image – he also gives us a glimpse of what’s happening behind the photo.  For example – from his section on The Language Barrier in the Photographing People chapter:

“Take a breath, walk up before you think better of it, and smile.  Shake their hand if that’s appropriate in the culture you’re photographing.  Say Hello.  Bonjour.  Namaste.  Mambo.  Hola.  Win them over with your initiative and friendliness.  Sure, they’ll talk about the crazy foreigner for weeks; it’s only fair; you’ll be showing people the photographs for years.”

And though I’ve not yet met David (or corresponded with him) – it’s his straight talk that makes me want to sit down over a cup of coffee and catch up on old times:

“Almost anywhere you choose to shoot you will inevitably run across the poor, the addicted, the lame, the disfigured.  Anyone who’s ever wanted to shoot for National Geographic might be immediately tempted to take a photograph.  There are good reasons for taking photographs of the excluded and the forgotten.  And there are good reasons not to, not the least of which is the further trampling of their already ragged dignity.”

The book weighs in at 245 pages and reads quickly with bite size sections within each chapter.  Chapters include:

  1. It’s About Vision
  2. Within the Frame
  3. The Artist and the Geek
  4. Storytelling
  5. Photographing People
  6. Photographing Places
  7. Photographing Culture
  8. Final Thoughts

For me, chapters 4 and 5 were worth the price of admission.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Within the Frame”

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review of Within the Frame. I work for Peachpit Press and thought you and your readers would like to know that David duChemin has a special podcast series in the works where he gives his own personal feedback on YOUR photos. You can submit them through flickr and, if chosen, he’ll let you know what he thinks! More info can be found here:

    The premiere episode is now live on Peachpit TV and you can view it here:


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