Photography by Tom Ang (Published by DK Press)

A picture says a thousand words, or so goes the idiom, and the sweep of recent history enforces this notion --  stories have been told through the camera lens for the preceding two centuries and that is only increasing now with the ubiquity of social media and the accessibility of modern digital photography.

Cover of Photography: The Definitive Visual History
(by Tom Ang | published by DK )
While the medium is the message, photography has been the medium of choice. 
In Photography: The Definitive Visual History, prolific author and professional photographer Tom Ang (Twitter handle: @Tom_Ang ) provides an invaluable tome to those new to the genre as well as those experts looking for an elegant hardbound addition to their library. 

Picking up the book and leafing through the high archival quality pages one immediately senses the love for the craft. From the cover featuring Richard Avedon's 'Carmen (Homage to Munkacsi), coat by Cardin', Place Francois-Premier, Paris, 1957  through to the unforgettable images by the likes of Sebastio Salgado, Henri Cartier Bresson, Cindy Sherman, Steve McCurry, Joe Rosenthal, Stanley Forman, Marc Riboud, Luigi Ghirri, Sergio Larrain, Bill Brandt, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Agustin Casasola, Man Ray (the list in seemingly endless) this tour de force is encyclopedic without being academic. It succeeds in teaching and informing without being sterile.

It is necessary to point out that Tom Ang isn't a shrinking violet. He is passionate about his craft, eagerly relaying the minutiae that those with an untrained eye may miss, and he doesn't mind taking a political position.

In Ang's own words:
Anyone with any interest in photography will find something they like. And those who know a lot may find something they don’t like. Because I am not afraid to express my opinion, or to reveal the uncomfortable truths. But I also take you on human stories too.

  • That Robert Capa was literally kicked in the butt onto the Normandy Beaches
  • The leading portrait photographers of New York in the late 19th century were women
  • The Leica was invented by an asthmatic engineer who enjoyed hill rambling
  • The inventors of Kodachrome were world-class musicians
(bold emphasis added)

The 480 pages may be dizzying in its depth for neophytes but the question of treating photography as a visual art practice is clear. Some have argued that art in the modern context has lost its meaning by being commodified for markets but this book, which Ang had originally penned as Photography - the story, gives a narrative that takes us from The Dawn of Photography (1825-1849) to The Digital Age (2000-Present) with an homage to the artistry and the technology.

We recommend this as a great addition to anyone's bookshelf but more so with the holidays around the corner.

Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea that talent combined with 10,000 hours of practice can lead to greatness. Well there really isn't a better place to start for anyone, be they casual learners or voracious autodidacts, than DK Canada’s Gift Boutique, where you’ll find a superb collection of books that will make you an expert in everything from Coffee to Whiskey, and everything in between.

DK Books are a gem of knowledge. Each one aims to educate and enlighten, while enriching our lives with a thirst for curiousity. Here's the preview DK Gift Boutique for 2015. 

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