In Books, Just For Fun, News & Stuff by David34 Comments

Hi all. Hope you had a lovely holiday, filled with family, friends, and love. Ours was subdued, a close friend was diagnosed to have a brain tumour and that brought the tone of things down. But it re-calibrates you in a hurry, this kind of event; reminds you quickly of the things you truly want for Christmas – health, family, friends. The trimmings aren’t the main event.

Sharon gave me the gift of Wisdom, a book by Andrew Zuckerman. On my birthday I opened that book, along with books from a close friend. In fact he gave me Annie Leibovitz At Work, which I have, so I traded it in for Camera by Todd Gustavson and The Unguarded Moment by Steve McCurry. I also got to spend a couple mornings, while Sharon slept in, walking on the seawall and wrecking roll after roll of otherwise perfectly good film while I second-guessed my light metre and tried to get things level in the goofy inverted focussing screen on the old Hasselblad. It was, in a word, heaven. Wisdom, by the way, is a fantastic book, especially if you love portraits. Camera is just amazing if you are interested in the history of our craft, and The Unguarded Moment, it’s pure McCurry, and like his last two, it’s HUGE. The cover image is one of my favourites. I’m willing to bet it was a case of finding a great background and just waiting it out until the moment arrived. Very Henri Cartier-Bresson-esque 🙂

My muse visited and gave me an idea for what one day will be another book, and I wish I weren’t already working on one because this one just strikes me as way more fun 🙂 No spoilers just yet, and who knows if/when it might actually come out. But ideas are like gold and getting one that just fits, that’s priceless.

So now we’re in that weird space and time between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m settling in to keep writing, to pack bags for Kenya and Senegal, to make a list of resolutions I plan on breaking early so I can get straight to the guilt part (kidding), and wrapping up the loose ends of 2009. How about you? How was your holiday? Did you get a gift that inspired you? A moment that you managed to capture, with your heart or your camera? Trust it was a good break for you.


  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s situation. My family had some bad cancer news just before Christmas, but it’s been diagnosed as very treatable, so I empathize with the tone being more down this year. Really did reshape what I was focusing on and then what I was more thankful for.

    I did get some good Christmas gifts of the photographic inspiration kind: Vanity Fair Portraits, The Definitive Robert Capa by Phaidon, Magnum Magnum by Brigitte Lardinois, and The Great American Pinup. An Epson P3000!! an amazing cookbook with some fantastic food photography and a stock pot I’d been wanting.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Welcome back David. Hope your break provided a little rest. Our Christmas was low key, the way we wanted it. We were going to stay home, but at the last minute we decided to visit my wife’s family about 300km from here. She has seven sisters and all but one were able to get together. It’s great when everyone and all the kids get together.

    For Christmas I got a nice surprise gift, two tickets to the MotoGP race next July in Indianapolis. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get as I have been on a “self-gifting” book buying spree the past few weeks. I have purchased about 9 titles including Within the Frame, Vision Mongers, The War of Art, Accidental Millionaire by Gary Fong, The Non-Designers Design Book, Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig, The Hot Shoe Diaries, Michael Freeman’s Perfect Exposure and Dave Black’s The Way I See It. Whew! Yes, I went a little crazy. I just need to find time to read them all now…

    Anyway, welcome back and keep up the great work!


  3. Dear David,

    Wishing you an excellent 2010 === as you say: health first of all, then all the trimmings of some interesting (fun) project which also bring along enough financing to make life just easy enough so that we can smile without forgetting about reality.

    Please let me know when you will be in Senegal, as we have a place there, friends etc. and would love to meet or if I can help with any info, please drop a line.

    warm regards,


  4. David,

    I hope your friend beats the tumor and recovers.
    On a happier note, Christmas was nice and simple. A wonderful dinner and good wine with the parents and grandma.

  5. The best gift I got was to discover unremembered rolls of Kodachrome 64 in my freezer. I have until the end of 2010 to get it processed so I’m going to wait for those unbelievably precious times when the light is wonderful, the colors spectacular, the mood is just right, and I am jonesing to dust off my M6 to shoot those puppies.

  6. Hi David,
    just want to send you some good wishes for your friend. We had the same one year ago, when my wife got the same diagnose. Finally everything went well, she was operated in January and it was removed totally, and she is fine now. This also changed our life very much, and we now exactly know what is important in life.
    Hope also the very best for your friend, we keep our fingers crossed.

  7. All the best for 2010 to all of you out there and may 2010 fulfill some of your wishes!

    @ David, i hope your friend will be ok. Same happened to a friend of mine and this life changing event (not only for your friend, but for everyone around) will require lots of understanding and patience.

    Xmas here was spent with family and did not involve any 24th late night (or 25th very early AM?) presents building, since our youngest son found out about the lack of Santa early this year!
    One of my gifts to my son Luca (12yo) and to myself was the sponsoring of a child in need.
    Besides the reward one gets from doing something right, I was very touched by my son’s reaction when he told me how happy he was to be able to improve someone’s life.

    Last but not least, i am now busy using this time off to plan my future website and hope to have it up and running by the end of january.

  8. Welcome back from Christmas David and very best to you and your family in 2010. Thank you for sharing the news about your friend, may life bless them to the fullest extent each and everyday. You are so right in how it recalibrate us to what is truly important in our lives. My wish is that everyday to be that way and not just the Holidays.

    Hey, I was lucky enough to be able to buy myself a present and I bought Visionmongers! I’m having a hard time putting it down, I relate to so much of it.

    Take care…

  9. Best wishes for the New Year and sorry to hear about your friend. As a physician at VGH I’m grounded all to often and it is my photography that brings me balance and joy. And it is books like your Visionmongers ( which I received for Christmas, have already read cover to cover, and intend to buy for my vocationally inclined photography friends ) that confirm and inspire me as an enthusiast if not vocational photographer. Thank you for another great book and for being a focal point for the growing photography community.

  10. Mel got me The LIfe & Love of Trees (she apparently saw it on Ellen). The images in it are a collaborative – not to detract from the work mind you – and stunningly laid out. Like any good book, the images alone convey the subjects importance and place in the world… I haven’t read a single page of text but plan to (maybe bed-time reading for my son).

    Best of luck to your friend; I’ve been working in a Cancer related not for profit for two years now and there are an equal number of inspiring survivor stories to those of loved ones lost. There is so much being done to treat these and BC (if your friend is in BC) is blessed with a very strong fundraising organization that focuses on care and treatment right there in your community. There’s no “Ontario Cancer Foundation” so that is a plus when it comes to access.

    Another great gift was the stripping of my tripod mount… which actually kind of sucks because it means my SLR is in “tha shop” but it also forces me to focus on what i have… and that is the wonderful G11. I plan on not just taking it around to make casual images, but using the opportunity to set up my lights and do some “studio” work with the P&S.

  11. I”m so sorry about your friend. My dad was thrown from a horse (and it landed on him) in a freak accident on Saturday. He has whiplash, a black eye, cuts, bruises, and soreness, but sounds like he’ll be okay; things like that put life in perspective.

    Can’t wait to hear more details about the future book in the works. 🙂

  12. My Christmas involved barbecued squid from an Asian night market, but then again, when you live in a country where Christmas is a work day, you take what you get.

    Seriously, I mostly took the day off, but my wife had to work (she’s a teacher).

    We’ve got a week long Chinese New Year break coming up which will be our celebration of family and friends.

  13. I’ll add my wishes for a full recovery for your friend. Your friendship and support for him/her will go along way in helping.

    I, too, received books for Christmas: Lighting Science & Magic and Bryan Petersen’s Beyond Portraiture. Hopefully both will make me a little smarter for IWTF.

    Best of luck in Kenya and Senegal, too.

  14. David, I wish your friend a complete and speedy recovery, it must be a dreadful time for all concerned.

    My two main gifts came early..Within The Frame and Visionmongers, which I’m halfway through and digesting slowly.

    I can’t wait for the holiday season to end as I’m all fired up and looking forward, slightly nervously, to an exciting year ahead.

    If you had more hair and a white beard, I would have left you a mince pie and glass of Sherry on the fireplace mantel on Christmas morning…best presents I’ve had in many a year.

  15. a good visit from your muse is the best kind of gift to get at any time of the year. I hope it does come to fruition!

    I got a copy of Within the Frame, and I love it, I’ve read it twice over already. 2010 feels like its going to be a good year for me.

    good luck in Kenya and Senegal!

  16. My best Christmas present was having my dad home from the hospital – no present can replace the health and happiness of those you love. But, second to that, as a hobbyist photographer with a tiny tiny budget, I was thrilled to receive my first Canon Speedlight flash. I’ve never owned one before and can’t wait to figure it out!

    Also, I gave Within the Frame as a gift to two separate people and they were both thrilled!

    And to Larry Larsen.. i am JEALOUS! Fred Herzog is my hero – he made me fall in love with my hometown all over again. I have a book of his works but not his catalogue and it’s definitely not signed – what a treasure!

  17. The November and December Holidays have often been frustrating for me, because personal history indicates that, if a loved one is going to die, become ill, or face some other calamity; it’ll be during the holiday season. So, I really sympathize with you regarding the un-Christmas-like diagnosis of your friend. That’s never an easy thing to take in. But, you’re absolutely right in remarking on how such bad news arriving at an otherwise happy time can really make you appreciate the important things in life even more.
    I spent Christmas day in bed with a high fever. (See! Bad Holidays, bad!) But, after I recovered. I got to enjoy perusing a fantastic cookbook that my dear wife gave me. It’s an entirely different way of cooking for me (vegan). And, I always find inspiration in doing something new like this.
    Also, I happen to have two Amazon gift cards at my disposal, which means I can finally press the “submit order” button on your latest book! And, I’ll save the rest for the next book!

  18. David, I was very pleased to have received a signed copy of the catalog of Fred Herzog’s photographs of Vancouver, B.C. Your backyard. Fred’s work is amazing. The catalog was published by Equinox Gallery in Vancouver.

  19. What a wonderfully written post. I was there with you on the seawall, if only through imagery.

    Health and happiness in the new year…

  20. I am another happy Christmas recipient of your book, Visionmongers… just about 20 pages or so into it, very hard to put down. The very best to you and your family, and in your photographic journey in the new year!

  21. You are right…when things happen to friends, it really shows us what can be thankful for – good health.

    Oh, yes, my beloved gave me a book that is truly inspiring and shows me how far away I am actually from becoming a good photographer. But on the other hand it spurs me on 🙂

    Looking forward what you come up with you a new book…Blessings to you and yours in 2010.

  22. I gave myself an early Christmas gift – Visionmongers – and my wife gave me The War of Art and the Best Business Practices book by John Harrington. These three should provide me a good start to the planning phase of my “jumping in”.

    Thanks for the amazing advice and insights throughout the year. I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge that will come from this blog in the coming year.

    Thanks again!

  23. Great holiday, quiet time with the kids around the tree and a toasty fire in the wood stove. I did a great new book, Vision Mongers! Read it cover to cover on Sat. and can’t wait to read it again so I can pick up all the stuff I missed. It’s a great book, so well done David. Anyone that doesn’t have it should get it immediately!

    Thanks for your work and wisdom in this regard, I can’t wait to get started on all I have to do after reading this, not the least of which is my CDB:)

  24. Hi David, & a belated Merry Christmas to you!

    It was a bit of a mixed Christmas for me filled with lots to do and little time to do it in but, what I originally thought would be my biggest disappointment actually turned out to be the best thing about it. In short, I lost my internet connection for over a week (couldn’t get an engineer until this AM) so all the stuff i’d been planning on doing got shelved and left me twiddling my thumbs a bit.

    Long story short & as I say, it turned out for the best because with nothing else to do, I had to make the best of some days out with the camera I usually wouldn’t have gone for and I managed to snag a couple of shots i’m really happy with.

    If nothing else it’s reminded me that sometimes what we think is life bowling us a bit of a googly, is actually life giving us the kick we need and we should be grateful for it!

    Happy holidays to you and yours & may the coming year fill you with the joy you’ve given us all in this one


  25. It’s funny you, and others, mention books – My sister got me “Within The Frame” and I can’t wait to start reading it…oh, and I got a new D90 🙂 But, most importantly I got to see the joy as my girls opened up some gifts from Santa on Christmas morning.

    My wife and I also took our oldest to see her first movie (The Princess and the Frog) in the theater. Also, I spent a little time with my father and eat some of his homemade fudge.

  26. I got the only book you’ve written that I didn’t have (I think), “Within the Frame” and a Rick Sammon Westcott kit. My kids made me a portable backdrop frame complete with 3 different backdrop materials. I love them so much. I’m going to be Grandma in the summer and life is never dull.

    I’ll keep your friend in my thoughts. Two days before Christmas the young daughter of my friend underwent 2 surgical procedures for a brain tumor. She’s home now and they are awaiting the results and for what will happen next. It’s a frightening time but friends and family can help keep you smiling even when you’re fighting such a serious disease.

    Enjoy your trip and looking forward to your photos! 🙂

  27. David, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with your friend, their family and you as you go through this trying time. It’s my prayer that your friend is able to beat the tumor. In December 2003 my family lost my sister-in-law to a brain tumor so I know how you all must be feeling.

    I was pleased to open my birthday present from my wife and see Within the Frame and The Photographers Eye. Christmas was nice and over the break I got to visit with a friend who was in town from California. I haven’t seen him or talked to him in about 15 years, this was the highlight of my Christmas, next to receiving Within the Frame, of course.

  28. My wife got me “The Accidental Masterpiece On the Art of Life and Vice Versa” by Michael Kimmelman and to be honest it is freaking me out. I love art. Any art. But when you peel back the surface and look deeper, it is an emotionally ponderous place that threatens to crush you.

  29. Nice post.

    I too, got a book for Christmas. “Vision something” by some guy named Dave…he seems to be on to something – I’ll report back once I’m finished with it. 🙂

    I “re-learned” (remembered maybe, I don’t know) something for your post. While looking at that picture from McCurry, I had the same thought about waiting for the moment while in a great background….that could be another assignment to add to the others in the “Top Ten” pdf.

    Happy New Years everyone.

    – Rob

  30. My brother and I spent Christmas with our mom in the north of Norway – a beautiful place. The high light was shooting northern lights on the evening of Christmas Day. So magical to see the light dance across the sky!

    Thanks for all the time you spend on this blog! Make a great 2010!

  31. David, seems that you’ve had a tough year with the health of your loved ones. Let’s hope 2010 is much better for you in that regard.

    I wrote my Steam Fitter exam on Dec.23rd. That test was lingering over my head distracting me from a Christmas spirit. It was a big relief getting that out of the way. Just hope I pass now 😉

    My season has had some sad news too. Last August we lost our dog to cancer. Now my cat is going down the same path. We don’t expect “Little Wigs” to be with us in a few weeks. We will be “pet-less” for the first time in 14 years.

    On a brighter side, I had a wonderful subdued Christmas with family and friends. A bonus was my mother NOT spending all of her hard earned money on stuff I don’t want or need. I guess I finally got through to her that I buy my own under wear now. My wife and I also kept gifts to a minimum(in order to stay debt free). She got me a 3 year subscription to PhotoLife, my favourite mag.

  32. Author

    Thanks Andrea and James, for the kind wishes for my friend. I’m grateful.

    James, I got the Image Collection from my mother this holiday. Going to be time for a new bookshelf soon. Oddly, it took me a long time to go from enjoying making photographs to looking at the work of others. Not sure why, but does it ever inspire me now! 🙂

  33. Here’s a New Year’s wish that your friend fully recover. Like you, we had a quite holiday, just my wife and I. My Christmas book was National Geographic’s IMAGE COLLECTION, an amazing group of images selected from the millions they have in their archives. What a task that must have been to edit them down to one large book of images but very fun to look at on cold winter evenings.

  34. First my heart goes out to you with the news from your friend. It sounds like you have enjoyed your break. Look forward to hearing what new book idea you have cooked up. When I read Within the Frame I had a very big light bulb moment and now look at my new hobby of photography very differently.

    My family spoiled me and got me the compact flash I have dreaming about for my Sony SLR. Nothing fancy but will be a huge assistance with my low light and portrait photography I have been doing lately.

    Have a great New Year!

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