Aaron Sumner

Ten Photo Assignments: A Book Report

A number of years ago I took a photography class at my local arts center. I quit after a few sessions because it was unorganized and tried to appeal to too many levels. As an alternative I decided that the best study for me would be to read more books on the topic and practice. Ten Photo Assignments by Amanda Quintenz-Fielder looked to be the best of both worlds: Ten advanced exercises in photographic technique and principles, in a book format. One important note to take care of right off the bat: If you don’t have a digital SLR camera, this book probably isn’t for you. If you’re a raw beginner, this book probably isn’t for you either. You’ll need some gear, a little bit of understanding of that gear, and some patience to work through the assignments in the book.


The first six assignments deal with the technical aspects of these cameras, focusing on features your point-and-shoot or camera phone don’t have. You might also need to get ready to spend money on equipment you don’t have, such as a light meter or extra lenses. I believe the Quintenz-Fielder’s intent is to have you master the technical matters first so they don’t impede your artistic eye as your skills develop. I can understand that but admit I had to improvise a bit due to lack of equipment.

The remaining chapters address composition and light, and provide a good introduction to working with both to create great photographs. There are lots of resources online and elsewhere on composition (think: rule of thirds), but the two lessons on light are more unique based on what I’ve seen.

In my opinion there are better books and resources on photography than Ten Photo Assignments, though perhaps not as thorough. If you’ve got the gear and want to learn how to use it better, then working through this book may be a good exercise for you. If your interest in photography aren’t great enough to invest that kind of money or time, look toward other sources.

More information about Ten Photo Assignments is available from O’Reilly.

Note: I wrote this review for O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program. It’s a pretty nice deal: Get a free e-book to read, share a review in your blog, get another free book to read. Sign up for yourself to take advantage of this deal, and watch for more book reports in my blog.

. Questions or comments? Let me know what you think.