Review: ICELAND, A Monograph, David duChemin


The location of David’s duChemin’s latest pdf – Iceland – is one of my favorite places I’ve had the fortune of visiting (tops being Antarctica – which I can’t imagine anything beating – just for the solitude and otherworldly beauty).  I’m a fan of David’s work and have followed him for some time.  That being said – I’ll call a spade a spade regardless :)

This is the first Craft & Vision pdf from the Print & Process series that I’ve read – though I’ll be checking out the others in the near future.

First reactions to the images – before getting to the text:

David duChemin has pulled together a compelling set of images that captures the beauty of the country and richness of color – paired with the bleak and desolate feel that comes in with the fog.  Feels like David spent a fair amount of time on the trip playing with a tilt-shift lens.  For me – I think the impact was somewhat minimised by using it on a number of consecutive images.  Had it been on fewer, I would’ve found it more impactful and interesting – matter of personal choice more than anything, as the images on their own are solid.

Note: my comment refers only to the images as presented as an initial set before the text of the document.  It becomes clear from the pdf what he was doing and why – and I’m glad he included them.  I’ll often look solely at the images of many books first, and then revisit them with the text after the fact.  This allows me to digest them in stages, and provides a chance to reflect before they are impacted - positively or negatively – by the text.

Reactions after reading the text:

The one thing I appreciate most about David’s work is how he takes you inside his head to see how he thinks about creativity and vision.  [Side note: I'm currently reading 'Vision & Voice' by David - which does a great job of this as well.]

Thanks to links from JP Caponigro,  I’ve recently watched numerous TED videos. Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) TED talk really resonated with me and ties closely with a point David makes about his creative concerns.  The lingering doubt that we have run out of creativity is evidently something that nags us all!

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book (note to David – I’d certainly buy a book full of these examples!) is the 7-shot example he shares of going from the first frame of an intriguing subject, through various framing options, to his final image in Lightroom.  While every photographer’s eye is different, and we would have all framed the final shot somewhat differently – I find it incredibly useful to a) get a glimpse of how others think and b) be reminded that this process is hard for nearly everyone :) .

Earlier this spring, there was a great Irving Penn example at the National Portrait Gallery in London (where I lived for the last 3 years) of a proof sheet of 30-odd images next to the final print.  Seeing all the shots – amazing, bad and otherwise – always helps remind me that everyone is human.  And maybe someday, I can at least match a few of the decent images he didn’t select.

In addition to the above example, David talks about the gear he used, the planning (or lack thereof) for the trip, and provides brief insight into each of the selected images.  In 65 pages, he strikes a solid balance between images, gear, process and vision.


Iceland, A Monograph, by David duChemin – is well worth the price of admission  (a whopping $4 dollars with discount!).  The images alone will draw out emotion and help rustle your creative feathers, but I found the insight into how he sees and thinks to be even more valuable.  Skip the latte and pick up a copy  - fewer calories, and better for you!  You can purchase it here, using the code ICE4 to get the $1 discount.


See a selection of my images from Iceland earlier this year, here.

Copyright 2010 Steve Black

For more TED videos – this top 10 is a great place to start.

One Response to “Review: ICELAND, A Monograph, David duChemin”

  1. [...] To see my review of David duChemin’s Iceland – A Monograph, click here [...]

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