"Photo Finish" by Jon Canfield and Tim Grey
The Digital Photographer's Guide to Printing, Showing, and Selling Images
Review Date: November 9th 2004
"Photo Finish" is a new book from digital imaging experts Jon Canfield and Tim Grey which explores the different ways of presenting your photographs after you have taken them. Capturing a great image is only half the battle; showing it off to the rest of the world is also an essential part of any photographer's workflow, whether it be to your family members, to clients or for an exhibition. Written from the viewpoint of the digital photographer, "Photo Finish" looks at a wide range of techniques, including printing using an inkjet printer, using traditional print labs and online print services, displaying images on the internet, creating digital slideshows, and finishing and exhibiting prints. During 316 pages, the authors clearly explain why and how you can present your work in the best possible way and make your photographs stand out from the crowd. Find out if "Photo Finish" can make your photographs shine by reading my review.
The recommended retail price of "Photo Finish" in the UK is £19.99 and in the US it is $29.99.
"Photo Finish" is divided into 5 main parts. The first, Printing on the Desktop, looks at printing at home, including choosing a printer, preparing your images, the printing process and specialist printing. The second, Using Print Services, looks at using both a traditional photo lab and online print services to print your images for you. The third, Displaying Images on the Web, focuses on creating a website to show off your work, from planning and building the site through to publishing and maintaining it. The fourth, Producing Digital Slideshows, looks at choosing a digital projector, optimising your images for a slideshow, and creating a software-based slideshow. The fifth and final part, Showing and Selling Your Images, considers how to mount, matt and frame your prints, and then how to exhibit and sell them through galleries and on the internet. Parts two and five are the shortest, at about 30 pages each, with the other three parts each being about 80 pages long. There is also a 20-page colour section with illustrations in the middle of the book that is referenced throughout.
"Photo Finish" will be of most use to the traditional film photographer who has recently switched to digital, but who has little experience with actually printing or showing their images using non-traditional processes. All of the book's content will then be applicable. For photographers who have been working digitally for a while, some sections of "Photo Finish" will be familiar, whilst others may be completely new. I knew very little about digital slideshows, for instance, before reading this book. It is also aimed more at the photographer who is at least thinking about selling their work, either through prints or on the web, although a great deal of the techniques could and should also be used by any photographer who is interested in showing their photographs off to their best advantage.
Depending on your background and experience, "Photo Finish" may be a book that you read cover from cover, or a book that you dip into and read certain sections. As the breakdown of the structure above shows, it is certainly a wide-ranging book, so there will undoubtedly be some areas that you are more interested in than others, or some areas that you are already well-informed about. I run my own portfolio website (http://www.markgoldstein.co.uk) so I knew a lot about what Part three of the book covered. Having said that, there were still some great tips and techniques included in this section that made me think "I should really try that out on my site", so it's definitely still worth reading through the parts that you think you know about anyway.
Within each part of "Photo Finish", the authors guide you from the start to the finish of whatever they are talking about in a very clear and easy-to-follow way. Despite covering such a wide range of topics, you never feel that the book skims over certain things, or that anything is left out. When detailed instructions are called for, detailed instructions are what you get, although this does come with a small caveat, in that only certain products are covered (generally the ones that the authors like and recommend from personal experience). For example, in the Printing on the Desktop section, the choice of printer is quickly narrowed down to an inkjet type, with Epson being used as the example. In the Displaying Images on the Web section, Dreamweaver MX is used as the example webpage editing software package. Despite this necessary focus, the authors do explain what decisions they have made about the tools and why they chose them, and many of the techniques that they describe are applicable to other products.
Partly because of this choice by the authors of certain products, "Photo Finish" feels like a very personal book that is based on years of concrete experience. This is further reinforced by the liberal use of Notes, Tips and Recommendations which invariably read as though one of the author's has just told you, personally, about his latest great idea. "Photo Finish" is very much a book born out of a deep passion for digital photography, rather than a thinly-veiled attempt to cash in on the recent digital photography craze. You have the feeling whilst reading "Photo Finish" that the authors have done an awful lot of research on your behalf and are now convincing you of the best way to do things - a great mix of passion for the subject and, crucially, knowledge and experience about it.
(out of 5 stars)
"Photo Finish" is an extremely well-written and clear guide to 3 major ways of presenting your work; prints, website and slideshow. Each section is as strong as the other, so if you need to find out about at least one of them, then this book is worth buying. And even if you already print your own images or run your own website, "Photo Finish" is well worth reading to see the processes that experienced working photographers recommend and follow. Being so recently published (August 2004), it is also very up-to-date in terms of the products and techniques that it talks about, so you won't be reading about anything that has already been superceded (not for a while anyway!). If you want to get up to speed and learn how to present your photographs in the best possible way from a digital point of view, then "Photo Finish" provides plenty of shortcuts without leaving out any valuable content. A must-buy for all digital photographers.