Open Mind, Open Eyes: Insights Into The Creative Processes Of Photographers

Have you ever wondered if you are doing something the “right” way, or if you’re going in the “right” direction? Especially when it comes to one’s photographic practice, or any practice for that matter. This article picks out 5 books from Zontiga’s ‘Open Mind, Open Eyes’ collection that would offer an insight into the creative processes and practices of some of the greatest photographers of all time; including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Joel Meyerowitz, Ansel Adams and many more.


This book is a collection of interviews with forty photographers on their approach to make photographs. Curator and lecturer Sasha Wolf structured it in a Proust-like questionnaire manner, meant to elicit personal and truthful insights. Grounded in the creation of a sustained body of work, these questions are designed to provoke honest, unvarnished responses – the truth about each individual’s unique process of making work – in hopes to provide a real-world guidance in the creative process.

This book serves the function of a mentor in its own way, offering guidance to some, validation to others, and perhaps even a few lightning bolts to photographic artists, whether you’re a beginner or an established photographer.



Aperture is a not-for-profit foundation that aims to connect the photo community and its audiences with the most inspiring work, the sharpest ideas, and with each other—in print, in person, and online. Collected in this anthology are 71 interviews from the past three decades of the magazine, selected Aperture books and published conversations.

From this compilation, the interviews moved in close, favouring those exchanges that offer a behind-the-scenes, intimate glimpse into an artist’s aesthetic, motivation, working process, politics, beliefs and his/her particular dance between photography and life. Many conversations explore the work of a photographer at a pivotal career moment, while others embrace a larger biographical scope, spanning the breadth of the artist’s life and practice. These conversations talk about the images themselves: their creation, their impact, their meaning, their life.



“My passion has never been for photography “in itself”, but for the possibility – through forgetting yourself – of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form; that is, a geometry awakened by what’s offered. The photographic shot is one of my sketchpads.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

This book is filled with nuggets of quotes (just like the one above) handwritten by Cartier-Bresson. It features the collection of Cartier-Bresson’s writings on photography and photographers, several of which have never before been translated. Through his essays, he illustrated the philosophies of his photographic practice in a way that is almost like one's diary entries, in which he included his observations on Moscow, Cuba and China during turbulent times. It could also be read as a letter to us all, ringing with immediacy and visual intensity, as do his photographs.



In this book, Ansel Adams shares the circumstances surrounding the making of 40 of his most celebrated photographs. Each of the 40 photographs are accompanied by an entertaining and informative narrative that combines reminiscence of people and places with precise recall of technical details and aesthetics considerations.

Reading this book is like going on a personal photo walk trip with Adams himself as he unveils everything he did for each photograph, from camera and lens, filters, exposure times, developing and printing as well as all the trials and errors that contributed to the final artwork.




When reading this book, it’s like hearing from Joel Meyerowitz himself personally. This book is broken down into a series of bite-sized chapters, making it easy to dip in and out of the book to cover any of the key topics. He touches on various topics from finding one’s artistic identity, through to editing images, using many of his own images and describing his thought processes as he created the final image.

While generously laying out what has worked for him over the decades, Meyerowitz makes it abundantly clear that this book is by no means a map or prescriptive of any sort, and that every photographic artist must find their own path.


All of the above can be found in the Open Mind, Open Eyes collection here, along with many more books to discover.
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