See the most recent version of this book (Version III): “100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography.”
Learn from the masters of street photography, with 82 practical lessons and assignments that will push you outside of your comfort zone, and take your work to the next level.
This book is a compilation of all of the lessons I’ve learned from the masters of street photography. The book is composed up of 82 individual lessons; which include an inspirational quote and practical assignments to take your street photography to the next level.
What’s new with this edition?
What is the difference between this version and the original PDF version?
Well for this new version and edition, because it is an ePub file, the text can automatically expand depending on the size of your screen. Furthermore, I spent a lot more time editing the text, so it is a much more polished final product.
I formatted it using the iBooks Author tool in Apple, which means you can read the book (all nicely formatted) on your Apple computer, on your iPad, on your iPhone, on your Android phone (use the “Aldiko” app), or any other e-reader you have (that can read an .epub format). If you have a PC, download “Cool Reader” or “Calibre.”
If you were wondering, I also re-titled the book into “82 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography” because the Google searches would show up the “Learn From the Masters” directory (all my in-depth articles), instead of the book. Furthermore, I consider it a newer “version” of the book; and I wanted to breathe some new life into it.
Why 82 lessons? It were the most salient lessons I have been able to distill from the masters (which has helped me personally in my photography). None of these lessons are “laws” — rather; they are guidelines that can help inspire us and guide us in the right direction in our photography.
How it was like putting together the book
To give you a better sense of how this book came to fruition (and why I decided to put it together), let me be transparent with you (in terms of the process).
To start off, I never had a formal photography background. I have been criticized much for not going to photography school, not knowing about the “masters” of photography, and for putting out blog posts as an “authority” figure (or “expert”) without any formal education.
Having taken this feedback; I wanted to learn more about the masters of street photography. But I had no idea where to start. So I started to research myself from scratch.
I started by reading interviews by the master photographers, and trying to distill their information into practical tips or lessons. I have always been horrible at school, and especially with theory. Whenever I read a lot of these really boring heavy-theory books on photographers, I would fall asleep. They felt pointless. So instead of complaining, I wanted to make the book I wanted to read (if I were a photography student).
Therefore I would compile these “top lessons” from each photographer, and started to write individual articles on these master photographers. I only wrote about photographers who I was personally interested in, and photographers who have personally inspired me.
I know there are a lot of master photographers I haven’t written about; part of it is because I don’t find their photography or philosophy personally interesting. Part of it is I haven’t had the chance to, or I don’t know about their work enough, or am not curious about their work.
The start of the book
After writing about 49 of these “Learn From the Masters” articles, I wanted to create some sort of “master document” that summarized all of the lessons that I learned. I know that after I die, my blog won’t exist, and the only thing that will exist will be a book. But before I can make a physical book, I wanted to make an e-book (the future “paper-back” book is in the works).
This summer when I was in Marseille in the south of France, I spent nearly two weeks re-reading all the articles I wrote, and starting to distill all of those articles into a master list of lessons from the masters of photography. Funny enough, I didn’t have a laptop at the time (had my Macbook air stolen in Paris), so I did it all on my smartphone (Galaxy S6) using Evernote to sync the notes and quotes.
At the time I was also talking with a super cool editor. He helped me work through some ideas for the “Learn From the Masters Book”, but unfortunately I had to pass on the book-publishing deal with them, because the company wasn’t comfortable releasing the full PDF version online for free (one of my non-negotiables). Of course it made sense for them as a company, so I don’t blame them for anything.
I always preach about “Open Source” knowledge/information; which has sometime shot me in the foot (I am not comfortable selling my information; I want it to be open and free to the masses). The problem is that I am dependent on teaching workshops to earn 95% of my income.
The workshops are doing well (I am very grateful), but when I have a family and kids, I don’t want to constantly be traveling. Therefore I am trying to find ways how I can earn a living purely off of writing (not sure if the “donations” model or “pay what you want” model will work; but every dollar you contribute helps me, so thank you so much).
Editing down the lessons
I finally edited down the book into the salient “lessons”, and I started to add practical “assignments” to the book. After all, information is useless unless it is acted upon.
It was hard to come up with these practical assignments. Not only that, but I tried hard to draw upon my perosnal experiences, and how I learned from the masters, and applied their theories to my work.
What was also difficult was adding my own images to the book (I can’t just use the master photographs because of copyright reasons). However I had a great time looking at the archives of my old images; and to see how much I’ve learned the last 10 years of photography.
I put together the original version of the “Learn From the Masters” PDF Book with the Apple “Pages” app on the iPad (still didn’t have a laptop), and had a ton of fun with it. It seriously almost killed me though (I was going through 5-6 espressos a day to format it, to make it look pretty, to add images, and to edit the text).
I presented the book as a “pay what you want” model, and thank you so much for all your kind donations, contributions– it really made me believe that indeed one day, I could make a living purely off writing (while also keeping the information open and free to everybody).
I then realized that the PDF version, while convenient (you can print the whole book off your home printer); it was a bit annoying to read if you didn’t have it printed out, especially when you wanted to look through a computer.
The start of the ePub edition
I got useful feedback, and some people asked for a Kindle/iPad version of the book. Personally, I read a lot of books on my kindle and smartphone, and I love the ePub format. It allows you to make the text bigger, smaller, and helps you save the progress. PDF (while accessible across all devices) isn’t as “smart” as the ePub format.
I then got to work making the ePub format of the book. I searched options (Adobe In-design was too complicated) so I tried the Apple “iBooks Author” tool. I started to design it in the ePub template; and I was blown away how beautifully it rendered the text and formatting.
I then once again went through the entire “Learn From the Masters” PDF version and started to edit down the book (again). I started to prune down the text, and polish it around the edges. I fixed typos, unnecessary words, and grammatical errors. I also added new images, shifted around some lessons and assignments, and just made it a more polished product.
I know when I was working on the book, I was releasing a lot of new versions online. I did this to elicit feedback; and also, I have a fear of dying in my sleep. So I wanted to release these rough drafts (just in-case I died in my sleep, or got hit by a bus, and would regret never having published it).
Anyways; Cindy gave me good feedback (that I shouldn’t confuse my audience by constantly releasing rough drafts), and that I just needed to take my time, sit down, make a final product, and then release it. Thank you Cindy for all your feedback, I love you to death.
I actually finished editing the book a few days ago, but I let it sit and “marinate” to give myself some distance from the book. I looked at the book again, and I feel it is finally “finished.
It was hard for me to know when to stop editing the book, because honestly– no matter how much you edit anything (a book, photography project, your life), it will never be “perfect.” But I think the book is 95% “perfect” to me– and any further edits will just be superfluous.
In terms of the flow of the book, I intended the lessons in the beginning of the book to be more general (and for beginners), and as time goes on towards the end of the book, it becomes more advanced. However the point of the “lessons” is that it is easy to jump around. So don’t feel like you need to read it in a linear-format.
I also recommend you to just keep the book in your smartphone, and whenever you’re feeling uninspired; just read a chapter or two, and try out some of the assignments.
This book belongs to you and the community
To contribute to the community, if you follow an assignment, share it on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, whatever using the #learnfromthemasters hashtag. This way you can connect with other fellow #streettogs who are reading the book.
Now that the book is out there; it no longer belongs to me, it belongs to you and the community. So please, make something of it. Don’t just let it die on your hard drive or your iPad or smartphone. Use it. Abuse it. Apply the lessons to your personal photography, experiment, and have fun. I want the book to empower you and the street photography community at large.
Thank you so much for all the people who have read throuh versions of the book, to people who have donated, to you for continuiing to support this blog through all the years, for defending me against all these internet trolls who have tried to tear me down through the years, for all the likes, comments, and emails of encouragement. Thanks to all the people who have attended my workshops (and helped me pay my rent), thank you for all the hugs, high-fives, fist-bumps, and love and support. I could have never done any of this without you.
iBooks Author File
For those of you who want access to the original iBooks author (.iba) file, download the 1GB file here:
What is my next step?
So what is the next step for me? Like Dr. Dre, I’m back to work:
Gonna go to work
We gotta work
We gotta work
Let’s get back to work
On the grind, back to work
[Outro: Dr. Dre]
Rich as fuck, but, guess what, I’m back to work
Overseas, back home, no time to sleep, I’m back to work
So many people that I love, they want my time but I got to work
Some of my friends don’t understand, shit, I got to work
Always talkin’ ’bout bustin’ the club but I’m like, “Fuck that I gotta work”
If you really wanna do it like this, shit you better get back to work
Back to work
Right back to work
Gotta get back to work
Shit, right back to work
I’m going to re-work the PDF version of the book now (also using the iBooks author tool), and also going to work on a paper-back version of the book, that you can carry around in your messenger bag or backpack.
Please share the book to friends, family, or anyone else you think it will empower. Also because the book is “open-source”; feel free to edit, remix, translate, or distribute it however you would like. Let us keep this book “alive.”
@ Paris Baguette, Downtown Berkeley, 12:34PM, Friday, Nov 6, 2015