Earning a Living with Dynamic Photography

Non-Fiction - Art/Photography
92 Pages
Reviewed on 02/26/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Raymond J. Klein's Illuminations describes his photographic journey in Milwaukee during World War II, sparked by his father's Kodak camera. Recognition came through the Milwaukee Journal, leading to a spot in Pictures From Readers and a $5 check. High school saw Klein as a camera club member and school photographer, followed by work at Eastman Kodak. Military service during the Korean War in a photo unit marked a pivotal period with a transition to post-military work documenting missile launches, contributing to the space race, and his entering the advertising sector in 1963. Klein's career surged in the early 1970s with successful campaigns and awards for lighting techniques. Now retired, Klein looks back with readers at his achievements, exhibitions, and personal life, providing others with a comprehensive glimpse into the technical and creative aspects of a dedicated photography career.

Part self-help and part memoir, Illuminations by Raymond J. Klein looks at the history of photography and how important the craft remains today. I enjoyed following Klein's growth and professional development, from its infancy to significant achievements, and his ability to use these to provide encouragement and valuable insights into overcoming hardship and ultimately finding success in a competitive industry. What stands out to me, and what often feels like a lost art as human connections are relegated to digital communication, are his lessons in networking and building relationships with clients and collaborators in the creative industry. He does this by recounting interactions with art directors and musicians, which allowed him to share experimental work with a music company's art director, earning him an album cover commission. The book is well-written and easy to follow, and I think it will find success among both aspiring and established photographers. Recommended.

Luwi Nyakansaila

In the past, photographers who worked with National Geographic and other magazines were highly respected due to the amount of preparation, creativity, and expertise required in taking photographs. Photography is an art that demands not only passion but also talent. When Raymond J Klein was twelve years old, he discovered his love for photography after finding his father's folding Kodak camera. Unfortunately, it had fewer features than modern ones and required greater technical knowledge to operate. Raymond taught himself how to use it, took family photographs, and even published photos in the local Sunday journal. This marked the start of a remarkable career that involved experimenting with different techniques, capturing stunning images, and winning numerous accolades. The story of Raymond's photographic journey is chronicled in Illuminations, a book showcasing his most memorable photographs and how they contributed to his growth as a photographer.

Illuminations is a captivating memoir and an enlightening appreciation of the progress photography has made. Personally, it was a must-read for me as I had recently read Raymond J. Klein's other book, Visions of Light, which introduced me to the incredible art of photography. In Illuminations, Raymond provides a detailed account of how he created his career-changing photos, showcasing his thought process and the effort he put in to capture such impactful images, giving readers a view of what was happening behind the camera lens. The narration is authentic and inspiring, demonstrating how magical moments can occur in a split second. Raymond's dedication and passion for photography are evident throughout the book, and his words and photos are a testament to his love for the art. The photos are the highlight, displaying the depth of emotion and creativity that the author brings to his work. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves photography.

Astrid Iustulin

It is always great when an expert in any field writes a book to encourage people to follow their same path. This is the case of Raymond J. Klein, who, in his book Illuminations: Earning a Living with Dynamic Photography, recounts his experience as a photographer. He starts right from the beginning, recalling how, while still a boy, the photograph of his cat was chosen to be published in a newspaper. Klein's story continues with his military service when he became a member of the photography unit and his career. The author reveals difficulties, secrets, and techniques and shows readers how he created his projects — with the hope that they will do the same.

I enjoy taking pictures, and even though I am not a photographer, I am always curious to learn more about this craft. Illuminations has considerably broadened my horizons, and this is why I find the book valuable. Raymond J. Klein was right to focus on his projects and how they were created because, in my opinion, this is the most interesting aspect for an aspiring photographer. I enjoyed following the author's career from the beginning to the exhibitions of recent years. Of all the chapters, the one that thrilled me the most was the one dedicated to the photography of giraffes, especially how that beautiful image was taken. I think this book has a lot to teach readers and I highly recommend it to all aspiring photographers who need inspiration and encouragement; they will find plenty here.

Pikasho Deka

Raymond J. Klein is a veteran photographer with a distinguished career in the field. In Illuminations, Raymond shares his love of this art form and his lifelong journey as a professional photographer. At the age of 12, Raymond developed an interest in photography after seeing a magazine titled 'Popular Photography.' His passion for photography grew further when the Milwaukee Journal published one of his photographs. Over the next few decades, Raymond would go on to work for the RCA, Maritan Aircraft Company, and art and photography studios. During these years, he mastered both B&W and color photography and explored different lighting techniques to express his vivid imagination through this medium. In 2005, he finally got published in the Popular Photography magazine and would win additional international prizes for his work.

Illuminations is an inspiring memoir that showcases the value of having the courage to follow one's dreams. Raymond J. Klein's dedication to his craft and passion for the medium of photography shines through the pages and motivates you to nurture a similar drive and will to pursue your dreams. Raymond also delves into the techniques he has learned and developed throughout his career to improve and enhance his images -- both in film and digital photography. If you love photography or are a professional photographer, this book is a must-read. Lori Loranger is one of the contributors to this memoir, and she does an excellent job of bringing Raymond's life story to the pages. One of my favorite photos in this book was "The Newsboy." And I thoroughly enjoyed Lori and Zoe Loranger's poem on it. Highly recommended.

Jon Michael Miller

Illuminations: Earning a Living with Dynamic Photography by Raymond J. Klein is an autobiography in which he traces his lifetime journey in commercial and artistic picture-making. He starts his book by quoting the famous lines of Jefferson relating to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” all three of which exemplify his personal evolution through a technically ever-changing craft. He also explains his desire to inspire others in his field to refine their abilities using the same techniques of creativity and ambition as he demonstrates in his own fascinating story. Mr. Klein’s wonderful book contains 29 short and highly readable chapters in which he discusses a particular step forward as demonstrated by a photograph he created. For anyone interested in the profession, these discussions of technique and innovation are not only inspiring but instructional, starting with early black-and-white cameras, moving through advancement after advancement, and ending with the amazing capability of current image technology.

But Mr. Klein’s story far transcends the art and technology of photography and relates to any of the arts and, really, to any ambition. It is a story of phases of success itself. For Mr. Klein, it all started toward the end of WW2 in Milwaukee when he was 13, delivering newspapers in his neighborhood, and fascinated by the section “Pictures from Readers.” Using his dad’s camera, he took an innovative shot of the family cat eyeing a canary from above the cage. What I enjoy most about the book is that he traces photographic art by first describing what went into each creation and then showing the actual result. He also filters in his personal life from his childhood, military service, and professional development to the present day. I was amazed to see what goes on behind a successful commercial and artful photograph, and his journey has inspired me in my ambitions as a literary writer. Raymond J. Klein’s Illuminations is indeed a great story, and the photographs are simply—WOW!