I came across this book review while browsing Ken Rockwell's extremely informative photo site and I though I would share it with you:
“Bruce Barnbaum's The Art of Photography is the best book I've read in over 40 years of reading about photography.
This book is for people with visual imagination. If you're a scientist or engineer looking for some fast 1-dimensional formulae that will let you pop out great photos without having to stop and think long and hard about your subject and your message, you won't understand this book. This isn't a book about rules and exposure. It's a brilliant book that finally explains everything that goes into making a serious photograph — and why rules are "...mindless things that raise you quickly to a level of acceptable mediocrity, then prevent you from progressing further."
Read the rest of the review here
Here is Barnbaum's description of what makes a good photograph. It is interesting that he talks about what the photograph does, rather than what the photograph looks like.
“a meaningful photograph - a successful photograph - does one of several things. It allows, or forces, the viewer to see something that he has looked at many times without really seeing; it shows him something he has never previously encountered; or, it raises questions – perhaps ambiguous or unanswerable - that create mysteries, doubts, or uncertainties. In other words, it expands our vision and our thoughts. It extended horizons. It evokes awe, wonder, amusement, compassion, horror, or any of a thousand responses. It sheds new light on our world, raises questions about our world, or creates it's own world.”