Douglas Holleley has written a book that every photo-educator should read: Your Assignment: Photography, described as an interactive resource for students and teachers of photography. To my knowledge, it is the only book that speaks intelligently about the role and meaning of photo-assignments, some of which are routine across the field, and it does so in lucid, plain English. Holleley reminds us of the simple but profound truth about photography: that it (potentially) shows the world through one's own eyes, which is both extremely simple and extremely difficult. The organization of the text in the book is significant, beginning with exploring the medium, followed by the "Eye" (light and color, time and space), then the "I" (the self and the world), and concludes in chapter four with the "Mind" (history and research, evidence, words and images). This is an invaluable book for students today. Now, more than ever, everyone is deeply involved in photographic practices of all sorts, as well as unimaginable modes for image production, transmission, manipulation, exhibition, and so on. I am sure that many experienced photographers could also profit from the book's numerous insights.
Another original aspect of the text is that it is a "live book" printed "on demand."
It is the author's intention "to alter, modify, and expand" the text as new material is suggested by readers, and Holleley is especially interested in adding bibliographic materials of note. He dedicates the book to his students, from whom he has learned a great deal. Now we are all invited to add our insights, assignments, and favorite texts to the book. I find this kind of ongoing collaborative photo-educational project very exciting, even a whole new thing.
Alex Sweetman teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he has helped assemble one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of 19th and 20th century photography books in the world. In 1985 he mounted the first comprehensive exhibition of photography books, "Photographic Book to Photobookwork," nearly 400 books and 100 photographs at the California Museum of Photography.