Book review: Insect Symphony by Paul Parent

Gepubliceerd op 15 november 2023 om 15:56

Over the past week I read the book Insect Symphony: A Comprehensive Guide to Insect Photography, by Paul Parent. Here are my thoughts about the book.


This is a self-published book that is printed on demand by Amazon. The print quality is rather poor, which is a pity for a book with so many nice photographs. I am not sure whether this is always the case with these books that are printed on demand. Amazon has two quality levels for such books: Standard and Premium. I am not sure what was used for this book.

I find this a rather weird book. It raises many issues about equipment, shooting, lighting, insect behavior, environment and ethical issues, and so on. But the answer to many of these issues is: Do your research. So the book does not give you the answers. It is good to know that all these issues are important, but it would have helped if the book gave some more guidance. 

Another thing about the book is that it presents insect photography as something very difficult. You need tons of equipment, you need to prepare very carefully, you need to do a lot of research, and so on. I disagree with that point of view. I think insect photography is easy. You need minimal equipment and a little bit of knowledge and technique, and then I recommend people to just go out there and have fun. 

The book contains many nice insect shots. Most of them are frontal close-ups of the head of insects. However, after a while you start getting the feeling something is wrong. Upon close inspection I discovered the issue. Almost all of these shots are mirrored, that is, one half of the image is a mirrored copy of the other half. So they are perfectly symmetric, even the background. This gives interesting and pleasing images, so there is nothing wrong with it. I think though that the author should have mentioned it. It also goes a bit against the philosophy in the book, which is that you should photograph insects in the most natural way and not do much post processing. These images are clearly not natural.

Should you buy the book? It is not a book that tells you how to photograph insects or answers the questions you might have. But it will make you more aware of the issues at play. It is though expensive at $20 for a 90-page paperback book in rather poor print quality. You can obtain it here at Amazon.

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