Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking, by Julieanne Kost, ISBN: 0596100833

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, June 2006
Published by: O'Reilly
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US$39.99, UK£28.50, CAD$55.99

Julieanne Kost is a creative artist and Photoshop expert who has spent much of her professional career as an evangelist for Adobe. Her talents are evident to anyone who has been exposed to her work and knowledge through one of the many workshops she presents. The concept behind Window Seat is just what the title suggests—a look into the creative process, an intimate window into the way Kost sees the world, and a creative exploration of subject matter which, even if commonly experienced, is something many of us who travel take very much for granted.

When I received the publication in early May 2006 I really enjoyed reading it and looking at the images that Kost created for this excellent book. The often rich and beautiful images presented in Window Seat were created from photos she took while flying from one city to another. Taking photos from the vantage point of an airplane cabin window is no mean feat because the glass which protects passengers from the world outside also makes it very difficult to get any useful photos. The images Kost has created are substantially and skillfully reworked by her using Photoshop. All the shots are taken using the camera without any sort of flash unit (you're dozens, hundreds or thousands of feet from anything which kind of makes a flash useless, besides which any sort of flash would reflect back from the cabin window and ruin most photos anyway).


The book is organized into three distinct sections and an introduction. The textual content only spans some thirty or so pages with the rest of the pages dedicated to stunning images and screenshots of Photoshop in action.

The first section, The Art of Creative Thinking, details some eighteen key philosophical insights and working practices. This book isn't as instructional as it is insightful, so you will get more out of experiencing it than you will by just reading it. It is more like walking into a gallery of Kost's works with her as the guide providing you with thoughts about the process of creativity rather than about the work itself.

The practical component is demonstrated in literally the last 25 or so pages of this book, but this is more than enough to demonstrate what one can achieve within the scope of the dedicated application of these excellent tools.

My only criticisms are that the book was too short and that the images would have benefited more from being printed using a high fidelity process. Having said this, it’s not a real criticism but more of a desire to see more of these images and have them displayed in a medium which truly does them justice. Experiencing this book reminded me of another one I bought a few years ago called, "Ember Glance: The Permanence of Memory". It featured images of an installation of sculpture, sound and light by David Sylvian & Russell Mills. What is key about both books is their experiential nature.

After finishing Window Seat, I took it down to the pub with me one day and came across a friend. He opened the book out of curiosity and this led to one of the most enjoyable chats I've had in a long time, the most delightful part of which was watching his facial expressions as he discovered each image and felt compelled to offer his interpretation of what he saw. This to me reveals what art is all about and also the very personal and experiential nature of what we encounter in it. Window Seat is as much about the thinking and philosophy of creativity as it is about the practical exploration of artistic processes.

Cons: Very few. It could have been longer and printed using a high fidelity process. The Textual content is somewhat thin.

Pros: Window Seat is well written and features a clean layout and design which adds to the reading experience. Kost's beautiful images are a tapestry which is a pleasure to behold. If you have been looking for a book with which to explore the working of the creative mind, then look no further—Window Seat is it. The book is filled with insights and excellent images which will open your eyes and inspire you to think about the world around you in new and creative ways. What is truly enjoyable is that it opens an intimate window into Julieanne Kost's working processes and the thoughts behind them. Highly recommended.

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