Book Review: Instant Baseball

If you take pictures with your iPhone and post them to Instagram, you probably never considered that a book could be published of the pictures from your camera phone. Well, Brad Mangin has done just that. Mangin, a freelance photojournalist who has taken the cover photo for more than one dozen issues of Sports Illustrated, has recently come out with a book featuring nothing but pictures taken with his iPhone. In the book, Instant Baseball: The Baseball Instagrams of Brad Mangin, fans get to look through about 200 pictures that Mangin took with his iPhone during the 2012 baseball season.

If you are looking to waste $20 on something that you could get for free, this is a book you should buy. If you would rather put that money towards something that you either didn’t have to pay for, took more than ten minutes to leaf through or provided content that you couldn’t do yourself, find another book to occupy your time and money.

In the introduction Mangin talks about his fascination with the iPhone camera and how he continues to be surprised at the quality of pictures it takes. He explains how his journey of iPhone picture taking started. Basically, he bought an iPhone 4s and quickly realized that he could take pictures that he deemed to be just as good as those he takes with his big expensive camera with his phone. (Perhaps he could have asked the 13 year old in the seat next to him at the baseball game and could have received that info…five years ago.)

Throughout the season, Mangin took pictures and posted them onto his Instagram account. He spends some time at the end of the book telling readers, or in his case viewers, what different filter apps he liked to use during his photography process. I doubt that Instagram or any of these apps has an endorsement deal with Mangin, so he is giving them a bunch of publicity for helping him make his book. This is all well and good, but since my ten year old niece has been putting pictures on her Mom’s facebook page using these same filters, it doesn’t seem to be too difficult.

During the season, Mangin posted all of the pictures he took, including those that appear in the book, onto his Instagram account. That’s right; you could get to see all of the same pictures you just bought for $20 for free with just the click of a mouse.

The vast majority of these pictures are still shots of different items associated with baseball. For instance, there are still shots of game tickets, bats, balls, baseball fields, stadium food and various pictures of players posing, usually just looking straight forward at the camera. There are a few action shots used in the book, but they are very rare and even fewer happened during a live MLB game.

The book also features a forward by ESPN’s intrepid baseball reporter Pedro Gomez. Gomez describes much of his time covering baseball and, of course, how grateful he is to have been asked to write the forward for the book. Had I written the forward for the book, I no doubt would have been grateful to receive the attention and the check as well. Gomez breaks down his perspective on the 2012 season. Since he is stationed in the Bay Area in California, he was fortunate to have two teams within driving distance (the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants) make it into the playoffs.

Despite Gomez’ forward and a very brief introduction by the photographer himself, the book does not entertain as anything that costs nearly three hours of minimum wage work should. Instead it is better suited for a doctor’s office where patients nervously leaf through uninteresting periodicals while they wait for their appointment.

The 176 page book is published by Cameron and Company and hit the shelves in hardcover on April 30.

Mangin is also the author of another book entitled Worth the Wait which is a story about the 2010 season when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

Overall Rating: 1/5

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