Freeman's journey through the the principles of photographic composition is eye-opening, eloquent, and beautifully published.
This is not a book on the basics of taking "better photos," so those who seek information on exposure, cameras, lenses will not find it here. Nor is such shooting information for any photographs included. In a general book on photography, this would be a major defect, but here such information would only distract from the book's primary subject: the composition of a visual image.
On the surface, photographic composition may seem to be a very subjective and idiosyncratic topic: you may like one thing, I may like something else. And if it's all subjective, merely a matter of personal preferences, tastes, and opinions, why bother writing a book about it? Most books on photography thread gently on this shaky, insecure ground, and their authors usually limit themselves to a few simple, predictable pointers: the rule of thirds, and golden section, with a particular emphasis on golden rectangle.
But Freeman quite clearly believes that, although ultimately each photographer makes their own choice about what composition works best for their photograph, good choices are those that are deliberate (not accidental), and informed by being aware of ALL the possibilities that are available. The Photographer's Eye will give any intermediate or advanced photographer a better awareness and grasp of choices that are to be made.
Freeman starts at the edge of the image (chapters about the frame) and moves inwards. Available formats, for example (4:3, 3:2, square, horizontal vs. vertical, etc.) are all carefully explored through numerous, and well-chosen examples. Unlike many books that show different images as examples of different formats, Freeman often selects one, single image and shows how its perception will change, depending on the selected format or compositional principle at play. In the chapters on framing I enjoyed particularly the sections focused on "going against the grain" or against the "natural direction" of an image, i.e., shooting typically "vertical" topics (e.g., a standing man) as horizontal frame, or the other way round (e.g., a sleeping man on a bench shot in a vertical format Freeman uses).
Gradually, the author moves inwards, discussing the content of photographs in the context of forms (curves, lines, etc.) and compositional principles (e.g., symmetry, or a very complete discussion and listing of types of contrast). The closing chapters go totally "outside" of the single image, considering the impact of external framing and space around the photograph (e.g., matting), as well as multi-image compositions (such as book or magazine spreads).
As some readers have correctly pointed out, some of the information has been published before in the author's own previous books, and in other sources; but here, all the observations have been systematically, and very elegantly brought together, in one comprehensive and complete volume.
This book doesn't read easily, or fast. It forces the readers to engage both sides of their brain, since paying close attention to the images is as important here as carefully reading the words. But it is well worth the effort, and the reward, in addition to access to the authors' extensive knowledge, is a new, different way of seeing things which in themselves are not new. For me, this is the function, and definition, of a master-class, and this book certainly deserves to be called that.