Over the last year, I’ve had the privilege of viewing so many photographs that taught me, were so pleasurable, or so intriguing. This list is not only a raft of remarkable pictures, but is a decidedly semic code, with books that entwine with literature; the quality I looked for on this list is work that shows, rather than tells. I think these books possess honesty, vision, and brilliance, but this list is not meant as a list of Christmas books, per se. I wanted to express gratitude and admiration, for pictures and ideas, by writing this. Of course, if you are looking for a book for the holidays, I think these will be gratifying, and will inspire photographic practice, and lead to new perspectives, but I also wanted to invite readers of the TCS blog, and our customers, to feel free to email me for specific recommendations. I hope I have learned some of the art of finding just the right book, and The Camera Store has a notable collection of technical books, monographs, and catalogs to draw from, and I can order specially, from near and far.
I am using a few different guides to say something about Rocky Mountain Books re-print of Robert Kroetsch’s novel “Badlands”, which also contains a portfolio of images of the eponymous area located on the Red Deer River, a couple hundred kilometers east of Calgary. I have been reading a series in the Financial Times by Francis Hodgson, called “A Dream Photo Collection”. I submit Webber’s first photograph in this book (pg. 276. from1987) as a consummate dream photo, it is my favorite type of picture, in the realm of ethnographic photos, a picture that falls into the category of “near documentary”. Identity slips in this picture, but more on this later…
Recently, I fell into conversation with a well-known, inventive portrait photographer over the question of individuality. The gentleman contended that people sometimes look alike, and found a correlation between morphology and character. Dangerous territory, given the history of photography, but I tend to agree with the assertion, and disagree at the same time. Solipsistic, I know, but I never think of a single iota of what I write as “objective” in the slightest, and I forgive solipsism. Dear reader, I hope you do too.
Reading a recent publication entitled, “Images of the Body in Architecture”, I learned of how architecture can be thought of as deriving from the Greek (and before that) word “arche”, meaning beginning (or primal work, like using an axe, for shaping wood, or incising stone), combined with “techne”, meaning crafting (by using an axe, for instance.) Stay with me… I know I am starting off in an esoteric way, but I want to get to something key, part-and-parcel with what I wrote about in the last review, regarding “having an axe to grind”, and what I called “academic” photography.
On the day of writing this I flubbed the origin of photography in conversation, and the who-is-who difference between Jean-Louis Daguerre, and Nicéphore Niépce, who were the original “inventors” of photography. We’ve been selling “Capturing the Light” lately, which, I am told, is a “highly readable” historical biography (I have to confess that I don’t know what “highly readable” means.