The PhotoBook Journal

April 22, 2018

Jeffrey Milstein – LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York

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Photographer:  Jeffrey Milstein (born in Los Angeles, California; lives in Woodstock, New York)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York City; © 2017

Essays:  Jay Maisel, Owen Hopkins, Jeffrey Milstein

Text:  English

Hardcover, sewn, with illustrated dust cover; 10×13 inches; 144 numbered pages with 84 photographs; printed in China

Photobook Designers:  Jeffrey Milstein with Abigail Sturges

 

Notes:

This volume was selected by the Editors to be featured in celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2018.
“The best of art is not only beautiful, it surprises, it delights, and it challenges our past perceptions.”
Jay Maisel (Foreword)

 

Without a doubt, the impact humans have had on this planet of ours invites exploration and exposition of all sorts. But only a photographer with a love of both art and flying, and one who also has the combined talents of Jeffrey Milstein (architect, graphic designer, and dedicated visual artist) is able to open our eyes to the impact we have had on this earth, and make it a pleasure to view such a complex subject at the same time.

Milstein has done a fantastic job taking us under his wings, so to speak:  for several years he has dangled his high-definition cameras out of helicopters and small planes, shooting straight down to show us what a giant bird in the sky might observe, catching portions of Los Angeles and New York. The results take us to visual adventures that make us question our own nature as well – what do we consider important and necessary in order to cause major impact on our environment?

The book is divided into four parts: Neighborhoods – Commerce – Parks and Recreation – Transportation and Industry. The sections are accompanied by brief introductory comments, and the images are presented with specific captions. There are many parallels between East Coast and West Coast, as well as some contrasts, of course. What strikes us most is the newly found magnificence and beauty of even the most often viewed icons (Statue of Liberty, Getty Museum, Coney Island, Santa Monica Pier) or of mundane subjects, such as giant parking areas, whether filled or empty. From a greater distance, and with the specific eye of Milstein making selections rotating the viewpoint, selecting time of day and lighting, and specific cropping decisions, this takes it to a realm of artistry far beyond much of the drone photography presented by others, since the photographer is directly involved at all times, and specific intervention and a relationship to the subject is maintained throughout the process; this is also very evident in the final images as presented. The layout and sequence were also given careful attention: daytime shots are often surrounded by white borders, night shots by black ones, especially if paired in a spread and not printed flush as single horizontals. The presentation is varied and keeps the viewer’s interest from beginning to end.

A delightful addition to any coffee table, guaranteed to surprise, to stir up memories, and to stimulate interesting conversations!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 13, 2018

Rose-Lynn Fisher – The Topography of Tears

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Photographer:  Rose-Lynn Fisher (born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, lives in Los Angeles)

Publisher:  Bellevue Literary Press, New York, NY; © 2017

Essays:  William H. Frey II, Ph.D., Ann Lauterbach, Rose-Lynn Fisher

Text:  English

Paperback, stiff cover with French flaps; 128 pages with duotone images; 8×8 inches; printed and bound in China

Photobook Designer:  Mulberry Tree Press, Inc.

 

Notes:

I love landscape-like images of all sorts, but most especially those given out-of-the-ordinary approaches that reach into the realm of abstraction, whose representation can be considered other kinds of “scapes.”  In my own work, I have featured the body as landscape, resulting in unusual macro images, labeled “bodyscapes,” published in Blur magazine.  Of course, I also believe in the role of art as therapy, especially as a tool of self-observation, both for the photographer and the viewer. Rose-Lynn Fisher has gone in a similar direction in her visualizations, into the “micro” realm, examining the visual nature of tears (a product of emotional or onion-chopping moments) under the microscope for a number of years – a fascinating world in miniature, the world of what I would consider “tearscapes,” is the outcome, as published in this volume, entitled The Topography of Tears.

Of course it is expected that there are connections between art and the emotions, especially in a project like this. And sure enough, the titles given the images bear this out, since the author hints at moments that gave rise to the tears. The foreword and afterword by the author, as well as the essays, written by a neuroscientist and a poet, provide further contexts. Such titles as “Grief and gratitude,” “I remember you,” and “Nervous exhaustion” show a range of moments that gave rise to the examined outpourings.

The tears visualized are mostly the author’s own, and emotional conditions are necessary and concomitant contexts for these visualizations. The author essentially interrupted her emotions to capture the tears for visual examination. There two major ways in which this artistic inquiry examined tear samples: air-dried or compressed under a cover glass. Whereas the former often resulted in branchy, estuary-like structures, the latter often produced more free-form irregular patterns. Still others produced unexpected surprises that defy description. The viewer has a feeling of sitting in an elevated, drone-like position, looking in on someone’s inner turmoil that has been released for all to see. It is a bit like divining meaning from tea leaves or coffee grounds or lead castings on New Year’s Eve. You are welcome to derive your own meanings from the images; some sample pages are shown here without the titles to keep you guessing.

This volume is an excellent study in self-examination through art. I feel inspired to dig out my microscope and start exploring!

For those readers interested in an overview regarding the therapeutic possibilities of art, I refer you to the volume edited by Judith Aron Rubin:  Approaches to Art Therapy: Theory and Technique. 3rd Edition. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Gerhard Clausing

 

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April 4, 2018

Gary Ng – 1 + 1 = 3

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Gerhard Clausing @ 7:45 pm

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Photographer:  Gary Ng (born and resides in Hong Kong)

Self-published, © 2017

Stiff cover, machine-sewn; 15×21 cm; 49 pages in full color; edition of 50 signed and numbered copies

 

Notes:

Several years ago, there was a series of books by Fred Hüning, published by Peperoni Books, Berlin, entitled Einer/Zwei/Drei (2010-2011), subsequently reissued in a single volume, entitled One Circle (2013). Those volumes recounted a personal history, tracing the photographer’s journey from being single, finding a partner, all the way to establishing and nurturing a family unit. That project constituted a three-part mini-saga accompanied by poetry and other texts.

In the present volume by Gary Ng, which has as its title a cute equation that is not mathematically correct but definitely points to natural expansion, we are also confronted with what can be a universal narrative, and all of that in a slim volume of 49 pages, without any text or titles for the images. This allows the viewers to project themselves into the narrative even more readily.

Ng’s photography is full of symbolism, which allows us easy extrapolation to our own lives: where there is pleasure, there is also pain, or: The path to a new life can also be full of strife. We see moments of loneliness in a large city, we see signs of vulnerability such as bandaged wounds and marks left by tight clothing, and broken glass or container pieces. Contrast that with images presenting symbols of vigorous life, primarily represented by the color red (ladybugs, lipstick, fruit), and symbols of fertility, such as eggs or the peeled apple held in the woman’s hand. There are also many other images that present ambiguity, just the way we like it in a volume of fine art photography. Intertwined body parts add to the mysterious and quirky presentation, at times with a measure of humor.  Alas, the offspring does arrive near the end of the volume, and I leave the discovery of that image to those who obtain the book. Many moments of waiting, gestures of supplication and thanks, and visual surprises lead up to that point.

A compactly articulated, intriguing narrative, well thought out, informally presented, yet formally sequenced. A most enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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March 23, 2018

Laia Abril – On Abortion

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:09 am

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Artist: Laia Abril (born & resides Barcelona, Spain)

Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing, UK, 2018

Text: English

Hard cover, sewn binding, four-color and duotone lithography, printed by Grafiche dell’Artiere, Bologna (IT)

Photobook designer: Laia Abril, Ramon Pez

Notes: The extended title of Laia Abril’s new book is A History of Misogyny, Chapter One, On Abortion and the Repercussions of Lack of Access, which is a bit more informative as to her extended photojournalist investigation. The key word is repercussions, as she provides ample evidence of how over the years many women have suffered extensively due to their reproductive capabilities.

Abril has not shy’d from this thorny inter-continental and multilayered cultural, political and religious land-mine like subject. Abril and her co-designer Ramon Pez have incorporated this multi-layering theme into the design of the book which incorporates narrow interior pages that create overlapping pages. These narrow pages when turned  then reveal additional text and images to further inform the reader. The book design reinforces their narrative as to state; nothing is very easy or as straight forward as it might first appear.

In her earlier book The Epilogue, she weaved sharply delineated family archive photographs of her subject in with her own documentary style photographs, while in this book the archive photographs of her subject are frequently less defined. In many instances there is only a hint of a potential likeness of her subject, perhaps due to confidentiality.  Nevertheless I find the abstracted portraits to create more visually expansive images and allowing the reader to reflect on their own version of this story. Does it really change the impact of her narrative if we see the actual likeness of someone who has passed away as a result of some botched medical procedure or social/cultural taboo?

This book is a call to action and the subject is still extremely slippery, while she makes a strong case that we as a society need to reexamine many of our cultural and moral beliefs as to these difficult situations for women.

Other photobooks by Laia Abril featured on The PhotoBook Journal: The Epilogue and Thinspiration

Cheers

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March 18, 2018

Report on Photobook Day at LACP Open House, March 17

Filed under: Artist Books, Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: — Gerhard Clausing @ 9:30 pm

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Yesterday was a very exciting day at the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP) in Hollywood. During its Open House Weekend, March 17 emphasized photobooks.

The day started with a fascinating presentation by our own Douglas Stockdale. In covering the topic “Photobook Pre-Visualization,” he took the audience on a tour of his own book-publishing history, and shared some of the thoughts, trials, and tribulations behind each of several projects. Contrasting his commercially published volume Ciociaria with several projects in the self-publishing category (Bluewater Shore, Middle Ground), it was an apt demonstration how projects move from the conceptual stage to the finished product, and what all can happen in between. Doug especially emphasized the importance of the necessary haptic and visceral experience with physical “dummies” (maquettes), since you can change the format and sequence around as much as necessary until a satisfactory sample is arrived at. For his latest project, Middle Ground, he showed four stages of dummy preparation.

Dan Milnor, Creative Evangelist for Blurb, was next, with his presentation “Self-Publishing for Photographers: Blurb Books.” Here too the emphasis was on creativity and experimentation. Blurb provides a variety of tools and printing sizes and formats to fit any idea a photographer might have. Dan emphasized that potential photobook artists should dare to break out of the constraints of predictability and sameness. He encouraged each photographer to be “an interesting original human being” and to collaborate, especially with excellent designers.  He then presented a range of photobooks, published by himself over time, as well as by others, showing multiple format ideas, and discussed some cost issues as well.

The third major event was a panel discussion on “How to Get Your Book Published.” With Douglas Stockdale as moderator, experiences were shared by Stephen Schafer, Cat Gwynn (we will be reviewing her book here shortly), Sarah Hadley, Dan Milnor, and Mark Edward Harris. Projects covered included, among others,  photography in exotic locales, publishing offbeat projects, and the role of photography as a therapeutic experience.

In the vendor area, it was possible to check out products and services presented by ASMP-Los Angeles, Blurb, Canon, Dual Graphics, Fabrik Projects, Freestyle, Hahnemühle, and The Artist Corner. A portfolio and book walk by LACP members and presenters (shown above), as well as raffle prize drawings, rounded out the afternoon. The day was also enhanced by food and refreshments facilitated by the one and only Julia Dean (Executive Director), Brandon Gannon, and other dedicated staff members and assistants. Thank you to all — it was a lovely and productive day!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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Douglas Stockdale, explaining one of the dummy stages of Middle Ground

 

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Dan Milnor, Blurb Creative Evangelist

 

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Panel Discussion: D. Stockdale with Stephen Schafer, Cat Gwynn discussing Ten-Mile Radius, and Sarah Hadley

 

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Sarah Hadley discussing her project about Venice, with Dan Milnor

 

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Dan Milnor listening to Mark Edward Harris

 

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Photography is about sharing!
All photographs © Gerhard Clausing 2018

March 1, 2018

Rodrigo Ramos – Ex Corde (From the Heart; De todo corazón)

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: — Gerhard Clausing @ 6:38 am

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Photographer:  Rodrigo Ramos (born and lives in Mexico City, Mexico)

Publisher:  Self-published; © 2015

Illustrated folder (29.5×40 cm) containing 8 sheets (76×27.5 cm), folded in half, yielding 32 pages; color offset printing by Offset Santiago in Mexico City; edition of 500

Photobook design:  Alejandra Magdaleno, Emiliano Molina, Rodrigo Ramos

Notes: I selected this book as an excellent example for how a project can evolve from an idea through the maquette (dummy) stage to the final published product, garnering awards along the way. Rodrigo Ramos has had an interest in photographing boxers to show the struggles they endure, ranging from career hopes and ambitions, physical and mental training and stamina, to the actual encounters in sports events with the potential and actual injuries of various levels of severity.

As the project progressed, the metaphorical importance of the boxers’ struggles as a representation of strength, masculinity, and, at the same time, vulnerability became evident, and the artistic implications of his work were strengthened. This metaphor allows us to apply those struggles to those we experience ourselves, our own hopes, ambitions, fears, hurts, and the overall meaning of life, subject to many emotions, “from the heart.” The inspiration for this work, the martyr San Sebastian, is fitting: the fight for what you believe in can require extreme hardships.

The photographs in this volume are very dynamic, well-chosen shots of the training sessions and fight events, both portraits and action shots—overall, a very body-focused approach. The sheets, when folded in half, measure 11×15 inches, and are presented in a slightly larger folder, well printed (some are printed flush across the entire size, i.e., 22×15 inches), while others are diptychs, resembling a well-thought-out professional portfolio; the juxtaposition of the images flows well, by subject, shape, gesture, and color. Since the sheets are loose, not bound, they can be arranged differently by the viewer.

I highly value the fact that this loose-leaf structure empowers the viewer/owner of the book. You can study the narrative sequence as designed by the makers of the book. Or, like a puzzle, you can reassemble the images and juxtapose them in any order and in any combination you desire. Thus the viewer/owner is elevated to the role of full participant, both regarding the curating of the art, as well as the personal impact particular pairings may have. You can mount your own exhibition, to match the ideas you may have as to what images best go together in your own mind.

The possibilities of such a book model and its particular personal reinvention are almost endless. A couple of examples of new juxtapositions are shown below. We see this model of narrative presentation seldom enough; prime examples are David Alan Harvey’s based on a true story (contemporary Rio) and Douglas Stockdale’s Bluewater Shore (women on vacation, based on family photographs), which I reviewed here.

Ex Corde by Rodrigo Ramos was included in CLAP! – Contemporary Latin American Photobooks, discussed in The PhotoBook Journal  here.

This volume of photographs is not only fascinating to view, but also gives the viewers the opportunity to get in touch with their own struggles and outcomes. A superb challenge!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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February 24, 2018

Photobook Day March 17 With Douglas Stockdale & Special Guests – LACP Open House (March 16-18, 2018)

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Photo courtesy of Douglas Stockdale, Founder/Editor of  The PhotoBook Journal

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Join LACP for our Sixth Annual
Spring Open House


Featuring workshops, panel discussions, portfolio & photo book walk, raffle prizes, vendors, food, drink and much more!!

March 16th – 18th, 10 am – 5 pm

 

On Friday, March 16, 10 am – 5 pm, bring your old, used camera equipmentand turn it into cash! 

  • KEH Camera will be at LACP all day buying used photo equipment
    On Saturday, March 17th, 10 am – 5 pm, celebrate the Photo Book with workshops, panel discussions, portfolio walks and more!

 

Saturday, March 17, 10 am – 5 pm

On Saturday, March 17th, 10 am – 5 pm, celebrate the Photo Book with workshops, panel discussions, portfolio walks and more!

10:15-11:00 am – “Photo Book Pre-Visualization” taught by  Douglas Stockdale, Founder/Editor, The PhotoBook Journal
$20 for Members; $40 for Non-Members

11:15 am-12:00 pm – “Self-Publishing for Photographers: Blurb Books” with Dan Milnor,
$20 for Members; $40 for Non-Members

12:30-1:30 pm – Free Panel Discussion, “How to Get Your Photo Book Published,
moderated by Douglas Stockdale, Founder/Editor, The PhotoBook Journal
Panelists include Dan Milnor, Cat Gwynn, and more (TBA).

2:30-4:30 pm – Free Portfolio and Photo Book Walk featuring the work of LACP Members  (contact info@lacphoto.org to sign up for a table space)

Throughout the day:
• There will be various organizations and vendors present including ASMP Los Angeles, Hahnemühle, Freestyle, Blurb, The Artist Corner, and more!
• Raffle tickets available and prize drawings!
• Complimentary lunch (served from 1:30 – 2:30 pm)
• Complimentary wine and beer (served from 1:30-4:30 pm)

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Sunday, March 18, 10 am – 5 pm

  • Come take part in one of several of our 17 “mini” classes and seminars.  A full day pass is only $100!!

10:00 am:
1) “Portraiture: An Artistic Journey” with Ken Merfeld
2) “Understanding Your Camera’s Features” with Peter Bennett

11:00 am:
1) “Introduction to the Documentary World” with Kevin Weinstein
2) “Let’s Talk Lenses” with Peter Bennett
3) “Creating Worlds and Stories with Photomontage” with Ry Sangalang

12:00 pm:
1) “Portrait Studio Lighting” with Jennifer Emery
2) “The Singular Vision” with Andrew Southam
3) “Optimizing Your Images in Camera Raw Before using Photoshop” with Ed Freeman

2:00 pm:
1) “Street Photography Essentials” with Ibarionex Perello
2) “Moving Your Career Forward: Steps to Success for Photographers” with Sherrie Berger
3) “Black & White Conversion using Lightroom” with Rollence Patugan

3:00 pm:
1) “Crash Flash” with Julia Dean
2) “Best Practices Using Social Media for Photographers” with Paul-Michael Carr, TBA
3) “Monitor Calibration” with Eric Joseph

4:00 pm:
1) “How to Teach Photography” with Julia Dean
2) TBA
3) “Digital Printmaking Primer” with Eric Joseph

  • Click HERE to sign up for the classes.  (Please note not all classes are posted yet.)
    • Individual classes are $20 for Members; $40 for Non-Members. Sign up now! Seating is limited.
    A one-day Sunday pass is $100 for Members; $200 for Non-Members.

The Open House is all about community. It’s a time and place for all those interested in photography and the arts to come together and meet, socialize, learn, laugh and grow. Network with other artists, try your luck at some terrific raffle prizes, sell your used camera equipment, meet organizational vendors, take some classes and more! Whatever your pleasure may be, we encourage you to spend a weekend with us, invite your family and friends, and enjoy some good camaraderie, fellowship and fun!

A Time and Place for the
Photo Community to Come Together

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February 21, 2018

Charles-Frédérick Ouellet – Le Naufrage

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Photographer:  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet (born in Chicoutimi; lives in Québec City, Canada)

Publisher:  Les Éditions du renard, Montréal, Canada; © 2017

Text:  Poem “Dompter le naufrage” by Fabien Cloutier

Language:  French

Illustration:  Frédérik Lévesque

Hardback, sewn; 108 pages with 55 images, paginated; 9 x 10.5″; printed in Canada by Deschamps Impression; edition of 500 and special edition of 30

Photobook Design:  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet and CRITERIUM

 

Notes:

I recently reviewed a book by Gerald Boyer from Catalonia, in which the main emphasis was childhood recollections and family connections around the rugged terrain along the northeastern coast of Spain. Part of those recollections concerned the camaraderie of going fishing in “the cove.” In the present work, things get much rougher.  Charles-Frédérick Ouellet has been documenting the very traditional work of the fishermen of the Quebec/St. Lawrence River area and its connected bodies of water, men who earn their livelihood by braving rough waters and other natural turmoil to bring home their catch; they follow in the path of ancient traditions.

The title of this volume is Le Naufrage (The Shipwreck), and that title certainly makes us wonder if the specter of tragedy and unforeseen events are in the minds of such men pursuing their rugged trade. And sure enough, in the back of the volume there is a fitting poem by Fabien Cloutier entitled, “Dompter le naufrage” (“Dodging the Shipwreck,” perhaps with the implication, “Against all odds”), which lets us in on the images floating about in the fishermen’s minds: separated from their people, they will brave the storm, overcome their fear of disaster, and get back safely to the land and their loved ones again…

This narrative of fishermen is well photographed and handsomely presented. Ouellet rode along on the boats for several years and got to know the men well, pitched in when needed, and was subject to the same adverse conditions as they were. Thus they fully accepted him; he was able to obtain honest views of both calm and rough moments. There is some effect of pictorialism to the work, and I mean that in a very complimentary way. The overall feeling of nostalgia, survival, and temporality is generalized through choices of light and composition that nudge the work toward the abstract and support its strong graphic impact. The longing for the safety of the land exists along with the urge for excitement; the romantic veneer has been removed and the images show the best photojournalistic vision that is enveloped in an artistic presentation. The segment of images taken on the water is surrounded by an initial and a final portion that show terra firma and recollections of nature as a kind of “before”and “after,” which complete the contexts these men experience. The use of small Leica film-based rangefinder cameras on the water, and large-format film cameras for the landscapes and clouds, was a very effective strategy that provided Ouellet with technical ruggedness when needed and an overall artistic look. We are put in the midst of the action in well-composed images and nicely sequenced scenic views. The ever-changing weather conditions certainly also provide a strong background for this narrative. Paisley endpapers, a very pleasing matte paper stock for the printed pages (both ivory and gray), a bound bookmark, and a painting showing rough waves also support the elegant appearance of this book.

A most enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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February 20, 2018

Workshop on Photobook Editing with Valentina Abenavoli – Kassel, Germany, May 28-30, 2018

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: — Gerhard Clausing @ 8:55 am

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The Tenth Photobook Festival in Kassel, Germany, will feature an interesting collaborative workshop on editing photographs in preparation for photobook publication, “From the Theory to the Book.” It will be led by Valentina Abenavoli, who is also a successful publisher of photobooks (AKINA Books).

The description of this English-language workshop states in part:

FROM THE THEORY TO THE BOOK  is a collaborative workshop aimed to analyse how to read an image, understanding the endless possibilities of the editing process and its meaningful limitations, as well as exploring and developing a method both creative and practical, with a hand-on approach for the sequence. The workshop will attempt to cover all the theoretical tools useful to build up a visual narrative in the book form: shifting the reading of a single image to a sequence of images, editing according to the concept and the intentions of the work, questioning the visual representation and the messages conveyed in the images, when placed in a sequence. Collective feedback and trials will lead to discover possible pairs and sequences of photographs, understanding the potential of a photographic project and re-imagine it in a book form. Every photobook is a self-contained universe with its own set of rules. A series of photographs can be a starting point for the process of creating a story, within two covers. During the genesis of a photobook, ambiguities and clashes, unexpected juxtapositions and riddles will emerge, revealing the pleasure and pain of visual language. Every picture will gain a different meaning when placed in a broader perspective of the book as a whole.

More information can be found on their website.

February 16, 2018

Todd Webb – I See a City: Todd Webb’s New York

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 8:04 pm

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Photographer:  Todd Webb (1905-2000; born in Detroit, Michigan)

Editor:  Betsy Evans Hunt

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, New York, NY; © 2017

Essays:  Sean Corcoran, Daniel Okrent, Betsy Evans Hunt

Language:  English

Sewn hardback with illustrated dust cover; 10 x 12 inches; 150 black-and-white images; 176 pages, paginated throughout; printed and bound in China

Photobook Designer:  BTD/NYC

 

Notes:

New York City has always held a special place in the hearts and minds of the world. The New York of the mid-1940s through the 1950s had its own unique atmosphere. One of the busiest metropolitan areas, it was characterized by neighborhoods with distinct characteristics and a somewhat more leisurely pace, somewhat apart from the hustle and bustle of the commercial areas, which also were more individually distinct than they are today. The troops had come home from World War II and were welcomed warmly by the citizenry; the charm of the past was still to be seen as the future was peeking over the horizon. For the photography world, this was the time of Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe (whom Webb later photographed in New Mexico), the Callahans, the Newhalls, Minor White, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Lisette Model, Gordon Parks, and others with whom Todd Webb was well connected.

Todd Webb had a knack for finding the unusual in ordinary subjects. The New York shown in his work is distinguished by the loving depiction of the vestiges of times gone by within the context of the moment; the emphasis is on neighborhoods such as Harlem and the lower East Side, all with their distinct buildings and signage. Often the humans depicted recede into the background, dwarfed by the enormity of the city, buildings of old and other structures such as the “El” (elevated city rail transportation), many of which have since been replaced. In fact, many times Webb would leave out people and merely photograph evidence of their activities or concerns, such as signs welcoming soldiers home or shop windows with their personally or culturally unique visual and verbal messages. There is an appealing timelessness and slower pace to the city as depicted here, mostly from a street-level perspective, a historic window into the many details making the mosaic that was the NYC of that time, a portrait that also gives a certain amount of dignity to subjects not members of the more upscale part of society, as Daniel Corcoran points out in his essay.

This sumptuously printed oversized volume presents the best of Todd Webb’s New York City work, collected in an appealing sequence edited by Betsy Evans Hunt, the Executive Director of the Todd Webb Archive, who also details her connections to Webb in the appendix. There are also two illuminating essays, by Sean Corcoran and Daniel Okrent, that supply details about the background of the photographer and his time. The images are accompanied by captions that provide the place and year for each; the sequencing is well paced to suit the variety of subjects and moods. This publication follows a Fall 2017 exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York; prints of this work of Todd Webb, as well as Africa 1958, will be at AIPAD 2018, The Photography Show, April 2018.

A historical volume of great documentary and artistic significance!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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