The PhotoBook

May 25, 2017

Cheryl Dunn – This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 11:48 pm

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Photographer:  Cheryl Dunn (born in Old Tappan, NJ; resides in New York City, NY)

Publisher:  Deadbeat Club Press, Los Angeles, CA; © 2017

Stiff cover, saddle-stitched; 52 unnumbered pages with 43 black-and-white and color images; digital offset printing, 6×9 inches, edition of 300.  (Deadbeat Club #53)

Notes: 

For all those who are wondering what the United States is currently struggling with, this is a very timely volume of telling photographs. Cheryl Dunn is a photographer from New York City who effectively visualizes both heart and soul of this divided country and turns it into a brief but iconic presentation. No wonder, she has a strong record in editorial and advertising work, as well as portraiture, and has also directed an amazing feature-length documentary film on street photography in New York City, Everybody Street, seen through the eyes of well-known photographers (details on her website, as linked above). NYC can certainly be considered a most representative amalgam of cultures and therefore of opposing viewpoints as well.

So in this very important volume we see the forces of a healthy democracy at work. There is a divisiveness fueled by particular political interests, by economic needs, by the crude realities of long-standing military strife, by the marginalization of and disdain for minority groups, and other factors. Here we see a visualized panorama of opinions, driven by many emotions, such as anxiety, fear, anger, dismay, and sadness – of the groups opposing the election of a government by a minority of voters due to electoral college rules and some voter lethargy, of the groups that find themselves at minimal existence levels and are hoping for government magic, while blaming the “others” for their woes, of the young people who as a more accepting population segment are hoping for a better future with less violence and hatred, and with more varied economic opportunities. Some representative double pages are shown below. The pacing of the volume and the pairing of images are designed to keep the viewers curious and interested throughout. Observations of minute detail that shows everyday life as it transpires everywhere under any circumstances are also refreshing. Well done!

Congratulations and thanks to the photographer and Deadbeat Club for making such interesting work available at such an affordable price, and kudos for encouraging the use of film-based photography as well!

Gerhard Clausing

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May 16, 2017

Barbara Peacock – Hometown

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Photographer: Barbara Peacock (b. Waltham, MA – resides Portland, ME)

Publisher: Bazan Photo Publishing (Brooklyn, NY) copyright 2016

Essays: Barbara Peacock, Ernesto Bazan

Text: English

Embossed linen hardcover with tipped in photograph, sewn binding, four-color lithography, list of photographs, printed by Puritan Capital (New Hampshire)

Photobook designer: Kevin Sweeney

Notes: Barbara Peacock documented her own hometown of 30 plus years, while perhaps the citizens of the town grew older, her visual concept of what a hometown meant, continued to evolve. Her subject is a small New England town, Westford, located Massachusetts. There is enough contextual ambiguity as to the actual location that Peacock’s hometown could be representative of any small town in the East or Midwest region of America, which is a factor that draws me and probably other readers into this monograph.

She opens with an urban landscape photograph of a small market, an archetype of the local hang-out for bored kids in a small town. It appears that topic of conversation for her subjects that day was probably her and the view camera balanced on the tripod as the woman who kept darting under the curious black sheet. Her young subjects gaze directly at the lens not realizing that this was a poignant moment in time in 1982 and they were in the process of becoming subjects of nostalgia and memory when this photograph is contemplated some thirty-five years later. We can speculate that some of these same kids probably now have children of their own that are this same age or maybe even older, although Peacock states that this small market is no longer there and that one of these boys has since passed.

We witness an evolution of photographic style, from a formalism of a large format camera with color film to an informal capture in expressive black & white that encompasses digital capture methods. There is also a subtle pairing of the photographs within the book, such as the image below of the contrasting lives of the dejected appearing older woman who Elvis is still adoring and the opposing photograph of the antics of young men hanging out with skate boards and engrossed in what’s on their cell phones.

She records the quite moments of normal life being lived without big drama. We can find ourselves, friends and family in the midst of her hometown investigation and these photographs may trigger memories of our own past “normal” events.

This photobook was juried into the Photo Independent Photo Book Competition and subsequent exhibition.

Cheers!

Douglas

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May 12, 2017

Roger Ballen – The Theatre of Apparitions

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Photographer:  Roger Ballen (born in New York City, NY; resides in Johannesburg, South Africa)

Publisher:  Thames & Hudson, London; © 2016

Essays:  Preface by Roger Ballen; introduction by Colin Rhodes

Text:  English

Hardcover with dust jacket, sewn binding; 192 numbered pages; 90 monochrome captioned photographs; printed in China; 17.5×25 cm

 

Notes:

On April 22, 2017, in his keynote address at the annual Photo Independent Exposition (celebrating the Los Angeles Festival of Photography), Roger Ballen said that “everything happens in and with the mind.” Further, in response to a question from the audience regarding the possibility of a photographer exploiting his or her subjects, he further expanded on this theme, expressing his view that we all exploit or make use of others, since we are all programmed to live, and thus as a matter of survival must consume other living matter, be they plants or animals. Leave it to a professional geologist to brazenly uncover that which is hidden, to unearth the earthly as well as the unearthly, the more ethereal forces behind our externalized everyday scenes! The subconscious and the unconscious are powerful forces in the Ballenesque perception of life, guiding our thoughts, emotions, and actions, and he brings them into our visual and emotional awareness.

I consider Ballen the visual Shakespeare of our time, with good measures of Freud and Jung tossed in, especially Jung! He knows the many parts we play externally in the drama of life, but also most especially the archetypal parts within each of us that are struggling and trying to assert themselves, as some of them may wish to be externalized; they hover, cower, act out the most secret of emotions, desires, fears, and drives, and translate them into potential actions in our everyday existence. The shadows know it all… In collaboration with Marguerite Rossouw, Ballen paints and draws these spirits on windows and other panes, then photographs the results, one-of-a-kind and ethereal as works of art, and short-lived except through the photographs and this book, a source of self-discovery and astonishment for those who dare. Inspired originally by such drawings in an abandoned institution, Ballen has moved toward incorporating drawing and painting into his art over the past several years, in this instance to create primeval and primitive effects.

This volume is all black and white, with black backgrounds on all the pages, as shown below, and with only white and simulated shades of gray used for the drawings and paintings. On 192 pages, 90 photographs are reproduced, comprising seven sections, labeled “acts,” true to the title promising theatrical apparitions: persona – burlesque – eros – transmuted – melancholy – fragmentation – ethereal. There is usually only one image per double-page spread, either on the left or on the right, with a short title and the year of creation opposite each image. I am showing a representative image from each section below, in sequence. The image titles are kept short on purpose, since Ballen is of the school of thought that many words are only needed for bad images. Occasionally there is a playful use of language, e.g. “Hold Up” (page 87), third image below. The sum total is a contribution that invites the viewer to engage in introspection against an ancient and transient stage full of surprises, a mirror of our collective internal world, to be examined with some measure of daring and acumen.

A challenging work, full of fascinating encounters.

The PhotoBook previously featured two reviews by Douglas Stockdale of Roger Ballen’s Boarding House and Asylum of the Birds.

Gerhard Clausing

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May 9, 2017

Dual Graphics & Fultone Printing

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 9:14 pm

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David Gardner & Ansel Adams (date unknown) copyright Dual Graphics

This is one in a series of on-going articles to help photographers understand a bit more about the design and printing intricacies that eventually leads to a creative book object.

I recently had the opportunity to work with the design and printing team at Dual Graphics (Brea, CA) for my recently self-published artist book, Bluewater Shore. I will have to admit that after relocating to Southern California, their Fultone® printing processes, developed initially for Black & White photobooks, was legendary. I have always wanted to have my Black & White photographs printed in a book by these folks as they are the equal in quality to any book printing organization in the world. And especially for me, or anywhere in the western U.S., they are local, thus the opportunity to meet with them, finalize my book design (they had some really good ideas that were incorporated into my artist book) and able to complete an evaluation of the final hard-copy proof-checks on-site.

So let’s get into the interview with Kevin Broady (see his bio below)

Douglas Stockdale (DS) Hi Kevin, thank you for meeting with me to discuss your experience working with the late David Gardner and his innovative Fultone® Black & White printing techniques at Dual Graphics. This printing process has an important and lasting impact on the publication of fine photographic books, especially those that illustrate Black & White photographs. First, could you tell me about how you and Gardner met and your relationship with him?

Kevin Broady (KB): When I was in High School our printing class went on a Field Trip to Gardner/ Fulmer Lithograph (editors note; the predecessor company to Dual Graphics) and I was amazed by the quality of printing that I saw there – that was back in 1976. After Graduating from Cal Poly in 1985 I went to work for Gardner/Fulmer Lithograph. Orbie Fulmer hired me after the first interview. I was hired as an assistant production coordinator and after a few weeks David Gardner had me work on a few of his printing projects. He saw that I had extreme interest in what we did and he sort of took me under his wing. He was also into sports and when he found out that I was a competitive runner he drew even closer to me. When going over color and during press checks Gardner would make sure that I was at his side. He showed me what he was looking for in an image and how important it was to make the reproduction as close to the original as possible. He along with Orbie Fulmer became my mentor.

DS: What is the Fultone® printing process at Dual Graphics?

KB:  The Fultone® process came as we attempted to refine techniques utilizing duo-tones and tri-tone off-set printing to give Black & White photography the extra pop to mimic a photographic print. After years of experimenting and refining the off-set process, we wanted to create a trademark that differentiated it from other duo-tone work. The name Fultone® came from Gardner meaning a full range tone within the printed image. The end result of a well-executed Fultone® delivers a printed image that provides extra density in the shadows without compromising any loss of detail. It also adds a level of clarity to the subtle details in the mid-tones and highlights.

When I started working for Gardner/Fulmer Lithograph in the spring of 1986 the Fultone® was already in the early development stages. Jim Gronwall (who currently works in sales at Dual Graphics) was in charge of the scanning department and was deeply involved in the early stages of color management. Basically the goal (in the beginning) was to make a photographic reproduction look as close to the original image as possible with a laser scanned image.  Taking the customer’s original, dissecting it and then putting it back together on an off-set printed sheet with as much accuracy and care as possible is what our process is about. Since the early days we have fine-tuned this printing process more and more, first on the big off-set presses, now on the digital lithography press. Being able to broaden the tonal range to get increased levels of highlight, mid-tone and shadow range is what we are after. The actual off-set press (Editors note: six-color Heidelberg off-set presses) we print on has an equal share in this as well. We have tested different inks and continue to do so making sure that we are able to maintain the deepest densities that we can while keeping all detail open. Getting the two colors (Black & Gray) to work together to create the tonal range and hue that the original photograph demands is what the Fultone® process does.

DS: How did the creative printing techniques develop that led to the Fultone® printing process? Was that development process a bumpy ride?

KB: We were one of the first to actually use a digital scanner to produce these Fultone® plates. The negatives coming off the scanner lost a little more of the shadow information than we cared to lose so we actually scanned positives and then contacted them into negatives. The Fultone® process evolved over time and is still evolving with our recent work on the HP Indigo 12000 for digital lithographic printing. Proofing a Fultone® is a difficult process because it is so press dependent.

DS: The development of the Fultone® Black & White printing process eventually led to the relationship with the photographer Ansel Adams and the printing of his Black & White photographic books. How did that occur?

KB: We were working with John Sexton to produce a brochure for his Owens Valley Workshop that he was leading and organizing. Roger Wright (a pressman at Gardner/Fulmer lithograph) would bring Sexton copies of Picture Magazine that was printed at Gardner/Fulmer. Sexton was amazed at the high quality of the printing of that magazine. Gardner found out about this and offered to print the Owens Valley Workshop brochure for him and gave Sexton a really great deal on printing the brochures. Sexton, who was an assistant for Ansel Adams at the time, subsequently showed his brochure to Adams and thus began the adventure with Adams.

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Roman Loranc on-press with Kevn Broady at Dual Graphics

DS: From what I understand, there are a lot of variations for the Fultone® printing, can you explain the different options that a photographer should be aware of?

KB: The process starts with an interview of the photographer about his work and how he wants it portrayed in print. Options include tone (color) in the highlights, mid-tones and shadows as well as levels of clarity. Considerations also need to be made for paper type/finish, whether the substrate (paper) is matte, luster gloss, coated, uncoated and the varnish techniques, such as full spot or a dot varnish.

The main thing that the photographer should be aware of is that the Fultone® is designed to reproduce their images. There are many photographers that are looking for a certain look – which is represented in their photography. The Fultone® will give them that look. If there is something extra or if there is a deviation that the photographer requires – that can be done as well. It really starts with getting a feel for what the photographer is looking to do. If it is simply “match our images” then that is what we will do. The substrate (paper) has a huge impact on the images. We will listen to the photographer, provide recommendations and have a clear understanding of the goal before getting started.

DS: I assume that what was learned by implementing the Fultone® printing process carried over to the color printing?

KB: Our job is to understand the photographer’s vision and reproduce those images using all of the color separation, color management and print techniques available in combination with each other. Each job utilizes different techniques to deliver a result that falls in line with the photographer’s vision. I think our reproduction techniques are more artistic than mechanical.

With our ability to increase the range of Black & White printing we have also been able to increase the range of our four color process printing. The understanding and implementation of color management has also allowed us to expand the color palette available with our printing techniques.

DS: I am sure that there are other printing and binding innovations that Gardner helped to shepherd thru the printing industry that benefit photographic books that most photographers are now aware of? Can you tell me about those?

KB: Yes, Gardner and Fulmer were in front of many printing innovations. They posterized images and used metallic in the images to form silver-liths prints. They figured out how to print on Mylar for calendars and on other printing substrates. They developed a way to print on uncoated paper with great success.

DS: The book printing industry is very dynamic today, such as the recent development of the Print-on-Demand books.  What creative developments do you foresee for the near future that photographers can look forward to?

KB:  Absolutely. At every level we continue to work on the Fultone® process. Going direct to plate for the lithographic as well as using a staccato screening we are able to fine tune and improve the off-set printing even more. We are always looking for opportunities and we see a huge one in the digital short run arena, such as with the HP Indigo 12000 digital lithographic press (Editors note: my artist book Bluewater Shore is the first book printed with the Fultone® process on an HP Indigo digital press). We are currently testing this digital press and now have very promising results. We recognize the need to provide high quality short run printing projects, such as small volume photographic books, whether it is one or 700, and are working to meeting the photographic industry requirements.

DS: Any last thoughts?

KB: One of the things that Gardner taught me is how important it is to get the reproduction right. If you compromise the reproduction you are compromising the photographer. He said one of his best quotes he ever got from Ansel Adams after viewing one of his images printed “I have no problem with image enhancement – this looks better than the original”.

DS: Kevin, thank you for your time and sharing with us your experience working with Gardner and how the printing of fine photographic books is evolving.

Kevin Broady (Los Angeles CA, 1961) Broady has over thirty years’ experience in the printing industry, from shop-floor running lithographic presses, bindery equipment, pre-press separations to estimator, operations management and President of Gardner Lithograph. Currently he is the Plant Manager for Dual Graphics, Brea, CA. He has a degree in Printing Technology form Fullerton College, Fullerton, CA and a B.S. degree in Graphic Communications from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA.

Note: Below are interior page spreads from photobooks printed by Dual Graphics, including Penny Wolin, Descendants of Light; Michael A. Smith, A Visual Journey; Joe Deal, Between Nature and Culture; Brad Cole, The Last Dream; and Linda Butler, Inner Light.

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May 3, 2017

The PhotoBook Journal at Photo Independent

Filed under: Photo Book Discussions, Photo Book NEWS, Photo Books — Tags: — Doug Stockdale @ 11:28 pm

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Photo Independent book competition winners, copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale

Your editorial team for The PhotoBook Journal, me and Associate Editor Gerhard Clausing, had a table and an opportunity to meet and discuss photobooks at Photo Independent on the weekend of April 21 – 23rd, 2017. This including some more time with the Photo Independent book competition submissions and winners (look for the 2018 book competition announcement at the end of the year), discussions with photographers about book submissions and on Sunday morning I provided a walking photobook curatorial discussion about the book competition winners.

One photobook highlight for both Gerhard and me was spending time with Roger Ballen, the featured photographer of Photo Independent. Roger and I had been trading emails about his photobook publications for many years, so this was a great for both Clausing and me to spend a little time talking with him about his books (also having him sign some of his books that were in my collection). Clausing will be reviewing Ballen’s recent release The Theatre of Apparitions on the journal later this month.

We still have a few more of the Photo Independent photobook submissions to feature and we expect to publish these by the end of this month. One book we will not be reviewing is the artist book that is an honorable mention by Jason Reimer, 197_, below, which might be more of a book dummy. The good news that Jason is now working on a plan to publish this book, so more news about his progress later this year. We do wish him good luck for this publication venture!

Cheers!

Douglas

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Jason Reimer, 197_, Artist book, Honorable Mention, Photo Independent Photo Book Competition

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Gerhard Clausing and Roger Ballen mixing it about photobooks

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Roger Ballen, book signing (mine!)

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Gerhard Clausing, Associate Editor, at our table

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Yours truly providing a book talk on Sunday, photo by Gerhard Clausing, copyright 2017

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Goodies from Photo Independent; including books from Debe Arlook, Cathy Immordino, Richard S. Chow and Roger Ballen

April 28, 2017

Douglas Stockdale – Bluewater Shore

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Artist:  Douglas Stockdale (born Butler, PA; resides Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)

Publisher: Self-published, hand-inscribed, limited signed edition of 99; Copyright © 2017

Text: English

Stiff-cover book of 32 pages with 16 prong-bound images, unnumbered; in poly slip-cover; Fultone® digital lithography, printed by Dual Graphics, Brea, California

Notes: Photobooks that present their images in a loose format, i.e., not permanently bound and sequenced but changeable, are still the exception. One such successful work was David Alan Harvey’s 2012 project entitled (based on a true story), dealing with life in Rio, with real and imagined storylines. That innovative volume (which received a number of important awards) was designed with double pages whose sequence could be rearranged to tell a different story from the viewer’s perspective, using the same images, but with new juxtapositions. A more recent predecessor to Bluewater Shore is Douglas Stockdale’s Pine Lake, reviewed previously; it shares a similar image presentation format with Bluewater Shore, which is its sequel.

In the case of Douglas Stockdale’s Bluewater Shore, we have a hand-inscribed and hand-assembled limited edition artist book presenting a simulated drugstore-issued set of 16 prints that take the viewer on an imaginary trip taking place in the 1940s: a young woman traveling to “bluewater shore” with her women friends. Since that was a time in which women were able to feel some greater sense of self and independence, they were not accompanied by males as might have been the expected practice in previous times. We see them on their journey, we see them at the beach in various activities, and – lo and behold! – suddenly males also appear in the pictures. That’s where the story gets interesting – we don’t know who they are, or what relationships there are between them and the women, but we can project our ideas into the pictures. There are also some children in the photographs, and we don’t know whether they are relatives, or bystanders, or symbols of things to come. Since the roll of film fictitiously presented in this publication is made up of only 16 pictures and the people depicted are not available, we are only able to guess what might be taking place. Consider it a story puzzle that allows us to participate vicariously. Creative photographic storytelling at its finest!

Douglas Stockdale has taken vernacular images from his family’s archives and has repurposed them for this semi-fictitious narrative as a new single set of 16. They have been appropriately aged and once printed slightly enlarged, prong-bound into a folder that simulates how prints were once delivered with processed rolls for a small additional fee (Kodak/Ansco flip-books). There is even a seemingly unintentional double exposure. Since they are bound with a prong that can be removed from the folder, the images can be rearranged and spread out on the table as might have once been the case if they were to be evaluated or placed in an album. Thus we can experience parts of a family history and relate what we see to our own history and our shared cultural past as well. A most enjoyable photographic puzzle of memories and times gone by.

This site has also featured Douglas Stockdale’s hardbound volume, Ciociaria.

Gerhard Clausing

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April 21, 2017

Christian Nilson – The Swiss

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Photographer: Christian Nilson (born Lerum, Sweden; resides Zürich, Switzerland)

Publisher:  Scheidegger & Spiess, Zürich, Switzerland, © 2016

Essay:  Jon Bollmann

Text:  English and German

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover with debossed circles and cut holes; 96 numbered pages, four-color lithography, 67 images, not captioned; 19.5×26.5 cm, printed in Germany

Photobook Designer:  Greger Ulf Nilson

 

Notes:

The essay by Jon Bollmann makes reference to Robert Frank’s The Americans (1956); we are also reminded of Rene Burri’s Die Deutschen (1962+); both of these forerunners are Swiss. And way before that, the German photographer August Sander’s approach to the portraiture of a nation’s people is also well known. While it does not seem possible to capture all the characteristics of a people in a single project, there are always particular reference points and points of view. (Frank and Sander were reviewed here previously: Robert Frank; August Sander.)

Christian Nilson’s viewpoint is different. As a Swede who has lived in Switzerland for over a decade, he shows what the country means to him, in color and in a modern style. There are touches of street photography (somewhat reminiscent of the in-your-face type of work by people like Bruce Gilden). Nilson also often uses flash, even in sunlight, to illuminate every corner of those shots. This gives the images a bright and cheerful appearance. He also has a strong eye for detail, along with humorous juxtapositions and overviews. One detects a sense of respect and wonder, which rubs off on the viewer, and allows an appreciation of his work as fine art photography as well. Nilson displays many of the expected clichés: mountains, traditional folk costumes and local customs, and others that we expect to see when we think of Switzerland. And for good measure, the designer has added a simulated cheese cover with actual holes, and cheese wrapping paper for the special edition! At the same time we see modern everyday life that is not any different than that in other countries – people in their rooms, eating, shopping, and similar daily activities.

The layout of this volume is also varied and keeps us alert. We find a variety of small and large placements of the images, at various aspect ratios, all the way to totally flush double page spreads. The result is that the viewer can puzzle over many of the pictures, trying to figure out the location and meaning of the activity in which the subjects are engaged, as well as their juxtapositions. There is no particular social criticism or political agenda that the author seems to have in mind. The idea we get is that Switzerland is a mixture of old and new, like any other country. It is just that the particulars of the “old” are different (in this case, based on a history of many centuries), while the elements of contemporary life seem universally shared. Thus, for instance, we find adults playing Batman or Superman for their children or for each other’s cosplay amusements, and the vendor of apricots, “Apricot-Andi,” uses techniques of modern marketing, such as his selfie, at his stand, while the stout townsfolk are seen in their expected traditional rural appearance, engaged in the life of country folk. And all of this coexists quite normally, to constitute the contemporary Swiss mix of country and city life, of historical customs and everyday mundane continuity in a modern society.

A thoroughly enjoyable volume!

Gerhard Clausing

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April 20, 2017

Ellen Korth – CHARKOW

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Photographer: Ellen Korth, (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Publisher: Self-published, Deventer (Netherlands), copyright 2016

Interviews by: Ellen Korth, Sybren Kuiper

Text: Netherlands, English & German

Seven (7) Stiff-cover books in slip-case, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed by Fine Books Weesp (Jos Morree) in Netherlands

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Photobook designer: Sybren Kuiper ( -SYB- )

Lithographer: Colour & Books (Sebastiaan Hanekroot)

Notes: Ellen Korth’s CHARKOW photobook is a very layered and complex set of photobooks, both physically and in her narrative, in part similar to and driven by her mysterious and complex past. Essentially this is an investigation of the question of what constitutes “home”?

It is a collection of short visual stories that delves into the subject for each person or couple as to what is “home” (where their heart is) for them? Perhaps for Korth in attempting to understand how others sense “home”, it might be a therapeutic process for her to deal her own feelings of belonging. It appears to me that this photobook also investigate a related and equally beguiling question; how deep must one’s roots be to feel “grounded”?

Each of the thin books create a fascinating visual metaphor; as each successive full-bleed photograph becomes smaller, the outer framing of the previous photographs can be read as a background border to create a complex, layered environmental context for the developing narrative. The unbalanced trim of each page spread adds to the visual layering effect. Once at the center of each book, it is difficult to read the photographic spread, the only image with a small white margin, without noticing the Kaleidoscopic background framing that reminds the reader about how complex a person’s story might be. A wonderful analogy to the layering of skins surrounding an onion and the effort to peel each layer to get closer to the central heart. The reader imagines that that they are slowly delving deeper into the layers of her subject’s life to get at the core of who they might be as it relates to being “home”. Both visual tantalizing and emotionally elusive.

For Korth, her personal story is cloaked in dark secrets and a sense of loss as to her family history. This may be in part as a result of her mother’s need for secrecy since fleeing from Charkow (Kharkov) during the absolute terror and chaos of the German invasion during WWII. Korth is dealing with the issues of an incomplete and hidden past and perhaps the unanswerable questions of how to resolve those feelings.

Highly Recommended! (my basis: I was one of the jurist for the International Photo Book Competition sponsored by Photo Independent and I was absolutely blown away by this brilliant photobook and immediately knew that I had to provide this to the readers of The PhotoBook. Oh, it also won the photobook competition as well)

Cheers!

Douglas Stockdale

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April 17, 2017

Shane Lavalette – One Sun, One Shadow

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Photographer: Shane Lavalette (b. Burlington, VT – resides Syracuse, NY)

Publisher: Lavalette, Syracuse (NY), copyright 2016

Essay: Tim Davis

Text: English

Clothbound hardcover book, embossed with tipped in image, sewn binding, four-color lithography, printed in Lithuania

Photobook designer: Lavalette

Notes: Shane Lavalette’s photobook is resulting from an earlier commission by the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA) for a exhibition series that they were working on in 2012 “Picturing the South”. Probably similar to Lavalette, I have visited the “South” on only a few occasions and realize that I have mind images of what constitutes this region of America. Perhaps other than one image of an alligator lurking in a pool of green mossy waters and another of fireflies, Lavalette avoided what I had imagined as topological stereotypes and created instead a poetic interpretation of what he experienced.

Lavalette states that he went looking for the music of the South, perhaps for some that might be a connotation for the Delta Blues, Smokey Mountain bluegrass or perhaps some kick-ass Georgia County Line country-rock. Regretfully for me I did not find this musical element in his photographs, but there are quiet, pensive moments that could lend to being lyrical, just not for in a musical sense.

Do I think that I know what it means to live in the South from this body of work? Perhaps not, as there are ambiguous landscapes and portraits that appear that these could have been found anywhere in the United States. Does it bust my stereotype image bank that I have about what is the South?  Most certainly and to further understand that the “South” is really not much different than many parts elsewhere in America. Perhaps this could be the source of the book’s title; One Sun, One Shadow; we are really the same regardless of where we are as we share this underlying sameness.

Cheers,

Douglas Stockdale

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April 12, 2017

Frances F. Denny – Let Virtue Be Your Guide

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 4:03 am

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Photographer:  Frances F. Denny (born San Francisco, CA; resides Brooklyn, NY)

Publisher:  Radius Books, Santa Fe, NM, © 2015

Essay:  Lisa Locascio

Text:  English

Cloth-bound sewn hardcover, protective transparent acetate dust cover; 108 pages, color lithography; 36 9×9 inch images, a composite sepia leporello fold-out, and the reproduction of a sampler; 10×10.5 inches,  printed in Italy

Photobook Designer:  David Chickey

 

Notes:

All of us have been recipients of the expectations and prescriptions of the generations that came before us. Occasionally these conventions and social mores have kept us under what we might have considered unwarranted constraints, or might have caused us traumatic conflicts that had to be resisted and/or resolved as our own development in life proceeded. I wanted to review this book because I consider it an important contribution to intergenerational understanding and individual development.

In this volume Frances F. Denny examines the impact of previous generations on her as well as other women in New England today. Her images present women of her family spanning several generations, along with their accoutrements and surroundings. They are also quoted as they evaluate traditions and admonitions that have been passed down to them, both in New England and from Europe. The photographs are all in color and seem to present a world that is cheerful and in order, with occasional signs of unrest or disturbances showing through the veneer. Most of the images are accompanied by historical material as well as by short personal quotes and anecdotes from the women’s lives. Some of these expectations have always been explicit, others implicit. Examples are: “In my family the default was decorum, but with kindness” (p. 27), or: “A lot was unsaid. I think more up-front talking would have been helpful” (p. 37), or: “Don’t talk about yourself too much.” (p. 53) Among the problems that are dealt with: the suppression of emotions; the pros and cons of entitlement; alcoholism; taking advantage of those below you in the social hierarchy and the guilt associated with that; the problem of exhibiting slight imperfections; and many others.

It is interesting to observe the portraits of the women of several generations against the background of the many struggles necessary on the road to self-actualization and assertiveness. Denny makes a special effort to contrast two generations in some of the images as well as in the pairing of images. The pictures are captioned, and care is taken to display some of the women without showing their faces, so that it is possible to project oneself into the character and her moment and to imagine one’s situation to be similar. Page 85 presents a leporello-type fold-out that shows three pictures from a wedding in the early 1940s, including two of the bride: a perfectly organized tableau, behind which conflicted feelings regarding past and future might also be lurking. The “primer” by Lisa Locascio takes us from definitions of virtue as compulsory moral excellence to the stage of self-discovery and personal redefinition, as the process of one’s individuation proceeds. The book ends with the picture of an old needlepoint “sampler” as a reminder of this former test of marriage-worthiness that also displays all the “right” expectations and prescriptions from long ago.

An important work with much food for thought and a very attractive design as well!

Gerhard Clausing

 

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