The PhotoBook

March 30, 2011

Camille Hervouet – Geographie Intime

Copyright Camille Hervouet 2010 courtesy Poursuite Editions

What does happen when you go home again? There are usually the lingering memories of youth, but how do these memories mesh with the realities of the present day? In Geographie Intime (English translation: Intimate Geography), Camille Hervouet, who now lives in Nantes, returns to explore and investigate the geography of Vendee, the area in which she was a child and young adult. Hervouet states that in working on this photographic project, she had “the urge to explore deeper into the idea of home, of living in a territory”.

To chose for her subject a personal region, that of her childhood, can be either fraught with emotional danger or perhaps bring immense personal pleasure. A place that has strong emotional ties will no doubt, perhaps at a very subliminal level, lead to a stronger autobiographical narrative. It can be argued that all photographs are really about the photographer, with the sleight of hand illusion that what is in front of the lens might be the subject. Thus it can be said that all photographs are autobiographical, but some are more autobiographical than others.

Hervouet continues in her introduction to state her intent “to capture the way the landscape and the building talk about those who inhabit them, to see how they revel the structure, working pattern, the development as well as the contradictions of the territory…its intimate and collective history.” I find that Hervoutet elegantly lays out her conceptual foundation for this photography project and equally important, then delivers on it.

The photographs are without captions, but from her introduction, I suspect that the portraits of individuals are those who she knows personally, probably family, neighbors and friends. She has a shared history and memory with them.

Her landscape and portrait photographs appear to start in the hills and upper elevations of Vendee and as her photobook progress, we steady approach a seacoast. The final photograph in this series, which is spanning a two page spread and printed full bleed, provides a great expansive body of troubled water. Is this dark and turbulent seacoast symbolic of her emotional condition after this exploration? Has the emotional ride of this project left in troubled turmoil, much as the troubled, overcast and dark sea? The dark sea, much like memory, can be cold, dark and deep, hiding rocks and fissures, concealing wonders and dangers alike.

But yet there is one last small color photograph hiding behind the final Remerciements, much like providing a last kiss after taking a brief pause at the end of a long conversation, a beautiful evening seascape. It could be easily missed, but lingers after the conclusion and for me implies that there is still is hope, perhaps a hope that Hervouet still has, even if troubling memories come tumbling down upon her

The book is printed in four-color, with stiff covers and stitched binding. The text is in French, and with my copy, I received an English translation insert.

By Douglas Stockdale

March 23, 2011

Valeria Cherchi – 3centro34

Copyright 2010 Valeria Cherchi courtesy AAlphabet Libri

Valeria Cherchi is providing a short and relatively dark narrative about a house that is inhabited by two individuals who do not appear to be connecting with each other.  Her two subjects for this photobook are a young man and a young woman and the building tension between the two of them.

The man is photographed alone, either sitting or standing with a vacant expression and in one photograph has his bowed down. The woman in turn is also photographed alone, alternating between an upwards glace or with her bowed.  Both individuals appear to be waiting, in contemplation as though anticipating for the other’s initiating advance. The woman appears in a dreamlike state, as though embracing and in a dance with her lover, with someone who is not there. The bed is entirely hers, whether by default or plan, nevertheless, creating a sense of loneliness and sadness. 

The last photograph of the book spans the two page spread and is printed full bleed. The man continues to stands alone, now in a three-quarter profile, shrouded in the semi-darkness, his profile lost the in deep shadows. It is a stark, graphic, haunting, and eerie photograph. There is an illuminating window pane just behind him and it appears to be part of a door.  This dark image of the shirtless man creates an ominous and foreboding feeling of an implied threat to who may be just beyond the other side of this door. What I might call an Alfred Hitchcock moment.

Cherchi’s black and white photographs are stark, tightly framed and border on being minimalistic. With a minimum of content, it can allow the reader more freedom to fill in the unanswered spaces. The minimal clothing of both individuals implies the appearance of vulnerability and accessibility that perhaps they have nothing to hide between themselves. Yet they do not appear together in any of the photographs and at best, are in separate photographs on facing pages, with the implied dialog crossing the binding of the book, as though the binding is a silent and imaginary barrier between the two.

Situated between the photographs are graphic symbols, the meaning of which is codified and ambiguous to the reader. The layout of the photographs mixed with the graphic elements is a bit confusing. After a number of readings, I am still not sure if the graphic elements and symbols are helping or distracting this narrative. These graphic elements are printed a very solid and dense black relative to the photographs and they seem to act as anchors that pull the focus away from the photographs. The graphics create a sense of tension that somehow then resonates in the photographs.

I found Cherchi’s cinematic narrative to be fragmented, erratic and difficult to follow, but with a captivating ending. Nevertheless, Cherchi and her publisher should be lauded for investigating an experimental layout with the inclusion of different graphic elements (alternatives to text) to structure a different photobook concept.

This photobook is printed in one color with the text in Italian, but my copy came with an insert that contained both the original Italian and an English Translation. I am not very sure (as my Italian is very limited), but appears that the English translation is a bit on the rough side.

by Douglas Stockdale

March 6, 2011

Fantom magazine – Issue 06 Winter 2011

Filed under: Book Publications, Photo Book NEWS — Doug Stockdale @ 5:47 am

Copyright the various artist courtesy Boiler Corportation

From Milano, Italy, via the Boiler corporation, aka Fantom Editions, comes a very smart photography magazine. It has the heft and feel of a stiff cover photobook and beautiful printed in Italy (Frafiche Antiga). What I had not realized is that Fantom Editions was also publishing photobooks, one of which, Charolette Dumas’s Al Lavoro!  which I expect to review later this year.

Unlike a photobook, this like other magazines of its kind, provide either a board retrospective sampling of a photographers work, such as the Joel Meyerowitz interview by Giorgio Barrera, an interview with a photographer regarding a recent project, such as the Marc Feustel interview (conversation) with Hans-Christian Schink or perhaps a portfolio sampling, as in this case, the portfolios of Jessica Labatte, Ra di Martino and Irina Polin.

The magazine has an interesting cadence, moving from portfolio to discussion while photographs form another portfolio (Pop-Up) suddenly appear. The photographic work that is brought into the pages has a very broad breath and aesthetic feel, with a myriad of conceptual challenges for the reader. nice.

There is a minimum of advertising, which in this case is all relegated to the back of the magazine, resulting in some very dense content. The magazine is published entirely in English and I hope that you can find in on a news stand (art photography magazine rack) near you.

By Douglas Stockdale

March 5, 2011

Kin Subscription Series Number Two – Hido – Mueller – Soth – Nolan

Copyright Todd Hido, Marianne MuellerAlec Soth, Abner Nolan 2008 (2009) courtesy TBW Books and photo-eye

TBW Books is providing selected photographers with a unifying theme for an annual publication of four books co-published as a set. For the Subscription Series #2, the four photographic artists, Marianne Mueller, Noon, Todd Hido, Ohio, Alec Soth, Sheep, and Abner Nolan, Away, were invited to present a personal exploration of their work. Each photographer was provided with complete design control of the resulting book, with the only stipulation that their photobook follows the overarching book size, printing and binding format of the series.

Abner Nolan utilizes found photographs to construct his narrative, which for Away, is the remnants of a memory that might affectionately be call a road trip. For Nolan, the road trip is disjointed; a mash-up of fleeting experiences and encompasses fuzzy, fading and inconsistent content. The lead-in photograph of a convertible car with the top down hints at unlimited potential opportunities for the ensuring journey, but the faded and poor condition of this photograph has darker undertones. The subsequent photographs narrate the ups and down realities of such road trips. The narrative is ambiguous without a defined starting or ending point, which provides many opportunities to make this our own journey. Nolan’s narrative tugs at my own memory and triggers recollection of my parent’s road trips with my younger brother and sister, and similar to his faded photographs, likewise my memories are becoming more indistinct with time. The family road trip was a seemingly endless journey to visit some majestic destination while intermittently stopping at the homes of relatives or family friends. My recall of visiting my older relatives is as vague as Nolan’s photographs, an indistinct face, a faint recall of a room, or snippet of an experience. I sense that for Nolan, his memory of road trips are now increasing melancholic experiences.

In his photobook Ohio, Todd Hido investigates his experience growing up in the Midwest and coming of age. His narrative is intertwined with his early photographs and recent photographs made with the same camera. Although the book has a documentary look, we have been provided clues that the photographed events are not what they appear to be. Much like the masks we don and façades we erect to conceal our inner most feelings in order to protect ourselves. On the surface Hido’s photographs appear to document an ordinary household, but there are present dark edges and an uneasy undercurrent. The older photographs are mottled and deteriorated. In one photograph a wall is plainly visible to have been damaged by blunt force trauma, and in another, a man holds up a boy in one hand and a mini-keg of beer in the other, while the boy reaches towards the mini-keg, not the man. The narrative later evolves into the passing of adolescence into sexual awareness in the opposite sex, from a state of guarded anticipation to finally confident and unabashed liberation.


For Marianne Mueller, her photobook Noon is a narrative that could also be titled “Nooner”, another word aptly designating a mid-day romance. Her photographs sequential narrate the ensuring emotions of a sexually charged romantic fling. The rumpled clothes on a floor, although abstract, imply a wild abandon, with people wearing progressively less clothes until everything goes dark, but illuminated by the sparks of intense emotion. Although I find the photographs to be very metaphoric, they are not entice an overly romantic feeling, but elicits coldness and distance, with her photobook perhaps saved by the mysterious undertones and unanswered questions.

In his book Sheep, Alec Soth is only photographer of the four to introduce text with his narrative, which I find to be a humorous running essay that accompanies each progressive photograph in this delightful story. The constructed storyline is about serial experiences, how one event can be tangentially related to another and that due to circumstances many times beyond our control, we can find ourselves in a full circle haunted by out past experiences. Soth’s photographs are created as well as culled from previous projects, such as Sleeping by the Mississippi, to create this amusing and personal narrative. Although Soth’s photobook has the lighter narrative of the four, it is by no means the lesser of the four and equally profound and rich in context.

The four photobooks have stiff cover with dust wraps, which have a nice repetitious repeat of the book’s title, but due to the glued and stapled binding, these books are very difficult to open and read.

Although the books have printed a 2008 copyright, the publisher has stated that the copyright was meant to state 2009.

by Douglas Stockdale

February 28, 2011

Laurent Chardon – Tangente

Copyright Laurent Chardon 2010 Courtesy Les éditions Poursuite

Laurent Chardon stated that as young man he was fascinated by the photographs of Mongolia and in the winter of 2002, he had an opportunity to investigate the memories of his youth, as well as the current culture. It may not have been the experience that he had anticipated.

Like many of those who travel and immerse themselves into a foreign culture, he was a stranger in a strange land, and further disoriented by the current conditions he found. He quickly altered his photographic frame of reference, employing tools that might provide him with photographs that were more in line with his observations and experience.

His black and white photographs are grainy and have a high amount of contrast, which combine to create a darker narrative. The details within the photographs are not sharply delineated, abstracting both the individuals and the landscape. Who the people of this region are remain elusive to the reader, as they are usually rendered as black featureless silhouettes. They do not appear as people, but abstract symbols that inhabit a barren landscape.

Without providing a sense of their individuality, Chardon indicates the presence of people, but not as individuals, but more as temporary and elusive inhabitants. People are usually visible with their heads bowed down, whether as a result of the weather, to ensure their footing on an icy and tricky terrain or representative of their mood in general.

The dark corner frame vignettes create a claustrophobic feeling that the landscape, perhaps similar to the picture frame, is collapsing and closing in.  I have a sense of restriction and that space is limited. Something dark and menacing is lurking in this place. I do not perceive feelings of joy or an uplifted spirit, but of a gloomy melancholy that is foreboding and sobering.

A high-rise structure seems lonely and repressive and not a place that you would find in a travel brochure. Perhaps this feeling is due to the overcast skies of the winter season and the gray and dirty snow, nevertheless, it seems to be a place without trees, bushes and other vegetation. The structures appear cold, both in environmental conditions and in spirit. In another similar photograph, small individual structures are situated in the foreground at the base of a rising multi unit building, probably creating a future vision for those living independently. This is not inviting location, but a place only suited for survival.

One urban landscape photograph documents a mash-up of tents and permanent structures, with the inter-structural spaces between them now being occupied by thin fences. These fences are borders and boundaries, which I find to be odd for a nomadic people who had previously experienced unlimited space as they had previously moved freely about.

The concluding photograph is a sea of thin trees, with a backlit sun casting long radiating shadows. The trees appear very lonely in the otherwise desolate snow-covered terrain. I sense that this stand of trees represents the thin and dwindling spirits of the once nomadic individuals who now endure living in this region.

The text for the essays is printed in French, with an English translation insert available on request when purchasing the book

by Douglas Stockdale

February 25, 2011

Le Bal – Editions Poursuite

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 1:05 pm

Benjamin Diguerher copyright 2011 Douglas Stockdale

Yesterday evening was the Editions Poursuite book signing event at Le Bal (Paris), part of a weekly book signing event that Sebastian Arthur Hau, Director of Le Bal Books, is hosting at his bookshop and exhibition gallery. It was a nice occasion and I had the opportunity to meet two of the featured photographers, Laurent Chardon (Tangente) and Gregory Valton (Dans la Neige and Le pic entre Deux Ports), as well as Camille Hervouet, whose book Geographie Intime was previously published by Editions Poursuite. I think that Benjamin Diguerher, the co-publisher of Editions Poursuite, was very happy with the occasion, as he had a wonderful smile for the entire evening. BTW, when Benjamin and I met last month in Paris, he was not thrilled with the idea of a portrait to accompany my post, but later I came up with an idea that he might like, which he now readily agreed, above.

I also had a chance to spend some time with friends Laurence Vecten and Remi Coigent, as well as walk the exhibitions. I was really impressed with the wonderful body of early photographs of Emmet Gowin, which I have not see in exhibition for a considerable amount of time. It was similar to a reunion with old friends. As I do not have an original Emmet Gowin Photographs, I was more than happy to purchase the 2009 edition by Steidl and I can attest that the photographs in the book are a very close match to the prints.

February 23, 2011

Teller – A magazine of stories

Filed under: Photo Book NEWS — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:32 am

Copyright Teller 2010 courtesy of Trolley Ltd

I have the nice opportunity to review Issue #1 of the new magazine out of Great Britain published by Trolley Books, the editorial brainstorm of Katherine Hunt and Ruby Russel. This stiffcover magazine is a wonderful read. From the publisher is this overview: Teller, a magazine of stories. Stories told in pictures, in words, in both; short sharp stories, “so I once heard this story” stories, stories of pure invention and stories that might just be true.

In this first issue are the photographs of Flavie Guerrand culled from hundreds of all-nighters in Paris and Berlin, Charles Trotter, based in Nairobi in the 1950’s narrating the decadence of colonial rule in its dying days, and Nina Mangalanayagam using a documentary style to describe the gathering of her Tamil family in Europe. And of course, there are the wonderful stories.

The editors of Teller probably sum it up best: It’s a miscellany, a platter for your enjoyment. Like an old sea dog accosting you at a wedding, fugitives from the plague passing time around the campfire, or just the rambling oracle propping up the bar.

Yes, a wonderful mashup of short stories and photographic stories. recommended.

by Doug Stockdale

February 16, 2011

Andrej Krementschouk – No Direction Home

Copyright  Andrej Krementschouk 2009 courtesy Kehrer Verlag

In the Thomas Wolfe book, aptly titled You Can’t Go Home Again, in which the title comes from the finale of the novel when protagonist George Webber realizes, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” 

As explained in Wikipedia (becoming one of my favorite sources for meaningless trivia as you might deduce from previous reviews), “You can’t go home again” has entered American speech to mean that after you have left your country town or provincial backwater city for a sophisticated metropolis, you can’t return to the narrow confines of your previous way of life, and, more generally, attempts to relive youthful memories will always fail.

Andrej Krementschouk was born in Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod), Russia has since moved to Germany and is now residing in Leipzig, but has been returning to his homeland Russia to investigate what remains. What he has found is illustrated in his 2009 book No Direction Home.

The rural countryside of Russia is not similar to the conditions that are found in the rural countryside of Germany, where there is air-conditioned farm tractors in Germany, while in Russia it is the natural air providing any relief to the process of farming. It is the contradiction in Krementschouk’s German reality that clashes with his memories of his Russian home that appears to provide the fuel for his discovery and attempt in understanding the contrasts. He straddles the two geographic and cultural locations, with a foot now firmly entrenched in both regions. He has the sophisticated and trained eye of a German photographer, but the soul and cultural heritage of a Russian artist. It seems that Kremenshouk is almost helpless in his the desire to be drawn back time and time again to his homeland; looking, seeing and investigating.

In the case of Krementschouk, returning home is also realizing that the reality of his youth is far different from what he perceived at the time, that he now experiences events and situations in a much different frame of reference and perhaps realizes the dire economic and social situations more acutely.

A personal journey by a man who is returning to his homeland after an absence and now experiences it with new eyes. The many things that might have been taken for granted are now questioned and examined, open to new investigation. The landscape, the villages, the culture, the society and family are not as familiar, they now seem different, probably much as KrementschoukKrementschouk now appears different to those friends, families, acquaintances and even the strangers of these villages, he acts different, seems different, perhaps even sounds different, and has become a stranger in strange land.

Some of us may not have ventured far from home and may have some difficulty comprehending Krementschouk’s perceptual shift. Personally, my family relocated back and forth across the United States while I was a youth, and at the time, I did not fully realize the cultural and social disorientation that were occurring. Today I understand it a little better now, such that this photobook resonates in a strange way with me, but looking back, as at the time I was taking it all for granted. I erroneously thought, this is just normally what families do. By the way, I think moving from the Western Pennsylvania to the Southwest of Phoenix and Yuma Arizona, and then back to the Midwest of SouthEastern edge of Michigan is a fairly decent cultural shift even within America, encompassing some 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers). I have not really provided this cultural shifts much voice, but I now realize that it has altered the way I perceive things, many times in a different way than others who have not had similar experiences.

Krementschouk utilizes very saturated color in his documentary style photographs and the resulting images are usually crisp and clear. The excellent printing of this book really works to Krementschouk’s advantage. What I have found to be especially intriguing is the paring of photographs across the spread of this photobook.

In one of the early paring, first below, there is an older woman appearing to be asleep or resting comfortably on a single bed, the background wall is bare and the pillow, bedstead and her clothing appear simple and uncomplicated. On the facing page is a photograph of a sunlight window and a television on which appears to be two younger men in the military. This facing page is in color, while the television screen is in a surreal black and white, representing a dream like state for the older woman, that this is her dreams and fantasies of the young men in her past life.

In the second pared photographs below, on one side is an older woman who stands outside a log cabin building, but concealing her face and more importantly, her eyes. On the facing page is another dream like surreal photograph, this time a layer of grim or other layer of debris, a larger building is faintly seen, with a bright region in the upper quadrant. The two facing photographs create an interesting dialog and speculative narrative surrounding this older woman and this mysterious dream like state.

Then the next pair of photographs below are another strange narrative, the nature and condition of the reclining and potentially sleeping man is in similar disrepair and condition as the ratty and dirty snowman. Krementschouk appears to be asking us, how are these two similar or are they really that different? More questions and less obvious any answers.

In the following pair of photographs, we can observe what appears to be in one photograph, a broken home, literally with the roof caving in. This damaged house borders a primitive dirt road, with two ruts that were probably worn down by a horse-drawn wagon, and the ominous sky lurking overhead. It has a sense of mystery as well foreboding, a dying house perhaps in a dying rural village. The facing photograph is four men who have religious symbols, as though there to watch over and give last rites to this house and maybe the village itself. One man steadfastly holds the lantern, but is slightly bowed and has turned his head and eyes down, perhaps has difficulty with the emotional weight of what he is observing on the facing page. Another younger man stands upright, but is not looking upwards, yet grasping his throat, perhaps feeling a choking feeling. The man holding the orthodox cross barely has his eyes open, more closed than open, as the sight of what he is looking at is too difficult to comprehend. Finally the fourth man is holding a decorated staff, but he too is looking up and away from the scene on the opposing page, perhaps too difficult to look at directly.

I really enjoy the way the facing photographs play off each other, although at times I am not always sure of the narrative, as though I am not privy to a secret language. I am guessing that to be the case, that there is an odd mix of the German and Russian cultures relating to the ancient stories that have been handed down in this surreal smash-up, in the complex set of experiences that Krementschouk is attempting to sort out, both for himself and the viewer.

The text in this hardcover book is provided in English, German and Russian

by Douglas Stockdale

February 15, 2011

Vicki Topaz – Silent Nests

Coyright Vicki Topaz 2009 courtesy Kehrer Verlag

In his foreword to William Wylie’s photobook Route 36, the poet and essayist Merrill Gilfillan states, “It seems continually necessary to reassert that landscape study and its reflective arts are anything but passive disciplines, that civilization in a sustaining, daily sense emerges most surely from good relations with one’s surroundings (the perfect word) and the inner landscape of possibility held in the head and heart.” This is aptly applicable to the photographs of Vicki Topaz of her rural French landscape photographs that encompass her photobook Silent Nests.

Topaz is investigating the old dovecote dwellings, also called colombier or pigeonries, of Northern France, specifically in the regions of Normandy and Brittany. She experiences the presence of these decaying structures from the perspective of an American, without a French heritage, thus she is not emotionally tied to the fading memory of these symbolic French structure. Her outsider’s perspective enables her to place these structures into a different cultural context, to observe the structures as they exist today and attempt to create a dialog with their past.

The colombier structures are relics of a past grandiose period, symbolizing power, prestige, status, wealth, privilege and essentially the French aristocracy. In France, the size of the building, number of nests (boulins, literally pigeon holes) and even their presence was regulated by law, known as the droit de colombier. For the aristocracy, these were important economic resources during medieval and later times as they provided sustainable supplies of meat, eggs, feathers, and manure. As such, the pigeons were also protected by law, and these same birds prayed on the commoner’s crops, threatening their livelihood, even their existence. Immediately after the French revolution, the colombeir structures, which were such a threat and so despised that they were subsequently destroyed in mass. Now the animosity for these structures has mellowed with time and as Topaz has found, can be seen in a calmer light.

Most of these buildings are no longer in active use, the spaces once reserved for the pigeons are empty and bare, many of which have been abandoned, crumbling under their own weight from disrepair and a lack of maintenance. Similar to other structures that are left to its demise, these are gradually disappearing from the landscape. They are fading memories of another time, which is bittersweet and in front of Topaz’s lens, now provide a sense of silent brooding, empty and elicit a sense of melancholy.

Topaz has elected to eliminate the direct presence of the people who reside near these forlorn structures, which may be due in part as to where these buildings reside, on grand estates or in fallow fields. Nevertheless, these intricately built structures reflect the hand of mankind in their intricate design and construction. As symbols of power and status, they were very carefully built with enduring materials, unlike the nearby villages and homes of the commoners. But even so, when left to the elements, they slowly deteriorate as nature gradually reclaims the stones and timber.

In the flat lighting, overcast skies and barren trees, these structures appear like silent soldiers on a melancholy watch, standing guard over ghostly memories.

Topaz’s black and white photographs are composed with a square format that is static and lends to a sense of formality, perhaps in keeping with their aristocratic past. The narrow focus that abstracts the foreground and blurs the background has a shared impressionistic quality with the photographic work of Keith Carter, Maruro Florese, and Susan Burnstein. Likewise, photographing French structural relics that are quickly fading from the present in a documentary style is reminiscent of Eugene Atget’s turn of the century Parisian photographic work. Only on a few occasions do Topaz’s photographs tip the scale towards sentimentality, such as the cliché of a colombier framed with blossoms from the branches of a tree in Spring bloom. On the other hand, she creates moody, introspective and poetic narratives, with slightly dark undertones that are both mysterious and delightful.

The book is printed and bound in a hardcover with dust jacket edition, and the accompanying text is provided in both English and French.

By Douglas Stockdale

February 12, 2011

Lucy Hilmer – My Valentines

Copyright Lucy Hilmer 2010 courtesy of the artist

Over a period of twenty one years, Lucy Hilmer in partnership with her husband, daughter and many long stem roses, created a series of black and white photographs. These photographs were subsequently printed as postcards and mailed to family and friends to celebrate Valentines Day, an American holiday of love and romance.

Each year, Hilmer created their annual photograph within a constant motif, daughter in white, her husband in black and of course the long stem rose. The photographs vary in composition in conjunction with the steady aging of both her daughter and husband. Hilmer’s daughter is the principal subject in each photograph, with the flower and her husband providing a foil and counterbalance. In most of the photographs, the young girl gazes directly at the lens, engaging the photographer and subsequently the viewer.

Each valentine’s card is endearing and when viewed in a series, it is wonderful to see the young child develop into adolescence and eventual adulthood. We can perceive the changes, from a young, playful girl who is being directed, to one who is now understanding what the photographic process may create to finally becoming a willing model and partner in the creation of the body of work. The body of work is a sweet visual narrative about change, evolution, memory and the steady passing of time.

The photobook leads into the twenty one valentines and then follows with the background story for each photograph, with the contact sheet for the shoot and the cropping of each photograph. It is enlightening to see the raw shoot the development of the final photograph, but in the case of this photobook, more space is spent on the proofs and the background story than on the project itself.

The book ends with a series of self portraits in conjunction with her family. The subtle narrative of the book is around the creativity and transparency of an artist. For photographers, this is also a story about being out of sight as most artists are, yet having a desire to be seen, known and not forgotten. By reinserting herself into the epilog of the book, Hilmer is attempting to not be forgotten.

In the play Hair, one of the main characters expresses late in the performance that he wants to become invisible, but yet at the end of the performance, when he is no longer perceived to exist amongst his friends, he finds that it is not the result he desired. Likewise, photographers and artist, in creating a body of work, become invisible to the work that they have created. We may become familiar with the images of a photographer, but if that photographer who created these photographs was to walk by us; we would not as much as blink. That just may not be what the photographer has intended to happen, to become invisible.

This self-published hardcover book is beautifully printed and bound in Vancouver, Canada. The photographs are also accompanied by poems written by Hilmer.

by Douglas Stockdale

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