To paraphrase the latest issue of Aperture Magazine (Issue 213), this installment of our Photography blog features some books (and magazines) that will show you, “photography as you don’t know it”.
The current issue features a cover and article about New Zealand artist Len Lye’s Shadowgraphs, subject of one of our earlier posts, an early adopter of alternative photographic techniques, a long time before the birth of digital photography.
The technological developments of the last two decades mean that photography as a medium has evolved in many incredible and fascinating directions that were not possible before. Photography as a way to document reality is everyday challenged further, making amazing tools available to all, allowing anyone with the inclination (and some time) to create a world of make belief. Fiction and reality become more blurred as digital imagery becomes ever present in our daily lives.
However, we still marvel at the power of “documentary” photography to show us the world at its most natural and majestic, as Sebastiao Salgado has again demonstrated in his latest publication, or at its most simple and authentic, as these early and unusually black & white photographs of Martin Parr powerfully illustrate.
Let’s just remember to differentiate the medium from its subject matter and we shall be prepared to embrace all the forms photography can take.
Surreal Photography – Creating the impossible
“Master the art of imaginative photo-manipulation. Ever since Man Ray imposed the sound holes of a violin onto his models back, photographers have been enthusiastic practitioners of surreal art. With the advent of high-quality digital photo-manipulation the possibilities for creativity have become infinite. This book reveals the latest developments in the field and demystifies the techniques used by modern surreal photographers, whether they favour straight-out-of-the-camera surrealism or sophisticated digital manipulations. Breaking down the shooting and editing process so any reader can follow, this book provides step-by-step instructions for creating extraordinary scenes. With contributions from numerous artists, including Natalie Dybisz, Jon Jacobsen and Patrick Desmet, readers will be able to explore many different styles, from impossible landscapes to unsettling portraits.” (Syndetics)
50 portraits : stories and techniques from a photographer’s photographerGregory Heisler: : 50 portraits : stories and techniques from a photographer’s photographer
“In this first-ever showcase of his work, Gregory Heisler, one of professional photography’s most respected practitioners, shares 50 iconic portraits of celebrities, athletes, and world leaders, along with fascinating, thoughtful, often humorous stories about how the images were made. From his famously controversial portrait of President George H.W. Bush (which led to the revocation of Heisler’s White House clearance) to his evocative post-9/11 Time magazine cover of Rudolph Giuliani, to stunning portraits of Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Hillary Clinton, Michael Phelps, Muhammad Ali, and many more, Heisler reveals the creative and technical processes that led to each frame. For Heisler’s fans and all lovers of photography, Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits offers not only a gorgeous collection of both black-and-white and color portraits, but an engrossing look at the rarely seen art of a master photographer at work”. (Syndetics)
Sebastiao Salgado – Genesis
“Epic journeys to the ends of the earth: Salgado’s opus on our planet in its natural state. On a very fortuitous day in 1970, 26-year-old Sebastiao Salgado held a camera for the first time. When he looked through the viewfinder, he had an epiphany: suddenly life made sense. From that day onward – though it took years of hard work before he had the experience to earn his living as a photographer – the camera became his tool for interacting with the world. Salgado, who “always preferred the chiaroscuro palette of black-and-white images,” shot very little color in his early career before giving it up completely. Having been raised on a rural farm in Brazil, far from civilization and without television, Salgado possessed a deep love and respect for nature; he was also particularly sensitive to the ways in which human beings are affected by their often devastating socio-economic conditions. “Genesis” is the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society – the land and life of a still-pristine planet.” (From amazon.co.uk)
“The Non-Conformists features Martin Parr’s first major body of work from the mid-1970s, published here for the first time in book form. A wonderful and charming surprise for Parr enthusiasts and fans of traditional reportage, this body of black-and-white imagery predates the cutting colour work that earned him his fame in the 1980s. In 1975, fresh out of art school, Martin Parr found poor footing in the London photography scene, so he moved to the picturesque Yorkshire Pennine mill town of Hebden Bridge. Over a period of five years, he documented the town in photographs, showing in particular the aspects of traditional life that were beginning to decline. Susie Parr, whom he had met in Manchester, joined him in documenting a year in the life of a small Methodist chapel, together with its farming community. In words and pictures, the Parrs vividly and affectionately document cobbled streets, flat-capped mill workers, hardy gamekeepers, henpecked husbands, and jovial shop owners.” (Syndetics)
Alexander McQueen: Working Process
“In 2008 Alexander McQueen commissioned photographer Nick Waplington to document the creation of his Fall 2009 collection–all the way from inception to runway showing. Unfortunately, it was to be the last Fall/Winter collection that McQueen would stage before his untimely death. This show, which he titled The Horn of Plenty, found McQueen revisiting his 15-year archive of work and recycling it into a new collection. Every step of the creative process is documented in fascinating detail and readers receive a rare insight into the inner workings of McQueen’s creative process. This substantial overview, with more than 120 photographs, is published just as McQueen edited it, commemorating the most personal of his collections.” (Adapted from amazon.co.uk)
Vanity fair, 100 years : from the jazz age to our age
“Vanity Fair 100 Years showcases a century of personality and power, art and commerce, crisis and culture–both highbrow and low. From its inception in 1913, through the Jazz Age and the Depression, to its reincarnation in the boom-boom Reagan years, to the image-saturated Information Age, Vanity Fair has presented the modern era as it has unfolded, using wit, imagination, peerless literary narrative, and bold, groundbreaking imagery from the greatest photographers, artists, and illustrators of the day. This sumptuous book takes a decade-by-decade look at the world as seen by the magazine, stopping to describe the incomparable editor Frank Crowninshield and the birth of the Jazz Age Vanity Fair, the magazine’s controversial rebirth in 1983, and the history of the glamorous Vanity Fair Oscar Party.” (Books In Print)
Caught in the act : actors acting / director & photographer, Howard Schatz ; editor & producer, Beverly J. Ornstein ; writer, Owen Edwards.
“Actors fascinate us in part because they live out the truths we cannot, or do not, want to live out ourselves. In his latest book, acclaimed photographer Howard Schatz develops upon his well-received monthly feature for Vanity Fair, In Character. Schatz’ mastery of his craft is demonstrated as he himself acts, taking on the role of a director and giving his subjects detailed situations to explore, which are listed with the resulting image. The actors featured here-including John Malkovich, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Douglas, Colin Firth, Laurence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael C. Hall, Hugh Laurie, Amy Poehler, and Geoffrey Rush, among other illustrious greats-demonstrate their skill for improvisation while Schatz captures the complexity of their emotional and physical range. This inventive collection is a richly entertaining revelation of the fantasy of transformation. Schatz does not simply create characters from these actors-he helps to reveal their humanity.” (Syndetics)
When in Paris in July 2013, I came across an outdoor exhibition on the railings of the Luxembourg garden. A series of 80 large scale photos recounted the history of the Tour de France, to celebrate its 100th edition, paying homage to the riders, but also to the spectators and the landscapes, the other crucial protagonists of the event.
I couldn’t help but take this shot of a cyclist enjoying the exhibition as I passed.
Tour de France 100 – A Photographic History of the World’s Greatest Race
“First staged in 1903, the Tour de France lasts three weeks every July and takes its c.200 competitors through over 3600km of varied terrain, including testing mountain stages. The race is broken into one-day ‘stages’, with the overall leader wearing the fabled yellow jersey.
Tour de France 100 celebrates 110 years of the Tour and publishes in the run up to the 100th race. It captures key visual moments in its history, including heroes of the race, great rivalries, moments of high drama, accidents and scandals, all accompanied by Richard Moore’s authoritative text that illuminates and expands upon the superb imagery.” (From amazon.co.uk)