Eric Meola contacted me yesterday to say he'd seen our Photo Book of the Year nominations and to alert me to his own latest book, India: In Word and Image. I haven't seen it—I'm guessing because my bookstore has it hidden in the "Travel" section or something like that. So I went to his website to check out some of the India pictures.
When I replied to him I added a P.S. as a spontaneous afterthought: "You must be a happy guy—you seem to have developed a strong style and you seem to really love it. There's nothing better than that." Later I fretted that that might have come across as condescending (he didn't take it that way), but I meant it 100% sincerely: you can see it in the pictures, and then there it is, writ bold in 28 words: "Most photographs are in color, but color has, for me, become its own subject, so that my images are simply abstract studies of the interplay of color itself." Just what the pictures project.
Finding your own distinctive concerns in photography—a rich enough vein where you're happy enough to stay—is hard, and rare. His style might not be my own exact cup of tea (call me hidebound, but my allegiances with this subject matter remain stuck on the late Raghubir Singh), but the important thing is that it's his and he's really good at it. And from here, it's refreshing to see such clarity of mission, expressed equally well visually and verbally. I envy that, sometimes. And I'm not even the envious sort.
Even if one of Eric's best-known shots is actually in black-and-white!
Featured Comment by Bruce Appelbaum: "Eric did a workshop one night earlier this year at Adorama. I already had a copy of his previous book (Last Places on Earth), love it, so I signed up. Loved him and what he had to say about photography and his way of doing it. When I saw that India was coming out, I pre-ordered it from Amazon sight-unseen. What a great book!
"For those of you in the NYC area, Adorama runs a series of workshops weeknights and Sundays. The best of them are those sponsored by Canon and Nikon, featuring great photographers showing their work, discussing their style, and giving away their secrets. And even better—these 2.5–3 hour workshops cost $25, which is refunded in the form of a $25 gift certificate. I've attended the $25 special workshops given by Meola, Joe McNally, and Seth Resnick in the last year, and have signed up for a few more for 2009. Even better: these are not shill sessions for Canon and Nikon, they are great learning experiences."