I promised last week, when I wrote about the new reprint of John Szarkowski's essential Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art [U.K. link here], that I'd post one of the 100 picture/essay combinations. This is neither the best nor the longest essay, and not the most appealing picture; it's intended as a representative sample of what the book's all about, to allow you to get a taste of it. (Note that the JPEG I've used here isn't the best; not all of the pictures are online in acceptable form.)
To say again: one of my very favorite photography books, warmly recommended.
American, born Austria, 1906
Gambler Type, French Riviera, 1938
13 7/8 x 10 1/4
The gambler, tanned and sleek and self-contained, waits in the afternoon sun for the adventure of the night. His relaxation is provisional, like a cat's; his eyes watch the photographer as they would watch the dealer or the croupier, alert for a hint of sleight of hand. His own hands are held appropriately close to the vest, cupped as though to gather in his counters.
Model has made her photograph from very close, and from a low vantage point, which foreshortens the gambler's figure. It is an unfamiliar and menacing perspective. If she moves one step closer, he may kick the camera neatly from her hands.
Featured Comment by Sean Murphy: "I'm so pleased that you've highlighted this book. I can attest to its enduring qualities. It was used as a textbook for a college course in B&W I took lo these many years back. I come back to it again and again even after having read and looked at it since it came out. Seeing that it is available again just gave me another reason to take it out and just look."
Mike replies: I do the same, Sean. If anything I like it better now than when I first encountered it, many readings ago.