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Monday, 12 October 2015


Harry Gruyaert is someone I think of whenever I hear a new photographer say, "Great DOF!" when they mean just the opposite. If you want real depth of field, beautifully used, Harry's your man.

I was in the process of writing a short piece on this book and its author.

Short answer: if you want to see color used magnificently, yes, get this book. Gruyaert has taken his place next to Haas in my library of outstanding color work.

Very rich and balanced. Reminds me of Saul Leiter. Thanks again for costing me money Mike 😉

I haven't got the book but quite like this quote he gave in this interview http://www.bjp-online.com/2015/07/harry-gruyaert-interview/

“There is no story. It’s just a question of shapes and light,”

Sort of in the manner of Vermeer shooting 4x5 Polacolor. Nice.

That is a great shot and it does look like a painting.
Interesting that some photographs look like paintings.
I have had a few photos printed on canvas (Giclee') and it is effective in that way . Conversely some painters work is so realistic it looks like a photo.
I knew a woman in San Diego who painted in a style called FAUX. She painted wood to look like stone or marble,and painted stone and plaster to look like wood.

If you like Saul Leiter or Fred Herzog, you won't be disappointed by his work. I have his excellent book "Roots" which features impressions from 70's Belgium. But I'd say it catches the mood of the 70's of western Europe in general. He has a marvelous sense of color, form and human emotion at the same time, which is a rare combination in my opinion.

Europe's William Eggleston...but without a John Szarkowski to beat his drum!

Go for it, Mike, go for it. I'm a B&W shooter and I naturally gravitate towards the timelessness of BW work, but sometimes you gotta give it to the color guys: they are the real masters, for good color work is much tougher than BW, with so many additional variables to factor into your visual solution.
And Gruyaert is one of them, not by chance born in the low countries with their incredibly pictorial light, plus grown up discovering the vividness of Mediterranean suns (witness his Morocco work, another must-have book).
But doing exciting color work in "exotic" Morocco is a piece of cake compared to finding great color images in the drab suburbia of that quirkily lovable, but fundamentally drab no-man's land in Europe called Belgium, not quite France but not quite the Netherlands either.
A country that managed pretty well without a government for 540 days, recently, thank you very much.
So yes, my two cents (and actually a hundred or so of my euros) are on this guy, you won't regret the expense.
Cheers (and some DĂŒvel beer),

Coincidentally I was just looking through Harry's Magnum portfolio the other day,
on the recommendation of A young Chinese photographer I met on flickr. Some lovely images, although I hadn't seen this beach one.

As far as summer is concerned, we here in Western Australia have just started our 6 or 7 months of summer. I celebrated with the first swim of the year and a tri-x vs rodinal 35mm grain fest.

The photo in your posting was enough motivation for me to order the book. Through the TOP link, of course.

Cant comment on it, except to say he floats my boat and will be getting it.

Thank you for Harry Gruyaert.

For all Londoners, there is a 2 week exhibition of his work in the Magnum Print Room on Old Street from 14-30th October. Admission is free. 11am onwards daily.

Timely, don't you think?

Dear Mike,
I have the book, it is a "must have": beautifully bound, well edited with all photos printed on one page (no two-page spreads).
It spans Gruyaert's carrier from 1972 to 2012.
Listed at € 55 in "my" Brussels bookshop, at $ 40.90 it is a steal.
Best regards,

Mike you might find this of interest.

Great book! I bought it a month ago. The printing really brings out the feeling of his style, grainy and immediate with the loverly Kodachrome palette. Well with the money.

I looked at it in the recent exhibition of his work at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. The book is beautiful, and the quality of the reproductions is excellent.
I'm tempted by this book or by the one on Morroco that I find even better (and not so much "conceptual"): http://www.amazon.fr/Maroc-Harry-Gruyaert/dp/2845974787

The book is very interesting. It is printed dark and with a strange gamut. It's almost a reinterpretation of the work, at least as it appears online. I don't presume to know Gruyaert's intent, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn that the book captures it. At any rate, I think it would encourage you to reconsider your characterization of him as a formalist.


My first reaction to seeing this photo is that it's a stunningly good composition. The light is fantastic, and the line of changing huts leads one from the foreground to the background, and there's the dynamic lean of the kids on the beach that all make for a great composition.


Harry Gruyaert was one of my heros 30 years ago when I was tinkering with color photography. I don't have that book but I saw his exhibition this spring at the "Maison européenne de la photographie" in Paris and it was stunnig. He is not just a master in color, he is the one.

I'm a bit embarrassed to say I hadn't heard of Harry Gruyaert, being a big fan of his style of photography and considering myself reasonably knowledgeable about it. I put the book on my wishlist.

It figures you should like his work. It stands in a line with that of Fred Herzog and Saul Leiter, which you have featured here.

Still this wonderful image is not typical, I dare say. Many of his pictures feature much more mundane scenes, not as ethereal as your example. Some are featured here [http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/7782/harry-gruyaert-a-career-in-technicolour] and at the Magnum site.

I do not have this book, it's only recently been published to coincide with a show of his work in Paris and London. Personally I generally prefer the "original" books as edited/ curated by the photographer himself. Catalogues can be a good first overview, but very often are a hotchpotch lacking any inherent cohesion. Thus I do have the "Roots" wich features his native Belgium and the "Rivages" (Edges in English) from which your example is taken. Both are highly recommendable as is his volume on Marocco.

Rivages/ Edges is unfortunately OOP and hard to obtain (There is a marketplace offer at A***.ca right now, though).

Love that photo

Hi Mike.
Thanks a lot for pointing out this photographer. I did not know his work before I found your post today. Great photos and very inspiring!

I saw his exhibition at Maison Européenne de la Photographie last May in Paris. I did not buy the book. It was not faithfull to the exhibited prints. I was nevertheless impressed by his quiet pictures.

I have the book. It's lovely.

The compositions are much more sophisticated than "like a 19th-century painter" imply. Great stuff.

Nice! Lots of his pictures can bee seen at the Magnum site.
He is a colorist and a formalist, but also a story teller. And fun that he can echo other photographers in single pictures while still keeping his own distinct style. One of his Moroccan pictures even echoes one I myself tried to take in New York a few years ago - don't know how he did that ;-)

I love Gruyaert. Hoping someone with the book will post a comment about the book. In the mean time, added to the ever-growing Amazon wish-list.

I'm real fan of Harry Gruyaert. This new book really reminds me of Saul Leiter combined with Ernst Haas and other real color photographers. I would recommend the book "Edges", no longer in print, if you really enjoy his landscape photo's like the one in this post.


If you like Harry Gruyaert you may like Jan Meissner



She shoots with a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24 to 105 lens (not a Leica as the blog may make you think :-).

Harry Gruyaert, Saul Leiter and Jan Meissner are all "street photographers" who use longer than normal lenses for street photography (breaking a "rule" that "you can't do that without being creepy"). It's interesting that they all look for interesting color, light and composition from a distance rather than being "in that action" with the typical 28 to 35mm street photographer's lens.

I've got one by him named "Roots". Not sure if it's the same. Really love it. But then, I'm a great fan of Belgian photographers in general.

So yes, by all means get it.

Two more names worth googling: Stephan Vanfleteren, Gilbert Fastenaekens

All those who can't or don't want to spend those 40 bucks, go and have a look at Niko Cobben's photography:


Color street with a normal (not wide) lens is what I've come to prefer, even if it's attached to my phone


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