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Monday, 11 April 2022

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The last time I was asked about photography books, this was my list:

On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide. Bill Jay and David Hurn

On Looking at Photographs: A Practical Guide. Bill Jay and David Hurn

Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs. Ansel Adams

Born Free and Equal. Ansel Adams

I can't say they'll help anyone else, but I learned the most from them.

OK, I'll bite... Rather than (re)exhume the all time greatest hits, yet again- let's try some recent, more than worthy, lesser known greats (in no particular order):

1) American Parade- George Georiou
2) Somewhere Along The Line- Joshua D. Greer
3) The Island Position- John Lehr
4) American Interiors- ML Casteel
5) HouseRaising- Ira Wagner
6) The Last Stop- Ryann Ford
7) Four Seasons Total Landscaping- Brian Rose
8) Middle England- John Meyers
9) Bad Driving- Louis Porter
10) Fluffy Clouds- Jurgen Nefzger

Interesting to see Levitt's crosstown. The cover is B&W whilst many photos (as far as I can tell) are in colour, something I thought (was told?) is a no-no in photo-books. It'd be interesting to see how it works!

Mike,—I like your list. Some additional choices from my bookshelf in the category of black and white monographs: Fan Ho, “Hong Kong Yesterday”; Mary Ellen Mark, “Exposure”; David and Peter Turnley, “In Times of War and Peace”; Elliott Erwitt, “Personal Best”; Jane Bown, “Faces”; Michael Kenna, “A Twenty Year Retrospective”; Harold Feinstein, “A Retrospective”; Vivian Maier, “Street Photographer”; Garry Winogrand, “Figments from the Real World”; Sebastiao Salgado, “Migrations”; Bruce Davidson, “Outside Inside”.

Thanks for the list Mike, definitely some new ones for me to check out. I too love your books of the week. I bought your recommended book, “Photowork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice” by Sasha Wolf. I have to say it’s been a highly educational and intimate look into the work and working styles of a whole range of photographers mostly new to me. A revelation, in short. Just like your blog, it’s mostly about photography, but sometimes not, and I for one enjoy the variety.

And where are the Italians? Where is a giant like Berengo Gardin? Where the architecture photographer, Gabriele Basilico? It's not just the Americans who goof around with a camera.

[Why are you interested in Italians? I assume it's because you're Italian. Well, I'm American, aren't I? So that's why there are more Americans on my list--that's where I grew up, that's whose books were available, that's who I heard about. It's not a plot.

You could provide us with a list of outstanding books by Italian photographers. I'd like that. --Mike]

"A ten best of color photography, a ten best of photo history, a ten best of readings, a ten best of surveys, a ten best of snapshots and "found" photography.."

Yes please;-)

Liked some of these picks, the DeCarava especially---but it's $500. Too bad, sounds like one I'd like to have. But I was especially drawn this morning to your "sponge" period and its contrasting "I'm older now, and know what I know." That's pretty much how I feel these days. But I think there's a good reason for this: you can't just keep sponging as an artist. Eventually, you've got to "get down to it". And that's what I've done in my practice, and it has paid dividends (well, not "paid" as in cash, sadly..).

Hi Mike - I just bought “A Vision Shared” by Hank O’Neal et al based on your suggestion. It’s a perfect book for me because of my interest in photography AND this time period in American history. Steidl is the publisher and so I expected high quality. It’s good, maybe even very good, but not great. I’ve seen better black points in other books. But it could also be the actual photographs. I will be keeping the book for sure. It is so full of compelling photographs about a unique time in our history. The quality is easily good enough for this to be a book that many will enjoy. I know I will. Thanks for the list!

On Exiles, I think I have the same edition as you have. But I have two editions of Gypsies, Both with Aperture and MOMA sponsorship. The first appeared in 1975. The second is very different, enlarged in size and scope (more pictures), with prints made by Voja Mitrovic and printed by Steidl. The second edition's prints have a charcoal drawing tonality (and suffer from occasional bouts of gutter disease). The softer prints bring out fascinating extra details. I would guess that the photographer who approved them, forty years later, had changed. The style of the later edition of Gypsies is more consistent with the look of Koudelka's retrospective volume, and with his recent The Wall.

The problem that some of us have is that we consider ourselves to still be in that “sponge” period when it is clearly behind us. Thus the 50 boxes ‘o books in my living room awaiting the Second Story Books truck. Twenty more boxes are moving with me!

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