Photographers Part One Book Reviews

17th August 2019

Minutes To Midnight, Trent Parke

Trent Parke (2013). Minutes To Midnight. Germany: Steidl 

“Minutes to Midnight is an apocalyptic book, but they are real documents, they’re real events, real moments in time that have happened,” explains Magnum photographer Trent Parke. Shot over the course of two years and covering over 90,000 km, Minutes to Midnight is a seductively dark, black and white, enigmatic narrative of Parke’s homeland of Australia.

THE EDITORS “JUXTAPOZ “

This book is absolutely breathtaking. The imagery dark and brooding, intense in the hidden details. I have spent such a long time on each photograph, looking in the foreground, background and at the subjects within them.

The scenes and the people and animals that reside within them, look so detached from reality. They are unsettling in their dark worlds, and there is a feeling something bad will happen, or has happened and they are left in the aftermath.

I am left looking at the images in awe, Parke is a story teller and there is no boundary between documentary and imagination. The documentary feature is the people, the subjects and their environment and Parke’s lighting technique is the imagination. The combination of these two aspects of his photography gives us an otherworldly abstract intimacy, it is like looking at the unknown – scary but exhilirating.


21st August 2019

Gabriele Basilico 55

Francesco Bonami (2001), Gabriele Basilico. Hong Kong: Phaidon Press Limited

There were so many books to choose from about Basilico and his works. If you know me, there is one thing that you know I am addicted too, and that is books. For me, looking in a book which is held in my hands, feeling the paper as the pages are turned and the smell, actually the whole experience is so much better than looking on a computer screen. I love books.

bought the cheapest book on Basilico that I could find, purely because I know throughout this course I will want to but more. The worse thing about this purchase is that I have found out that it is a series. I am now researching the other photographers that the series covers with the intent of purchasing a few.

This book was smaller than I had imagined it would be. It is not a disappointment though. It is literally bag size, so it can be transported easily for when I want a book to read while I am out. 

The photographs are presented chronologically and in black and white only. The accompanying font is a pleasure as it is not the standard font that runs through most books and compliments the photographs well, I particularly like how the text runs from the centre of the page downwards leaving a negative space above. Sometimes this negative space holds text from the previous pages photograph if it is a double spread.

The book begins with a photograph of Basilico himself (above), with an excellent introduction written by Francesco Bonami who is an Italian contemporary art curator and an international pre-eminent critic.

Following the introduction we have a series of works taken throughout Basilico’s career. The photographs are presented with the date and place they were taken and then a description by Basilico himself. The description is more than ‘this is what you see/ I saw,’ they have reflections about and a background to the place that they were taken. This gives the photographs so much substance because you begin to see more than the visual representation of the image.

Finally at the back of the book there is a brief summary of his achievements.

There are so many amazing works presented within this book, 55 in fact and hence the title of the series, ‘Phaidens 55.’ This book contains many photographs and accompanying notes that I would probably never had come across if I had not bought the book. It is a little treasure and one that I would recommend for people to purchase, especially at such a small second hand price. You wouldn’t be disappointed.


9th September 2019

Harold Edgerton SEEING THE UNSEEN

Edited by Kurtz, Douglas and Kayafas (2018), Harold Edgerton SEEING THE UNSEEN. Germany: Steidl.

For me the highlight of the book is the appendix which show pages from Edgerton’s laboratory notebooks. These provide a detailed insight into his working mind complete with photographs and handwritten notes. The accompanying notes are often complex, scientific, technical and show mechanical workings in the form of diagrams.

This review is taken from Amazon.uk and is written by one of their top reviewers known as Robin.

Without Harold Edgerton’s pioneering laboratory strobe work so many things in the natural world just wouldn’t be visible. This fascinating book of his photos reveals the unseen in colour and mono. His most famous image was the ‘Milk drop coronet’ taken 1936 (on page fifty-five there’s a 1957 colour version) though, as the book reveals, Arthur Worthington took a similar but cruder attempt in 1895.

The photos, taken in the laboratory during the early thirties are technically interesting but lack the visual excitement of Edgerton’s later work as he developed the flash technique that produced amazing action shots. Page 107 has a 1938 photo of golfer Densmore Shute taken with a flash that fired a hundred times second to reveal the golf club revolving round his body or the 1940 shot of a fan of playing cards leaving a right-hand and cascading to a left-hand. Some photos just make you stop and stare, for example a 1963 multi-flash photo of a member of the Moscow State Circus on seven-foot stilts doing a backflip or David Tork, in 1964, doing a pole vault, the photo shows him six times as he leaves the ground and drifts over the bar, both of these pictures are in colour.

Capturing the rhythm of movement was Edgerton’s forte and the book’s 158 photos clearly show this. There are four short essays by people who knew him and how he worked and taught at MIT. Steidl have gone the extra mile and reproduced thirty-two pages from his notebooks full of technical drawings, stuck-in photos and handwritten thoughts on setting up various shots, these pages will certainly interest any photographer who does highly technical work other readers will enjoy seeing the unseen.

ROBIN, AMAZON.UK. 

The following photographs are taken from the website, bookshop.thephotographersgallery.org.uk


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