Photographers Part Two Book Reviews

13th September 2019

Karl Blossfeldt (Icons)

Edited by Hans-Christian Adam (2001), Karl Blossfeldt (Icons). Taschen

Karl Blossfeldt (1864-1932) was a German photographer, sculptor, teacher, and artist who was trained in the arts at the Academy of Royal Crafts Museum in Berlin, Germany. He is best known for his stark close-up photographs of plants, twigs, seeds, leaves, and other flora.  

I already have some of the Taschen Icons series, so I was more than happy to purchase this book to add to my collection.

It is a lovely pocket sized book, so yet again, I am able to take it out and about with me for company when I have that cheeky coffee break while out sketching or while I am on a photography shoot. There are many photographs in this book and I am finding that the images are not akin to biological study material but, for me, come across very artistic due to the plants composition within the borders. I am also finding looking at plants and seeds this way as quite fascinating, certainly when you isolate the plant/ seed from their background and view them on their own, their outlines and shape become very important to our eye. I am also liking how Blossfeldt captures lines and textures so vividly, with his lighting it is like I can run my fingers on the page and feel, for example, the lines on the leaves.

It shows 200 examples of Blossfeldt’s black and white photographs of flowers and has a biography at the back starting from his birth year through to 1932.

21st September 2019

In Focus – Manuel Alvarez Bravo


General Editor Western Naef (2001), Manuel Alvarez Bravo (In Focus). Getty Publications

I managed to purchase an old library edition from eBay and luckily the condition is very good apart from the usual stamps and additions of codes etc… on the inside cover. Buying such bargains has its good points for me as I am able to buy more books for the price of one this way.

Mexico’s most famous photographer. In eight decades as a photographer, he interacted with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Sergei Eisentein, Tino Modotti and Octavio Paz, and created works of art that display an array of styles and themes. This volume contains 50 images with extended commentaries on each by Robert Tejada, an independent curator and critic. There is also a transcript of a symposium on Manuel Alvarez Bravo.


Another A5 sized book. This is a tally quite a good learning source. Not just being introduced to some of Bravo’s work but each photograph comes with a description of its content and Bravos intentions with subject matter and composition etc… This enables a student to learn from a good photographer not just by seeing but learning about concepts and story and descriptions which the images hold.

I certainly will read this a couple of times as I always seem to be inspired by other peoples work which not only informs my own practice but helps me to step forward with it on the learning curve.

All 50 images are black and white and there are various themes within the book such as portraits, architecture and the street life of Mexico

07th October 2019

Art Forms In Nature

Introduction by Karl Nieren Dorf (1929), Art Forms In nature. London: A Zwemmer Charing Cross Road

English First edition 1929

I am amazed to say that I managed to purchase this first edition on eBay. I bought it because when I was reading reviews and information on the original book I had discovered that the prints in the original books were not like the images in the more modern edition books because these had been manipulated. I therfore decided I would attempt to find the English first edition so that I could see the original images as they had been produced for the book.

I loved the text with the old font which I think is Cooper BT, although I am not 100% sure. It reminds me of the early 20th Century Bibles that I use to collect.

If we compare the two images below, we can see how some of the newer books have had the photographs manipulated so that they look more black and white with contrast. The left image is the original from the book that I have.

The book is a green cloth hardback with a lovely gilt design and lettering on the cover and spine. It has 120 full page photogravure plates which is an intaglio printmaking or photo-mechanical process. This link will take you to a YouTube video which shows you the entire process of inking and printing a photogravure plate.

Below are three examples of plates within the book.

I am very pleased with my purchase. The images are scientific and artistic at the same time, Blossfeldt often arranges the plants on the picture plane to look as though they are a pattern.

Definitely a good purchase and a bit of history at that!