14.02.12 & 13 -> New Books

I spent the 12th and 13th housebound and, mostly, in bed due to a cold. This obviously curtailed my photo opportunities but, luckily, I had a couple of new books to keep me occupied and help me recharge my batteries. As well as being a gear head I also love photobooks – I see it as slightly redeeming me a bit as an artist… though it is probably just another expensive shopping habit!

My latest acquisitions are; The recent Pentti Sammallahti retrospective “Here Far Away”, bought from one of the arty bookshops on Broadway Market, and Mitch Epstein.State of The Nation, which is an exhibition catalogue published by Hatje Cantz which came from a charity shop in Clapham for a bargain £6. I also started to read Owen Hatherly’s “Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain” – more of which later, I’m sure.

Sammallahti is a Finnish photographer with a finely honed sense of geometry and a dark and moody printing style. Taken purely on the compositional qualities the photographs are superb and finely balanced, yet the mood is a little dark. A sort of Nordic rendering of Cartier-Bresson with most of the humour removed! That may sound like a put down but it’s not – the emotional content to the images is nuanced and restrained rather than upfront. The book itself seems a bit over inked and a touch too dense at first glance, however having seen the prints at the photographers gallery recently I can see it is a pretty good representation of the photographers own printing. That said I still feel the book blocks up the dark areas a touch too much.

The Epstein book is a big contrast and much lighter on the surface. An enjoyable slice of American colour photography, again a retrospective and spanning back to the 70s. Interestingly the style less consistent. The thought this sparked is that, it seems to me, colour photographers work may vary more visually than B&W photographers as, perhaps, the technology is not as mature and still developing. This applies even now, with digital sensors continually changing.


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