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10-12-2015, 08:16 AM - 2 Likes   #1
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Favourite non-technical photo book

I have a fairly substantial library of photo books but one has really stuck in my mind: "Journey to Nowhere" (1985, The Dial Press), by Dale Maharidge and superb accompanying photographs by Michael Williamson, two journalists from the Sacramento Bee. In some respects recalling the Agee & Evans collaboration, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men", and in many respects surpassing it as gritty, no-holds-barred photojournalism, nothing prettied up or romanticized by classic composition (and I'm a slobbering Walker Evans sycophant). The book is out of print, the subject is unfashionable and unglamorous as hell, but it speaks a cogent truth 30 years later. Sure glad I haven't lost it in all the years and many moves since, every time I've misplaced it has prompted a frantic and relentless search until it turns up.

What's your favourite book, and why?

10-12-2015, 08:47 AM   #2
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I have a collection of Michael Freeman's books that I refer to all the time. Many of them are picture books with a bit of commentary attached. The goal is to not only explain, but to show, various things to look for. What's more is he goes into substantial detail about what to look for and do in order to become a better photographer. Everything from composing with color, to figuring out how to read 400 different types of light, to how to compose with shadows, to all sorts of things. If you have ever wondered 'why did he pick that aperture' well, he explains all that briefly and explains his work flow.

Pretty much it's the closest thing to standing next to a true professional and taking notes that I have been able to find.
10-12-2015, 10:33 AM   #3
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Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits or Roberto Valenzuela: Picture Perfect Practice are my favourites and two you don't see mentioned often, I guess. "Journey ..." looks interesting, I'll see if I can find it at the library.
10-12-2015, 10:54 AM   #4
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Well, I'm really glad I started this thread, because it prompted me to do some quick follow-up googling. So Maharidge and Williamson aren't long-since retired in obscurity, as I had wrongly supposed (!), they've published several more books, one of which netted Maharidge a Pulitzer, and Williamson has moved on to the Washington Post. Here's an interesting interview featuring Williamson and several colleagues that is very much in the same vein as "Journey to Nowhere": BagNewsSalon: The Visual Framing of "The Great Recession" - Reading the PicturesReading the Pictures

---------- Post added 10-12-15 at 11:04 AM ----------

The Heisler book looks interesting. As far as technical books, I cut my teeth on a John Hedgecoe back in the 70s, then I discovered Eliot Porter (another book) and my concerns shifted away from the 'how' to the 'what' and 'why'.


Last edited by dsmithhfx; 10-12-2015 at 11:04 AM.
10-12-2015, 12:06 PM   #5
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I love the book Arnold Newman: Masterclass, which has a collection of Newman's stupendous environmental portraits, combined with some short essays about him and his work. Many consider him to be the father of environmental portraiture. It is an education in portraiture for anyone interested in the genre.

Jo-Anne McArthur's book We Animals captivates me for different reasons, and it won't appeal to everyone. It contains some hauntingly beautiful portraits of animals. But it is primarily a call to action (for people to treat animals better) and aside from its message, what I appreciate is how she has organized the book, into themes, and combined advocacy with imagery. Not all of the images are disturbing - some of them are portraits of loved animals in safe environments. They give me hope and make it a little easier to look at some of the more upsetting images.
10-12-2015, 01:20 PM   #6
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Great thread to open up!

On the serious documentary front, For Most Of It I Have No Words by Simon Norfolk is great. I can spend ages looking at the images in Robert van Der Hilst's Interieurs Chinois, they are just beautiful. Olivier Jobard's Kingsley is a great photographic journal (though in French) and I really like Nightscapes on Earth by Florent Demarchez.

Ok, I'm off to google some of the books mentioned in the other replies above!
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