Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Geoffrey James

Among photographers whose work I return to time and again is Geoffrey James. His work has ranged from Italian Gardens to the Etruscan landscape of the Campagna Romana to Canadian asbestos mines to the Mexican/US border fence to Olmstead’s parks to the Prairies and to Toronto. At first glance his photographs can often seem quite serene and yet as you look at them there is frequently a strong yet subtle dynamic that seeps you right into the picture.

He also makes complex pictures – especially his panoramic photographs, which I think he does better than anyone since Sudek (In a recent interview he noted; “One thing I have learned from using panoramic cameras for almost 30 years is that they are not very good at panoramas. They are very good in cramped or complex spaces.”)

For me, James is one a small group of photographers making Modern black and white photographs yet whose work isn’t romantic or anachronistic or sentimental but rather thoroughly contemporary (others would be George Tice, Gabrielle Basilico, Robert Adams, Toshio Shibata to name a few).

I’d have to say my favourite books are the two Italian ones – Italian Gardens and Campagna Romana, along with Paris (which is a gem) and Viewing Olmstead (which he did with Lee Friedlander and Robert Burley)

Geoffrey has also been something of a mentor, for which I am more grateful than I can express.

Following are some links to his books and a few other examples of his work:

1 comment:

julian said...

I first came into contact with GFs work through the Olmstead book. It was a real Eureka moment for me that ranks with suddenly understanding Friedlander's cactus pics and Eggs Democratic Forest. When I need inspiration, I always look through the books of his I've got. He works a project so totally different from the fashionable Becher clones, full of lyricism but at the same time analytical. IMO THE most underated photographer today...