So, the one thing that's a keeper - The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings by photographer KayLynn Deveney is a gorgeous little book, very nicely produced by Princeton Architectural Press and selling for a quite reasonable price - in fact as photography books go, it's a bargain.
The book is poignant and elegiac and yet straightforward and down to earth and not in the least bit sentimental. In fact nostalgia or sentimentality would have quickly sent it over the edge into Hallmark territory, but the mixture of pictures and words always remains grounded - in part due to a slight undercurrent of melancholy - and yet there is humour as well.
When Albert Hastings was eighty-five years old, photographer KayLynn Deveney moved near his small flat in Wales. KayLynn took notice of the small rituals and routines—gardening, laundry, grocery shopping—that made up Bert's life. A friendship slowly developed as KayLynn began photographing parts of Bert's day. The two developed a simple yet effective method of storytelling—with KayLynn's images and Albert's handwritten text—and the project evolved into The Day-to Day Life of Albert Hastings a poignant and profound chronicle of aging, living alone, and the small things that make up our daily lives. Containing seventy-eight photographs along with poems written by Bert, his clock drawings, and personal family photographs, The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings gives the reader a glimpse into one man's life, we can only imagine what stories are left untold.
...Kaylynn’s photography is warm and respectful. As photographers, some approach a subject knowing that it is full of potential to make “good pictures.” Others approach a subject because of an interest in learning something through the process of picture-making. Deveney seems intent on using the medium to bridge a generational gap and befriend her seemingly charismatic and warm neighbor. Photography may have invoked the friendship but after looking at the pictures, it seems to have taken a back seat to the importance of the relationship in both of their lives.
If it were just a book of photographs alone, we might read Mr. Hastings as simply a stand in for a representative portrait of an older Wales everyman, but through his participation in the project, by captioning the photographs, we decipher his personality due to his choice of words in describing the photographs content. They often display, not only humor, but also a directness that comments on his perception of himself and photographs.
Under one photograph of a hat he writes simply “Size 7 1/8”
Under one of him near a golden lit window he writes, “I’m not talking to a ghost, I’m opening the curtains.”... (more).