Sunday, May 20, 2007

5B4 - Photography and Books

Time to point to a new blog - 5B4 - a blog a bout photo books. It's pretty prolific so far, so I hope the author can keep it up.

There are a lot of quite in depth reviews, and an eclectic selection of books.
A few of my favourites so far - a selection of books about Walker Evans at work

Swiss Policeman Arnold Odermatt's (who I talked about here) new book On Duty

And John Davies The British Landscape

But there's also Laura Letinsky, Tony Ray Jones, Friedlander and many more.

And the writing about books is good - here's a sample from the Odermatt review:

"Armed with Rolliflex cameras and color film, Odermatt “documents” his buddies laying speed traps on highways, looking over files of fingerprints, taking part in water rescue scenarios, and investigating car accidents. I say “documents” because most of the images are staged. The participants literally acted out moments from their daily routine under Odermatt’s direction.

All members of the force are in on the fun and are obviously having a great time playing their individual parts in these small photo plays. Their postures and poses indicate their “ideal” image of what they must actually look like when performing these duties in real life. This creates a sense of stiffness in the photos. It is as if the individual personality of each man has been removed and we are left with a group of law enforcing automatons. This quality adds a great deal of humor to these images.

Even though the acting may be stiff, or Odermatt’s ability to direct people is poor, he is a hell of a natural photographer. These images use the vocabulary of advertising images with their clear and sharp descriptions and enticing color palette, but are often so well made that they are not of the lowest common denominator. Odermatt uses all of the information in the frame to his advantage. These are not just pictures where the subject dominates and the rest of the frame or background description is left without regard. From foreground to background, side to side and top to bottom, these frames are masterfully constructed.

Often we are faced with the absurd. Whether conscious of it or not, Odermatt has a flair for organization and timing that creates an absurdist humor or drama to some of the photos. In one, a man aims a machine gun while wearing full protective vest and head covering while in the background a neon blue water pitcher (the brightest color in the frame) mocks the shape of the head covering and the barrel of the gun. In another photo, two chalk outlines of cars are left alone on the road and look as if they themselves have skidded and crashed into one another."
Of course, you are probably going to end up buying more books...