Photo Books, My First & Last

Photo Books, My First & Last

Browsing through a good photo book is like listening to classic concept album. Each page featuring compelling images that reveal the details of a larger narrative.  

Transcript for Photo Books - My First & Latest Photo Book Purchases video

" hello and happy 2023!

Who knows what this year's got in store for us! I hope you had a good time over Christmas and New Year's Day and and I hope that January isn't hitting you too hard. I know January can be a bit of a tricky month for lots of reasons for different people. But I thought it might be nice to share one of the things that really inspires me all year round really, but particularly in the darker months.

You know when the days are much shorter I really love turn to photo books for inspiration and have done for as long as I can remember really. 

I've always really found looking through photo books an important foundation to inform my photography as I've grown and developed as a photographer.

So I thought I'd share that with you and for the first time on hopefully more videos like this as hopefully you'll like them.

I thought what I'd do is share the first photo book I bought and the last photo book I bought. Well actually it's not the last photo book I bought, it's the last one that got delivered because it took a while for this one to come through. But anyway let me start with the first book I bought which is Magnum Degrees.

Magnum: Degrees Photo Book

I bought this not at the actual exhibition but after seeing the exhibition because I was working at WH Smiths... So I finished my when I finished my GCSEs I went straight on to a National Diploma in photography and while I was doing that I was working at WH Smith's at the weekends and on Thursday nights and I got 25% off at WH Smith's AND you could order in any books. So they didn't have this book on the shelf but you could if it had an ISBN number you could order it in which was great.

So anyway, I went to this Exhibition at the Barbican with Magnum and the idea of this exhibition pulled together this kind of global view of the world at this time . So I think it sort of spans from I probably should fact check this but I think it's sort of from the period of the Berlin Wall coming down up until late 90s (I think). But hopefully that's right - anyway it gives this really vast and diverse view of the world during that that time period. And it was quite; almost overwhelming actually to walk through.

If you've ever been to the Barbican it's quite a big space and there were tons and tons and tons of photos and actually having a book to look back on is actually a little bit more uh "enjoyable" is not the right word but certainly easier to take in, in a way because I can dip in and out of the book.

But I just remember you know as this uh I guess 17 year old walking around this exhibition space and really feeling the weight of all these different photographs, trying to take them in and trying to understand them, or absorb them. So the book was really good and um and there's a few photos in here that are really stand-out pieces. I'm just gonna pick out one for for this video because it's the one that I return to more than any of the other photos in it.

It's of this this black and white photo of a young, I guess you would looking at it instantly interpret them as uh Tibetan monks, maybe. And there's an interaction going on there and you know what I'll do, here is Photograph by Martine Frank I will read her introduction to the to the photo.

"Perhaps because I went to boarding school I wasn't that Amazed by the way of life of tolkus the young reincarnations of great Tibetan llamas these children are brought up in monasteries from the age of three or four and are educated to grow into and continue the work of their predecessors what impressed me was the veneration love and tenderness with which these children are surrounded one has to try to imagine what it means to the tutors monks and disciples to be in the presence of a child who for them is The Reincarnation of a master master they have known and loved in these monasteries The Chosen Few are brought up as the elite or as an elite but is up to the child tolki to prove himself later on in life as a true spiritual guide and master whether one is a Buddhist or not one cannot but respect this transmission of knowledge the handing on of ancient wisdom"

So that's it description or intro into this this photo and for for me it's it's just I think there's just something powerful in there. That this sort of relationship there's  nature with this feral pigeon that's landed on the head of the tutor and it's a really precious moment that you know there's no awareness of the camera being there for any of the three, what's the word? Well there's two people and there's a pigeon so there's, there's three subjects in the photo and all three of them are engrossed and captivated by that moment rather than the camera.

And that was one of the big standout things for me that's what I love about it and I think it's just, it's always a reminder that for me that the emotion and the power of the image comes from that moment and comes from that that sort of invisibility of the camera. And also of the viewer really. There's no intention of where this photo might go or might be seen it's just this really tender and uninhibited moment, that we're lucky and privileged to Bear witness to.

I think that's the other thing with this book which I think which found really captivated me. It was you know it was a much smaller world when when I got this book. I mean the internet was just starting you know. I think it was a dial up at my mum and Dad's and one person could go at it at one time at that moment. And it was still you know very much a small world for me. So having this book it's just having things from all around the world and these different viewpoints was really quite a powerful thing.

You can still pick up this book second hand I've had a look and certainly as a soft cover version in second hand you can pick up on eBay or whatever at a really good price. So I'd totally recommend getting it because it's just such a vast and diverse collection of images it's really quite a useful book to have and dip into from time to time because there will be something for everyone in here and there will be some photographs that you will like. Some you might not like so much but it's a very very diverse and an inspirational book for me and it's the one that I've enjoyed returning to many a time. In fact on that photo you can see a massive crease along that image where I've turned back to it so many so many times.

So anyway I'll move on from from from that picture which I hope hope you enjoyed looking at and I hope it might tempt you further to look into that book as well because it's well worth looking at.

Meet Bob Photo Book by Jasper Doest

Available at 

And to the latest book that's come through my door which is 'Meet Bob' by a fantastic photographer called Jasper Doest.

He's a photographer for the National Geographic. I follow him and he does some really good photography. The most recent project he did was on pigeons during lockdown that were visiting his apartment and this book meet Bob was a project that broke through in the Wildlife photography of the Year Awards a number of years ago and his work really is quite special to look at . In fairness I'll probably only pick out one shot here but I do I remember being completely engrossed I guess in the images from from this project. And the approach and I think it's really quite quite a lovely collection of photos.

The project itself is this Flamingo who was injured and uh nursed back to health and rehabilitated but not couldn't / wasn't seen as ever being able to return to the Wild and live and survive in its natural habitat.

So from that point on Bob was used as a tool to educate and engage with the public on conservation issues and the issues facing flamingos.

This is a really wonderful collection of photos. For me, I think there's photos that stand out the most are the ones with the juxtaposition of you know, I think there's one where the Bob's walking in front of a vending machine you know those kind of photos that almost physically make your head jump back. Because you're not used to seeing. Flamingo shots are quite common with the overhead shots of the flamingos over the Lagoon or flying across and we're used to seeing those kind of real natural environments that flamingos are in.

But here something jars for us because it's that all the photos are very sort of human I guess human and urban-ish at times. They just really kind of strike you because they're so different from any other flamingo shots that you've seen I think the one that I'm gonna pick out here is just with the young kid holding the flamingo.

Holding Bob and the younger kids behind this door trying to reach out to make a connection with this this Flamingo. I just think this is really powerful for me and I think it's really interesting in a sense this innate desire that we we must all have to connect with nature and the barriers that come up as well.

So you know for me it's quite a a really evocative image that sort of shows us the tensions and the desires and the things that we just, you know, it all comes together in this photo.

Where you know we want, we want that connection and we need to try and overcome those barriers. You know this is turning all quite a philosophical like uh you know, haha! Going off on one. I haven't even had a beer yet! haha, anyway so I think that's a really powerful image for me and I love that desire of the kids wanting to forge that connection and connect with this this Flamingo Bob.

The book's really good, the Project's really good and the photographer is amazing. Jasper Doest is well worth looking up if you don't already look at him.

So that's a very quick intro my first video looking at photo books that help inspire me. I've got a tons of books which I'll share as as we go along but that's the first and latest. So I hope that inspires you a little bit, let me know if there's any books that really inspires you and will help you go through this year put it in the comments. I'd love to check them out. I'm always looking at new photo books and new photographers. It's a really great thing to do so thanks for watching and I'll be sharing more other bits and pieces. Still got some Skoma videos to get out and loads of videos that are on the back burner that I'll get out to you and some new stuff to record in the year ahead so thanks again for watching and I'll see you soon "

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