Category Archives: Book Review

Top Photo Books of 2017

I had the good fortune to review a number of great photo books this past year for Wobneb Magazine, F-Stop Magazine, and Vantage… and what would the end of the year be without a ‘Best Of 2017’ list? The past year has been eventful and insightful on many fronts – so my list of top books from my reviews covers a range of projects from the intimately personal to broad society.

My top choices are:

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Cig Harvey – You an Orchestra You a Bomb

Cig Harvey’s third monograph is a vibrant and bold book, capturing moments of awe, icons of the everyday, and life on the threshold between magic and disaster. The breathless moments of beauty in her images propel us to fathom the sacred in the split-seconds of everyday. A raw awareness of fragility permeates this work. Harvey’s moments captured in her camera speak to the temporal nature of life, and her intimate poetry weaves them together in this memoir of symbolism.

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Giles Duley – One Second of Light

Conflicts come and go, but their legacies remain. It takes courage to be an advocate for something greater than ourselves. It requires something more than just the absence of fear. Any fool can be fearless. The essence of courage comes from the best version of ourselves, and the strength to do the right thing, to do hard things for the lasting benefit of others. It takes this type of courage to photograph people caught in the effects of war, in hopes that the quiet pairing of empathetic images and words speaks louder than the bloody spectacle of war. Duley’s personal story is secondary to this subject, and yet it is also intimately intertwined.

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Kathy Shorr – SHOT: 101 Survivors of Gun Violence

Many of the gun-violence survivors in Shorr’s new book SHOT have recovered against odds, put their lives back together and now taking an active role in inviting a public back into the tough dialogue about American gun violence. Kathy Shorr depicts the determination of the human spirit. The survivors are together in themselves and more importantly they are together collectively. Their lives from this point forward are made of a new set of challenges but they know they are not taking on these challenges in isolation. Shorr’s SHOT gives us a chance to listen.

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Al Brydon – Based on a False Story

This psychological evaluation of one’s current self against one’s past self reveals what we know to be true — we are not who we once were. By examining our past self, we change not only who we were, but who we are now. Through the process of creating ‘False Story’, Brydon’s conversation with his past self and destruction of his original images has actually revealed glimpses of his present self. This gem from Another Place Press is one of several I reviewed this past year – keep your eye out for more great books from them in 2018.

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Lauren Greenfield – Generation Wealth

Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield is both a retrospective and an investigation into the subject of wealth over the last twenty-five years. Greenfield has traveled the world — from Los Angeles to Moscow, Dubai to China — bearing witness to the global boom-and-bust economy and documenting its complicated consequences. Provoking serious reflection, this book is not about the rich, but about the desire to be wealthy, at any cost.

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Mark Speltz – North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South

My review for this book gets special consideration for 2017. The review published at the end of December 2016, and set the tone for the coming year. A black man has served as a two-term president. People of color have held some of the highest offices in the government — yet the nation has not seen many issues of race and inequality disappear in the everyday lives of many Americans. But the overall feeling I got from North of Dixie is a combination of hope mixed with disappointment. It is my personal hope that people of different races, color or creed will see there is far more to be gained in life by working together and accepting each other for who we are. North of Dixie brings to light numerous lesser-known historic photographic images and illuminates the story of the civil rights movement in the American North and West. The book reveals the power of photography to preserve historical memory, impact social consciousness, and stimulate critical dialogue among everyone interested in social justice, human rights, American history, the African American civil rights movement, Black studies, and photojournalism. And hopefully, by better understanding the failures of our past we can avoid the pitfalls of repeating it. North of Dixie certainly goes a long way to guide the path.

Cig Harvey – You An Orchestra You A Bomb

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Cig Harvey’s third monograph is a vibrant and bold book, capturing moments of awe, icons of the everyday, and life on the threshold between magic and disaster. The breathless moments of beauty in her images propel us to fathom the sacred in the split-seconds of everyday. A raw awareness of fragility permeates this work.

I cannot fully understand the life events that take a woman through her youth and into middle age. However, I am a parent, a husband, and am squarely in middle age. My wife is a writer, and has introduced me to a number of poets. This expansion of my previously limited knowledge of great writers has made an immense difference – and thus, Harvey’s book spoke to me. The rawness of Harvey’s written passages and relevance to where she finds herself in life struck home. But you don’t need to be a peer of Harvey to get the drift. She photographs and writes with the passion of a Beat poet. To quote, and slightly edit, the poet Neal Cassady, “One should write, as nearly as possible, as if she were the first person on earth and was humbly and sincerely putting on paper that which she saw and experienced and loved and lost; what her passing thoughts were and her sorrows and desires.” Harvey does not hold back – with understated power, she records her broad experiences with the world. Harvey’s moments captured in her camera speak to the temporal nature of life, and her intimate poetry weaves them together in this memoir of symbolism.

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“In my 20s I wear vintage dresses every day. / 1940s ball gowns to get coffee. Fringed flappers to the post office.  / They are itchy and smell of someone else’s transgressions. But I am fearless and my life is a photograph. / When I turn forty, I retire them all in favor of tight jeans and high boots. / I put one thousand dresses in a room upstairs. / A room now a galaxy of velvet, taffeta, crinoline, lavender, silk, fur, cashmere, magenta, chartreuse, and moths like stars in the night sky. / I like the idea of the moths taking back the clothes of these women, slowly making dust of our stories.”

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Cig Harvey’s hugely successful books You Look At Me Like An Emergency (2012) and Gardening At Night (2015) both sold out rapidly. Her photographs have been exhibited widely and are in the permanent collections of major museums, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. She has been a nominee for John Gutmann fellowship and the Santa Fe Prize, and a finalist for the BMW Prize at Paris Photo and for the Prix Virginia, an international photography prize for women. You Look At Me Like An Emergency was first exhibited at The Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway. Cig’s devotion to visual storytelling has lead to innovative international campaigns and features with New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Japan, Kate Spade, and Bloomingdales.

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Design: Deb Wood
ISBN 978 90 5330 893 6
Format: 22.5 x 22.5 cm
Hardbound with cloth cover
144 pages with 72 photos in full colour
Schilt Publishing, Amsterdam

To order a copy of the book from the publisher, please visit their website here

In the Country of Stones by Nicolas Blandin

Poetic visual narrative of Armenia

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

Busy lives being what they are — I did not have the opportunity to sit down with In the Country of Stones when it published in June of 2017. My copy arrived, and time slipped by. Shame on me. Nicolas Blandin’s book is a wonderful collection of images made when he travelled to Armenia in 2013–2014 after being captivated by the land and its people on a previous visit.

The landscapes Blandin captured are beautiful in their stillness. The layers of history, memories and culture appear in icons made visible. Telephone poles, highway ruins, and ancient carvings all evoke an ancient Christian past, and the Soviet government that ruled there for over 70 years is recognized as well. Both exist, at least visually, in a harmony knit together by the people of Armenia. Blandin comments on this aspect of the people in the book: “We had heard about the legendary Armenian hospitality, but we were still humbled by the level of openness and generosity we encountered. During those three weeks on the road we had the strange feeling that we had reunited with distant relatives…”

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

The mix of images in the book include almost as many portraits as images of the land itself. Yet I undoubtedly consider the book to be about Blandin’s journey to this raw, poetically beautiful place. The placement of the images within the book are such that one image leads the viewer into the next with a feeling of wonder, and time seems to fold back and forth on itself. A portrait of teenage boys wearing contemporary clothes is juxtaposed with an image of a house interior with a metal stove that could easily be from the early 20th century. Massive Soviet brutalist architecture follows an interior photo of a monastery from the 9th century complete with early Christian iconography. And each person shown in the book gazes directly at the camera, and thus right at the viewer — hinting at the openness and familiarity Blandin felt.

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

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© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

The book sold out its first edition 150 copy print run, not surprisingly. Much like many of the other editions published by Another Place Press, the book’s size is very personal in nature; lending to a meaningful interaction between the images and the viewer. The photos are printed beautifully on uncoated paper, which gives them a warmth and softness without sacrificing clarity.

© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

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© Nicolas Blandin www.nicolasblandin.com

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Blandin speaks to the backstory of the project, as well as the historic narrative of Armenia and how it frames his work in those contexts. He closes his statement in the book by saying, “The images in this book are the result of a personal journey. They are partial, subjective, selective, even oblique. They do not amount to a definitive vision of the country. How could they even presume to record a nation in such a state of flux? In my photographs, I am seeking to tell my own story, as well as the stories of others, as honestly as I can. Rather than documenting the history and the landscape, my approach to both is rather more poetic and lyrical. And yet, to borrow Jocelyn Lee’s words, photographs, unlike paintings or drawings, remain “mysterious but irrefutable anchors to a real event in space and time.”

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In the County of Stones — Nicolas Blandin

76 pp / 150 x 190mm
Perfect Bound
Fedrigoni & GF Smith papers:
350gsm Colorplan cover
170gsm Uncoated text
Edition of 150
APP011
ISBN 978–1–9997424–0–9

 


Nicolas Blandin is a self-taught French photographer based in Annecy, France. Winner of the 2017 Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Awards, his work has been featured in various publications both printed and online. Besides freelancing for editorial and commercial clients, Nicolas is working on several long-term personal projects. His first book entitled “In the Country of Stones” was published by Another Place Press in June 2017.

Feel free to get in touch for commissions, collaborations, print inquiries or just to say hi.

Another Place Press is a small independent publisher interested in contemporary photography that explores landscape in the widest sense, covering themes which include land, place, journey, city and environment — from the remotest corners of the globe to the centre of the largest cities. Iain Sarjeant is the founder and editor of Another Place, and Another Place Press.

 

 

ObjectImage by Sarah Tulloch

New narratives born from a collection of personal and public images

ObjectImage introduces British artist Sarah Tulloch’s idiosyncratic approach to working with the photographic image. Tulloch uses photo collections left by her grandfather and daily newspaper imagery to explore themes that reflect on our shared habits of consuming photographic media. From the social history of documenting family to the juxtaposition of recycled media imagery she probes and questions both object and image to create new and beguiling works. 

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Honey Boo Boo Landscape

The book is laid out and composed to give Tulloch’s work deserved attention. The placement of both full images and details throughout the book allows the reader to view the works at various distances – and really get a chance to appreciate the craft and care taken to artfully construct these ‘new’ images. Shaggy fibers from rough cut edges and the smooth scalloped borders of the original prints contrast the other; layers of some collages are distinctly apparent and lend a tactile depth to the object.

“You have to have that point where the image
is released from its original use—value for it to become something else and for that imaginative process to do its work.”
Sarah Tulloch

Plant Boy

In Faultline, and the subsequent Cut Series and Postcards, Tulloch’s re-works her grandfather’s collection of photographs, slides and cine films. She describes her Cut Series “as an investigation into the slippery nature of memory and the photographs mediation between worlds that are obfuscated from one another. The material fabric of the photograph and its’ possibilities for ‘re formation’ are the material of my working practice.” Her photomontages allow her to re-focus the media, re-compose the image and ultimately re-find and re-purpose the photographic subject. 

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from Postcard Series, Boy Dog – Detail

Tulloch’s new work Newspaper Heads continues themes of transience and entropy but shifts the stage to public and contemporary events. Tulloch was drawn to the unexpected juxtapositions of subject matter in daily newspapers; overleaf from images of human tragedy are adverts for a new car. She reflects and re-presents this image culture and as with earlier work re-defines the photographic matter in the process. 

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So many artists/photographers are creating work by mining the digital archives of the internet – whether it be appropriated news or mass media images, curated flotsam and jetsam of personal photographs online, or the like. Tulloch’s personally inspired work (she inherited her grandfather’s  extensive collection of photographs) in ObjectImage was made with thoughtful intent. Unlike the lucky happenstance of found photos that incidentally speak to an artist’s tastes and oeuvre – Tulloch’s cuts are not random; rather there is a clear choice to show, or not show, elements of the original images. The physical manipulation and technique of collage are not new, but her work feels fresh. The curation of her reinvented images, along with the accompanying introduction by curator and writer Matthew Hearn, and the interview with photographer  Marjolaine Ryley, really gives the reader a sense of Tulloch’s foundation and philosophy behind her creative process, and the images carry her new narratives forward.

ObjectImage by Sarah Tulloch
128 pages; 7 x 9 ½  inches (17.7 x 24 cm)
ISBN-13: 9781942084372


Sarah Tulloch holds a First Class honors degree from the Bristol School of Art and a Design and Distinction, Master of Fine Arts from Newcastle University. She concentrates on a close-range investigation of found photographs as both objects with specific material qualities and images in themselves. Her book, published by Daylight Books, is supported by the Arts Council England. Tulloch has exhibited in the UK and internationally, including Plus Arts Projects in London, Motorcade/FlashParade in Bristol, Baltic 39 in Newcastle upon Tyne, and Bergby Konst Centre, Sweden. Tulloch lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

For more information about Sarah Tulloch, please visit: www.sarahtulloch.co.uk

To order a copy of ObjectImage, visit Daylight Books here

Peace in the Valley by Saleem Ahmed

Peace in the Valley is a wonderful image collection of vignettes of the Bolivian landscape by photographer Salem Ahmed. It is a visual love affair with people, places and scenes presented in soft, colorful tones, and thoughtful compositions that create a meaningful dialog between photographer and the city of Nuestra Señora de la Paz, or just La Paz for short. 

Entropy and pragmatic utility stand side-by-side in the images Ahmed presents for the viewer’s pleasure. Like a shabby chic dressed model on a runway, La Paz is a patchwork of urban fabric draped over its streets and buildings; adorned with graffiti, power lines, and retention fences that lure our gaze.

His images felt to me as if they had genuine sentimental value. These were studies of a city, as well as a remembrance to be kept. While Ahmed’s introduction to the book gives one an idea of the setting and what it means to him personally, the images carry the viewer through to the end.

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“The city is loud, dirty, and chaotic. Traffic laws are merely suggestions, as black clouds of exhaust fumes blanket rush-hour gridlocks and zebra-striped crosswalks. The opening-and-closing of sliding doors on taxi minivans, and the rumble of diesel engines from repurposed military buses reverberates through the streets.”

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“La Paz is a city that has consistently broke my heart and challenged my physical and mental toughness. It is also another home to me. Despite my frustrations, I continued to return to La Paz to try and understand a place that didn’t always make sense. These photographs serve as a tribute to the beautiful people of Bolivia and my continued search for the meaning of peace.”

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Peace in the Valley allows the viewer to walk through La Paz and see what Ahmed has seen – a beautiful city that might appear imperfect on the surface, but when we soak up the details and enjoy the scenes, we too can fall in love.


For more information, please visit Ahmed’s website, instagram, or publisher site.  Peace In The Valley is one of their latest releases, and these coveted books by Another Place Press are amazingly affordable.

 

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60 pp / 200 x 150mm
Perfect Bound
Fedrigoni paper:
300gsm cover, 170gsm text
Edition of 150
APP010
ISBN 978-0-9935688-9-3


Saleem Ahmed is a photographer, writer and educator based in Philadelphia.

Another Place Press is a small independent publisher interested in contemporary photography that explores landscape in the widest sense, covering themes which include land, place, journey, city and environment – from the remotest corners of the globe to the centre of the largest cities. Iain Sarjeant is the founder and editor of Another Place, and Another Place Press.

Book review: Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia by Jeremy Horner | Goff Books

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Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia, authored and photographed by geologist Jeremy Horner has been awarded the Silver award in the Best Coffee Table Book category by the 29th Annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. The IBPA celebrates vibrant independent publishers through the Benjamin Franklin Awards for excellence in book editorial and design and is one of the highest national honors for independent book publishers.

This is a journey of spiritual as well as visual enlightenment, as the reader traces the origins of Buddhism and following its evolutionary paths from its birthplace at Bodh Gaya, India to northeast Asia, along the Silk Road through China, down to Sri Lanka, and across to southeast Asia.

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From its origins at Bodh Gaya on the plains of northern India, the book leads the reader through travels up into the Himalaya of Ladakh, where Buddhism thrived and split in the five different sects. The journey takes us to Nepal, historically a receptive home for Buddhism, to Tibet in Exile in Dharamshala, and to Sikkim and Bhutan paying homage to the sacred sites of Mahayana Buddhism along the way. Maps with reference to the photographs will guide you along the routes.

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Then we venture along the silk route into the mountainous region of Xinjiang in China, and to the largest monastery in the Buddhist world at Labrang in Gansu Province, home to the Yellow Hat sect. We visit the Longman Caves and the legendary Shaolin Monastery, with its extraordinary Kung Fu monks, before eventually embarking for Korea and Japan to trace Tantric Buddhism. There we sample the tranquility of Zen temples and the fresh mountain and sea air of the most sacred pilgrim sites.

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We follow the story of how the once precarious belief emerged as Theravada Buddhism and found a haven in Sri Lanka before progressing eastwards to Burma, and on into southeast Asia, as far as central Java.

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We explore the exquisite temples of Luang Prabang in Laos, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Sukhothai in Thailand where Buddhist art reached a certain zenith. Finally we traverse the Tibetan plateau to reach the fabled capital of Lhasa, with its spiritual center of the Jokhang Temple and the iconic Potala Palace, the abandoned home of HH the Dalai Lama. Maps with reference to the photographs will guide you along the routes. The illuminating text by Denis Gray provides an authoritative perspective of Buddhism in 21st century Asia and assists in navigating the reader through the book’s journey.


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About the author: 

Nomadic by nature, and as a qualified geologist, Jeremy wandered into the Himalaya in 1987, teaching himself photography. His work from the Nepali Himalaya was immediately published in Hong Kong to high acclaim, sparking a romantic career which has taken him to over a hundred countries across the globe.

 

To purchase a copy of Nirvana: The Spread of Buddhism Through Asia  please visit: Goff Books website

Havana: Light Beyond Vision by Andrew Child

A Visual Exploration through Color Infrared Panoramic Photography

For the past several years, Boston based photographer Andrew Child has been traveling off of the beaten path in Havana, Cuba and its surrounding countryside, capturing rare images that explore its many hidden gems. Using his truly unique approach allows the photographer to reveal sunlight that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. Over sixty of these vivid panoramic images have been compiled into a 136-page, 13” x 11” coffee table book, Havana: Light Beyond Vision. With captions offering insight into the places, people, culture and history, from Hemingway’s seaside fishing village of Cojímar to Havana’s bustling avenidas, each image comes to life with a dreamlike quality that mirrors the mysteries of this island nation.

The recent expansion of permitted travel to Cuba has allowed many people to see this beautiful country and its iconic architecture and culture. Many in Cuba fear that the influx of visitors will be a double edged sword. While the country will enjoy the benefits of a blooming tourism industry, the rush to modernize and accommodate this influx will likely lead to the erosion of the culture and environment that was preserved for decades. The views that Child offers us may be some of the last remaining surveys of unchanged sights that would’ve been seen by the likes of Ernest Hemingway in the early twentieth century.

Child offers us both a documentary catalog of beautiful scenes around Havana, and a unique way in which to view the world around us via a wider spectrum of light. The advent of digital photography has placed many tools of the trade to the back burner, like solarized images, high speed film with its grainy images, and infrared film. Child uses a digital process, that he describes in the book, creating the look of traditional infrared color film, and panoramic views combined. 

“Havana has a unique blend of Cuban hospitality, beautiful neocolonial architecture, Caribbean sensuality, and economic potential that keeps pulling me back. It’s also a country in transition – with one foot in Cold War socialism and one in free market capitalism – the perfect setting for exploring vision, perception, and misperception. The point of this book isn’t to offer a stance on the complex relationship between the United States and Cuba. Instead, I share this book with the public in the hopes of shedding some light, both literal and figurative, on our neighbors to the south.” explains Child.

In his acknowledgements, Child humbly gives credit to his Santa Fe workshop inspirations, and supportive friends and mentors, including venerable photographer Joyce Tenneson. His images do not come off as cliché, and he includes views of Cuba that are not covered in the typical coffee table book one might see on average bookstore shelves. Child’s self-published book notably adds to the catalog of photo books depicting Cuba’s beautiful landscape, architecture and culture.

Havana: Light Beyond Vision by Andrew Child
ISBN: 9780997877700
136-pages
13″ x 11″, hardcover
©2016 Andrew Child


Andrew Child is a freelance commercial and fine art photographer based in Boston, MA. Over the past thirty years, he has compiled a body of work that comprises subject matter ranging from infrared panoramas to portraiture of individuals with special needs. For additional information about Andrew Child’s work, and “Havana: Light Beyond Vision” please visit his website.


This is an edited version of the review published by F-Stop Magazine in March 2017.

Through Darkness to Light by Jeanine Michna-Bales

Look for the Grey Barn Out Back. Underground Railroad Station with Tunnel Leading to Another Conductor’s House; Centerville, Indiana

They left during the middle of the night – oftentimes carrying little more than the knowledge that moss grows on the north side of trees. An estimated 100,000 slaves between 1830 and the end of The Civil War in 1865 chose to embark on this journey of untold hardships in search of freedom. They moved in constant fear of being killed outright or recaptured then returned and beaten as an example of what would happen to others who might choose to run. Under the cover of darkness, ‘fugitives’ traveled roughly 20 miles each night traversing rugged terrain while enduring all the hardships that Mother Nature could bring to bear. Occasionally, they were guided from one secret, safe location to the next by an ever-changing, clandestine group known as the Underground Railroad. Whether they were slaves trying to escape or free blacks and whites trying to help, both sides risked everything for the cause of freedom. From the cotton plantations just South of Natchitoches, Louisiana all the way north to the Canadian border, this series of photographs can help us imagine what the long road to freedom may have looked like as seen through the eyes of one of those who made this epic journey.

Moonrise over Northern Ripley County. Overlooking Southern Decatur County, Indiana

Much like fellow Hoosier Michna-Bales, I grew up hearing about how Indiana played a role in the Underground Railroad. I recently found myself travelling at night through some of the same towns listed in Michna-Bales’ photographic journey. Both Richmond and rural Centerville, Indiana appeared and disappeared in the headlights of my car while travelling recently on a clear, starry night. Driving these lonely country roads made me think about trying to navigate those same hills, valleys, and rivers with only the stars as a guide. As she mentions in her introduction, Michna-Bales’ experience of shooting her photos at night made her think about how she felt history surrounding her, and how strange and forbidding these remote places must have felt to the people making the journey. These words were on my mind as I travelled silently through the same countryside as so many had done before me.

Decision to Leave. Magnolia Plantation on the Cane River, Louisiana

Michna-Bales photographed numerous locations along a journey from Louisiana to Ontario, Canada. Her mysterious, haunting images of Underground Railroad locations are printed in the book on black paper stock, which intensifies that feeling of strangeness and uncertainty. The images emerge from the darkness and give even greater importance to the light captured during her long exposures. That same light was the guide and the hope that so many oppressed people were drawn by, and moved toward freedom. Light plays such an important role in this book. It is important enough that Michna-Bales chose the last image in the series, the sunrise in Canada, to be the only daylight image – symbolizing the final destination and realized freedom.

Hidden Passageway. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Eagle Hollow from Hunter’s Bottom. Just across the Ohio River, Indiana, 2014

I was especially glad to be able to review this book during Black History Month, and bring attention to this project and Michna-Bales’ photography. The book includes text by Fergus M. Bordewich, Robert F. Darden, Eric R. Jackson, and Andrew J. Young. Young is a former congressman, diplomat, and member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a key strategist and negotiator in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Through Darkness to Light is a wonderful collection of researched historic documents, engaging photographs and text that creates an insightful narrative to events that occurred over 170 years ago. When one considers how many people are still fleeing oppression and moving toward freedom around the world, the Underground Railroad is just as poignant today when seen through the lens of present day social injustice. The desire for freedom and the interracial assistance of others was, and is, an important lesson to be told and retold.

Freedom. Canadian soil, Ontario, 2014

Through Darkness to Light by Jeanine Michna-Bales
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press (March 21, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616895659
ISBN-13: 978-1616895655


Jeanine Michna-Bales is an award winning photographer based in Dallas, Texas. To see more work, visit her website at http://www.jmbalesphotography.com. To purchase a copy of Through Darkness to Light, visit Amazon.com

This is an edited version of the article originally published in February 2017 in F-Stop Magazine.

Book Review: Palm Springs: The Good Life Goes On by Nancy Baron

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Nancy Baron is a documentary filmmaker and photographer who lives in Palm Springs, Calif. In Palm Springs: The Good Life Goes On, she picks up where she left off from her 2014 book, The Good Life: Palm Springs, documenting her community of mid century modern enthusiasts. The collective community of self-proclaimed modernists are committed to the mid century modern lifestyle and the preservation of its architecture. Their homes, cars, and clothes pay homage to this carefree post-World War II time in US history that glows warmly in their vintage rear view mirrors. These informal images casually document the carefree Palm Springs lifestyle as though captured in passing, in the seemingly effortless way that most things happen in Palm Springs.

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“The dreamy Palm Springs vibe washes over the traveler at the first sight from land or air of the vast windmill farm sprouting from the Southern California desert, surrounding the town like guards at the gate to paradise.”

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In the book, Hugh Kaptur, an American architect of mid century modern residences and buildings throughout the Coachella Valley, writes: “Once after a meeting with William Holden, we stepped outside my office and I asked him why, with houses all over the world, was he settling in Palm Springs. Bill replied, ‘because the air is like velvet.’”

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Baron’s photographs of the interiors and exteriors of the homes and buildings in Palm Springs evoke a sense of instant nostalgia – even for the newly initiated fans of this iconic design movement. One cannot help notice the influence mid century modern design has had recently in popular American culture. From high-end reproduction design furniture like Design Within Reach, publications like Dwell Magazine, and the home furnishings featured in Crate and Barrel catalogs – Americans have fallen in love all over again with mid century modern design. This makes paging through ‘The Good Life Goes On’ like sneaking a peek inside 1950s architects’ homes, or getting a guest role on Mad Men. The style Baron brings to the page is everything Palm Springs has to offer; sun drenched lawns, vintage automobiles, manicured-minimalist landscaping, and an invitation to the lifestyle that has so much to offer.

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For me, Baron’s photos bring back nostalgic memories of my grandparent’s house. It was a modest mid century modern home, painted green with a sun porch built out of decorative concrete blocks, with patterns that looked like flower petals when the open sections of the blocks intersected. Their Danish modern stereo cabinet sat in the entryway with geometric side lamps making soft shadows on the imitation terrazzo floor below, while a bakelite kitchen clock quietly hummed as time slowly slipped by. Their house sat unchanging for decades, a testament to the enduring, timelessness of the way they lived – much like the homes in Baron’s photos. They sit like time capsules, yet still retain the feel of homes that are lived in and have personal, human aspects about them… soccer balls amidst the greenery, price tags on the candlesticks, and worn doormats gracing the entryway to their ‘American dream’.
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Palm Springs > The Good Life Goes On (2016) by Nancy Baron
Hardcover 8.8 x 8.8 inches
120 pages, 63 color illustrations

To purchase a copy of Palm Springs: The Good life Goes On, please visit Amazon.com

For more information about Nancy Baron and her portfolio of projects, visit her website: http://www.nancybaron.com/


Nancy Baron’s background in documentary filmmaking has led to her current dedication to fine art documentary photography. She documents the world nearby, mostly in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, where she lives. Baron’s work is held in public and private collections and has been exhibited in galleries across the United States. Her work has been published in many notable magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Mother Jones, Photo District News, American Photo and California Homes Magazine. Photographs from her previous book The Good Life > Palm Springs (Kehrer, 2014) were exhibited in a solo show at the dnj Gallery in Santa Monica, among other venues.

Based on a False Story by Al Brydon

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What was old is new again – A conversation with the past

A drawer with rolls of exposed film sat quietly for years. Every once in awhile, Al Brydon would nose about in that drawer, then shut it and forget about them again. But one day he didn’t shut the drawer. “I couldn’t tell you why”, Brydon recalls. “When it’s time it’s time, I guess. The rolls of film suddenly became a way of having a conversation with my past self. I just needed fifteen or so years to realise it. Who wouldn’t want to get into a time machine?”

Brydon took on the chance of obliterating the images taken years before. The fruitful happenstance results of re-exposing those rolls of film were well worth the risk.  While the number of chances for good double exposures was very high, taken amongst roughly between 500 and 600 frames, Brydon states, “The hit rate for usable images was low. There’s only so much serendipity one person can muster it seems.”

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The images in Based on a False Story are a wonderful mix of beautiful double-exposed portraits of old friends and new, juxtaposed landscapes, and tactile images of balanced geometric shapes and forms that construct dreamlike scenes with silhouetted human forms in the distance, or trees forming a horizon line within the portrait of a young man. The images draw in the viewer and evoke a sense of recalling past places and people affected by the passage of time. ‘False Story’ is Brydon’s second book published through Another Place Press this year, and rounds out a full year of marvelous publications from this small-but-mighty publisher.

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Brydon has worked with double exposed film in other projects, including a project with California based photographer J.M Golding. Brydon and Golding swapped rolls of film each other had shot in their respective haunts, and the resulting project, “Tales from a non-existent land”, have a strong influence for this new project. Both projects may be born from a specific type of photographic technique, but both also transcend and speak of something more than the photographic process itself. Brydon has taken it even further by addressing the landscape of the physical and metaphysical worlds.

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Brydon has described his process of working on his landscape work through the analogy of listening; “The dead sing songs, and I am trying to learn how to hear them.” With consideration to all the occurrences man has taken to alter the physical landscape surrounding him, Brydon listens and tries to interpret the history of the land, both past and present. In this way, ‘False Story’ is also a process of connecting one’s past and present. This applies to the personal as well as the physical. Brydon says, “Some of the last photographs I had of one of my best friends were hidden in the rolls somewhere and I was worried about losing them. As it turned out, one of these particular photographs became the most successful in terms of delivering exactly what I was trying to convey. But I had no idea what was on the films really. It was more about a feeling than any compositional considerations. I tried to imagine the younger Al and I walking together while I was making the photographs. What would we have talked about? Would we have even liked each other? We are two extremely different people after all. I just walked and went to places that felt right. There were no rules and no deadlines. I was in the enviable position of freedom within the confines of a two dimensional medium and a limited number of rolls of film.”

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When I asked if ‘False Story’ feels like departure from the majority of the landscape work he has been creating, Brydon said, “Maybe a slight departure… I’d like to say everything I do is well thought out and totally intentional, but this is a falsehood. I make the work, then work out why as I go along. In this instance the process did inform the end result. I was aware there would be some photographs on there I would have liked to see without the addition of another frame over the top. There’s a sadness to the work, but it’s necessary, and as it should be. But the world happens to be immensely beautiful, and I hope I’ve at least conveyed some of that beauty in the photographs.”

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From all the various types of films stored in that drawer, Brydon had to impose some order for the purpose of the project. “Because I was working with different films and due to the chaotic nature of the work I wanted a uniform aesthetic. They were scanned and converted to mono with slight adjustments here and there. I also added the scratches but this was done by literally kicking the negatives around in my cellar. The act of re-exposing the negs was a destructive one and I wanted to continue that destructive process after I’d got the processed films back from the lab. I knew once the films had been processed and the work finished that effectively it would be the end of the conversation. I’m not sure about the long term effects of the work yet. I’m interested to see how I feel about the photographs in a year or so.  I did however keep one film back. This will be re-exposed in another fifteen years so I can have one more stern chat with myself.  I will be 55 years old.”

This psychological evaluation of one’s current self against one’s past self reveals what we know to be true – we are not who we once were. By examining our past self, we change not only who we were, but who we are now. Through the process of creating ‘False Story’, Brydon’s conversation with his past self and destruction of his original images has actually revealed glimpses of his present self. We can only assume that his current work will foretell the work to be created in 15 more years – when he will re-discover who he is, and was, anew.

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Based on a False Story by Al Brydon
© 2016 – published by Another Place Press
http://anotherplacepress.bigcartel.com/
52 pp / 210 x 150mm
Perfect Bound
Fedrigoni & GF Smith papers:
350gsm Colorplan cover, 170gsm Uncoated text
ISBN 978-0-9935688-8-6


Al Brydon is a photographer based in the North of the UK. He is less tall than he seems on the internet. To see more work and projects, visit his website: http://www.al-brydon.com/

Another Place Press is a small independent publisher interested in contemporary photography that explores landscape in the widest sense, covering themes which include land, place, journey, city and environment – from the remotest corners of the globe to the centre of the largest cities. Iain Sarjeant is the founder and editor of Another Place, and Another Place Press.