Tag Archives: travel

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.

 

 

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.

Book Review: The Last Stop by Ryann Ford

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What started out as a humble Kickstarter project, has since grown to be a fully-realized photobook from powerHouse books. The Last Stop by Ryann Ford is a fantastic collection of parts of America that are disappearing: the humble highway rest stop. Ford set out to document these places before they were gone, much like a documentary historian who is frantically trying to preserve history; the fabric of what makes us who we are. This couldn’t be more true of the great American car culture of the mid-twentieth century, and who better to do it than a person named Ford.

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Ford laid out her project summary in late 2014, and her case was this: “Literally, before our eyes, rest stops are vanishing from the landscapes of America. All over the country, rest areas are losing the fight to commercial alternatives: drive-thrus at every exit and mega-sized travel centers offering car washes, wi-fi, grilled paninis and bladder-busting sized fountain drinks. They’re on the chopping block for many states, their upkeep giving way with tight highway budgets. And they’re not just being closed, they’re being demolished. “They’re just toilets and tables” you might say. But if you take a closer look, you will see that they are much more. They have been an oasis of green to walk your dog, have a picnic, study the map. For some, what was seen and read at rest stops could be all that was known of a region’s historical, archeological, geological, or cultural significance. Many people these days only know of rest stops as a blur from the car window. Many don’t know the historical significance of these quirky little roadside relics.”

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Raised in a Southern California mountain town so small it didn’t even have a stoplight, Ford had the freedom to explore and observe from a young age. At age 12, she took her first photo using her father’s old Pentax Spotmatic; at age 18 she enrolled in the renowned Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography.

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“When I moved from Southern California to Austin,” Ford recalls, “I had to move all of my belongings, so I drove. I had always wanted to make that Route 66 trip, so I tried to drive on it as much as I could from LA to Texas, which is actually kind of tough because so many sections of the road are gone now and at some points you’ll be driving on the pavement or have to go off on the dirt. I hadn’t really thought of the project at that point, but I think I saw a couple of the rest stops and that planted the seed. Then I got to Austin and became a commercial photographer. I shot a lot for Texas Monthly magazine and they would send me on assignments all over Texas, so I really got to see everything from Dallas to Houston, and San Antonio to all the small towns. I drove on a lot of the backroads, and that’s when I think I really started noticing them. There were just these cute little pull-offs, some of them don’t even have restrooms, it’s just a covered picnic table nestled back in the trees or out on this gorgeous prairie. A lot of them looked like they were from the 50s and 60s and I just love mid-century architecture and vintage design. I thought they could make for a really cool photo project.”

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The book’s design is well executed and the 10″ x 12″ trim size of the book gives ample space for the photos. Each rest stop shown in the book has a corresponding geo-tag location and a dot on an adjacent map of where it is located along her journey. In this collection of sites, Ford has created her own visual language, her own typography of this aspect of American culture. Much like projects that document and capture disappearing languages, iconic styles of architecture, and culture – With The Last Stop, Ford does far more than capture the remarkable, effective design of our nation’s road stops; she preserves a moment in the American travel experience when the journey was just as important as the destination itself.

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“The rest stops are more than just a place providing service to the public, they represent uniqueness in a world headed toward commercialization. While rest areas were originally designed to provide only the basic amenities of parking, bathroom, and picnic table, developers soon found within them the opportunity to reconnect people with the places they were traveling though, to add some humanity back to interstate travel. We can all relate to rest stops and what they represent as social and architectural icons of Americana. To me though, they are disappearing waysides of memories, anticipation and mystery of what the next one down the road will look like, and lastly they are a relevant benchmark in an era of bygone leisure travel.”


 

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The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside By Ryann Ford
Hardcover, 10 x 12 inches, 176 pages
ISBN: 978-1-57687-791-3

All images are reproduced with permission and are from The Last Stop by Ryann Ford, published by powerHouse Books.

You can purchase the book “The Last Stop” here, or see more of her work at her website here.