Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photo Books In The Night...

What I often find particularly troubling in these digital times is the rapidity with which photographs are currently viewed, appreciated and replaced, like some kind of speed dating service, or wine tasting- immediately spit out once hitting the palette. Particularly ironic since we have supposedly now entered what some are calling the golden era of photography books (both commercial and privately published).

Back in the seventies, photo books were studied and revered as objects that withstood the test of time. Not just mere benchmarks of style, they were unique cultural icons of their particular era- like long playing albums, except rarer, and therefore treasured.

Given today's rapid, transitory viewing of the plethora of images available online, the quality of photography books (in terms of both aesthetics and reproduction) is still remarkably quite high, and in many cases, even better. But they can often pass before us under appreciated, undervalued, and in the case of many independent publications, often unseen by a public already looking beyond to tomorrow's menu offerings. Somehow the very essence of photography has been undermined- the fact that it is a technology raised to an art form that specializes in recording the past for our continued study and enjoyment in the present, and well into the future...

No, I'm not suggesting a return to the Luddite, halcyon days of yore, it's just that sometimes it's not only nice, but necessary to unhook from the technology which not only unites us, but often serves to separate us from seeing and feeling that which we seek to understand. Sometimes (sometimes) things just take... time.

BTW- Speaking of photography books- you can find out about independently published ones at Independent Photo Book, and catch up on the classics at Photo Book Club. And Flak Photo is currently running a photo book discount via photo-eye.


sharyn said...

A very well thought out message, as always.

Stan B. said...

Thanks- fortunately, I get called on 'em when they aint.

Matt Johnston said...


Another great post and I completely agree with you.

I always find buying books and having them on my shelf as a way of stopping the onslaught of images online. It frustrates me that I will never see some great little books (particularly indie as you mention), but without more physical, generative events, this will undoubtedly continue.