Category Archives: book review

Of sexy cameras, W. Eugene Smith and Japan Exposures

W. Eugene Smith, Hitachi, Japan, 1962. Photograph by Kozo Amano

So I was dawdling around the web, looking at the sexy objects of desire flaunted shamelessly on Tokyo Camera Style, when I came across the above image of W. Eugene Smith standing on a wall adorned and surrounded by eight cameras of various descriptions.  Something about his pose, his outstretched gesticulating left arm being mimicked by a gesticulating lens in his right, the point of view from below … Well it’s just a cool photo, isn’t it?

Seems Tokyo Camera Style came upon the picture via Japan Exposures who quoted Jazz Loft Project Blog who said,

It was late in the year of 1961 when W. Eugene Smith and Carole Thomas traveled to Japan. Smith was hired via the fledgling  Japanese public relations firm Cosmo PR to produce photographs for a publication on behalf of the firm’s first client, Hitachi. This assignment, like Smith’s Pittsburgh project/expedition/ordeal, started out as a simple one that got complicated and ended up taking the better part of a year to complete. The end result appeared in 1963 as Japan . . . a chapter of image.

Which really is a long way round way of saying I saw this photo and I liked it 🙂

– Rory

“… the alchemy of light on film …”

by Ralph Gibson

“… Digital is a great way of transferring information, but digital imaging systems are not photography, because photography has to do with the alchemy of light on film. Photography creates a new informationthat wasn’t there before, whereas digital transfers information that is in front of you. Like the telephone can transfer my words to your ear …” – Ralph Gibson

I’m loving “Photo – wisdom” by Lewis Blackwell. Purchased in Dublin last week (I was supposed to buy shoes), it contains work by fifty photographers, and an interview with each of them. The book is big, and while there’s just three or four pieces from each photographer, they are beautifully produced and large. Oh, and each photographer chose the work to be shown.

I’ve had the book just a few days, so am not not nearly familiar enough with it to do a full review, but already I’d put it on any photography lovers wish list!

– Rory

Alec Soth’s top ten photo books

'Falls 26', 2005 by Alec Soth

Magnum photographer Alec Soth is blogging again with Little Brown Mushroom. His top ten photobooks of 2009 are reviewed here. They are predictably eclectic! His old blog was excellent, and different. A pity he stopped writing it, finishing with this

I’m hitting the road and hanging up the blog. Join me for a non-virtual visit in Memphis (Oct. 5th) and Atlanta (Oct. 11th). Otherwise, send me a letter – I’m sick of email.

I’ll leave with a poem:

When I Heard the Learned Astronomer
by Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

You can find a link to his old blog on his website, or just click here.

“Soth uses an 8*10 camera from the late 1980’s that makes almost painting like pictures. He follows the complicated process of using large-format camera and says he is lucky if he manages to make one or two exposures on a given day of shooting” (from Magnum Magnum).

– Rory