Book Reviews #1 – Harbutt, Callahan, Pinkhassov, Meyerowitz

Pile of books

So I finally managed to write some short photography book reviews. I’m highly interested if these are books that are new to you and if they sound interesting, or if you know them: do you share my opinion?

Charles Harbutt – Departures and Arrivals

This is kind of a retrospective showing 40 years of Harbutt’s work, edited by himself. I guess I wouldn’t have picked the book from the shelve – I was glad enough to attend a workshop with Alex Webb who advised me to take a look at it. An amazingly both rough and emotional style of photography unfolded in front of me that I would not have dated ranging from the 50s. I guess some of these pictures were way ahead of their time if they were published in the years they are dated in the book. Quite astonishing.

Harry Callahan – Harry Callahan: Color

Harry Callahan is a geographical colleague of Harbutt – and another name Alex handed over to me in order to develop my photography. In the workshop I tried to produce vividness of colors using deep shadows and warm highlights of Stockholm’s beautiful and hour long available evening light. I guess Callahan was using this technique slightly more successful than I did. It’s great to see him balancing the difficult lighting and producing intuitively touching images. It’s also great to see color street photography from the middle 50s. Comparing the style to photographers I am more familiar with I would say they feel like a mix between Saul Leiter and Joel Meyerowitz. The examples I mentioned are only the ones I found the most interesting to me. There are lots of styles he experimented with that you can find in that book. Amazing read.

Gueorgui Pinkhassov – Sightwalk

Another result of the workshop, although this book was not meant to improve my photographic journey but someone elses. I couldn’t resist getting it anyways ;-). I was totally impressed by the pictures and the presentation in the book. It’s a well designed experience in a kind of immersive way: semi-transparent pages, extraordinary binding, haptic surfaces. Actually the pictures are so impressive that this extraordinary happening does not get in the way of them. His style is hard to describe – if I were to use comparisons I’d say his work is a mix somewhere between Moriyama and David Alan Harvey’s style in “Divided Soul”. Mind-blowing.

Colin Westerbek, Joel Meyerowitz

Looking through photography books is always a learning process for me. I’m quite familiar with Meyerowitz’s work. This retrospective book is still worth the read since it shows his pictures accompanied by his own statements on his photographic journey. Sentences like “I used the parades as a way to overcome my natural shyness” surprised and inspired me since they show that his smooth style of taking street photographs actually needed to be developed and was not something that was natural for him from the beginning. That’s only one example of many great insights concerning his journey as a photographer that make this book worth the read even if you would know every single picture he published.

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