Photography et al
What am I looking for in photography? Images that penetrate the eye, engage the mind, and pierce the heart. Mark L. Power
Wikipedia: simulacra, from the Latin simulacrum which means “likeness, similarity”… by the late 19th century, simulacra had been regarded as an image without the substance or qualities of the original…
Old posts from my former blog, the Salt Mine, can be found in the archive section, from 2008-10.
A lot of photographers are making books these days, aided and abetted by such printing-on-demand sites as Blurb.com. You go onto the Blurb site and you’re immediately impressed how professional the book designs seem, especially when you consider the vast majority of the book makers are photographers, not book designers. In fact, it is fair to note that the design of these books is often as compelling as their content. This is not a necessarily a compliment; one school of thought is good book design, like Victorian children, should be seen, not noticed. The idea is design should enhance content not compete with it.
These are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind when I received my copy of “Humans of New York” by Brandon Stanton. Stanton is a young photographer who has energized the venerable genre of street photography with his portraits notable for their charm. He photographs strangers as if they are his friends, not objects to be scrutinized, and an important part of Stanton’s approach are his text captions, witty and mostly positive comments about those he encounters…
After months of posting the images on a very successful Tumblr site, Stanton decided to put out a hardcopy book, “The Humans of New York” which quickly became Amazon’s number one seller.
To put it succinctly, I found the book to be very disappointing. Talk about competition; in this case, the book’s design not only competes with these gentle portraits it swallows them whole. The result is a classic example of how bad design sabotages an artist’s work. Images of all sizes are frantically jammed together on the page as if they are caged animals trying to escape. The experience is more like a hip-hop video than a collection of still photographs.