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Recommended Book

Discussion in 'General Photography Discussion' started by beakhammer, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. beakhammer

    beakhammer Premium Member

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    I recently checked this book out of the library and I'd recommend it to any photographer, not just street photographers. "On Street Photography and the Poetic Image" By Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, published by the Aperture Foundation. The book is full of excellent photos by these two photographers, and a few by other photographers that they find inspiring. Each image is accompanied by a few paragraphs of text discussing what went into the images and general thought-processes and techniques that go into their work. This is not one of those tedious how-to books that rehashes the same old rules of thumb and hackneyed aestheticism. Instead it is a selection of the core ideas and experiences of a couple of very talented photographers, along with really great images from decades of work. I haven't finished the book yet, but so far I like it a lot. The book toggles back and forth between comments by this husband and wife team, so it also has the advantage of presenting two points of view. It just provides a taste of a few ways of approaching the kind of exploratory photography that a lot of Fuji-X users like to do. It's a small book, but a good one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
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  2. Illumidata

    Illumidata Premium Member

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    At the risk of sounding like some kind of photo-groupie, I think Alex Webb is a genius - he's responsible for one of my favourite images ever, attached and, I believe, included in the book, which I will now have to track down. Thanks @beakhammer for bringing this to our attention. I'll echo the sentiment that he applies the broadest possible definition to the term "street photography".
    5AF5D0E8-4BC0-45A5-A28F-B90D030A5420-210-0000001EF6D63077.jpeg
     
  3. JRJ

    JRJ Well-Known Member

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    That's an amazing image. Are those guys being arrested? I guess that would make it an arresting image. Ha ha. Do you know the story behind it?
     
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  4. FredGUnn

    FredGUnn Well-Known Member

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    I actually have a copy signed by both of them that I purchased direct from Aperture, and it's a great book. Aperture frequently will sell signed copies of new books without any mark up (of course without any discount either) over retail price so it's often worth checking either their site or Magnums:
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    I'm a total Alex Webb groupie too, have several of his books signed, and have a signed photo of his Oaxaca cotton candy image hanging in my kitchen, purchased during the last Magnum 6x6 sale:
    [​IMG]

    If you missed it, try to track down the July 2017 issue of Pacific Standard magazine. It featured new work by Alex Webb, Mark Power, Peter Van Agtmael, and others. Alex had a few great images in the photo essay about Houston (pre-flood obviously) like this one:
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    Here's a link to the whole article:
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  5. beakhammer

    beakhammer Premium Member

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    Yes, this image is in the book. Alex describes how he was driving around the border area during a time when a lot of people were walking in from Mexico (a lot fewer make this crossing now than then). He had photographed a number of typical arrests of groups of 25 people at a time, and while the photos were serviceable from a Journalistic perspective, he didn't feel that they carried enough of the feeling of the scene. Then he saw this little helicopter and some distant figures in the flower field, stopped the car, and ran over to get this shot.

    I think that Alex was looking for a shot that resonated with the over-arching themes of immigration and the American Dream, with people's lives, and how these are so tied to the happenstance of where you were born, and not just shots showing the particularities of an arrest process. I think he wanted a shot that showed the surreal quality inherent in the cultural osmosis happening on the borders of Mexico and the USA. That's my take anyway, and this shot gets all that in a powerful and poetic way that still manages to stay aloof from taking a political position or making overt judgements. I have a thing about resonance in photographs. I look for images that cross-connect (or resonate) with more ideas and themes than maybe can be taken directly from the subjects of an image. Journalism and art do not have to be, in fact should not be, thought of as being separate, or opposed to each other. There is a calm peaceful quality to this image. The resigned, almost dreamy, expression on the faces we can see conveys the sense that the flow of people from one country to the other has a certain fateful inevitability, osmosis driven by economic pressure. Besides, it's simply a beautiful photo.

    All you Alex Webb fans need to see this book to understand the significance of his wife's work and ideas, easily as good as his. No doubt the two photographers have influenced each other over the years. I am in an artistic partnership with my own wife. It's not always a cake-walk, but there is no denying that two minds have more sheer voltage than one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  6. JRJ

    JRJ Well-Known Member

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    Well told. Thank you.
     
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  7. Illumidata

    Illumidata Premium Member

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    @FredGUnn it's like he shoots between heartbeats or something. Thank you for the leads.

    @beakhammer i could not have put it anywhere near as well myself, and I agree most emphatically with your very last sentence :D
     
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  8. YogiMik

    YogiMik Premium Member

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    +1 well said, it resonates with my view point
     
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  9. mokeiyong

    mokeiyong Well-Known Member

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    At the same time, don't forget Alex is also involved in the recently announced "Home" project in collaboration with Fuji. :)
     
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  10. FredGUnn

    FredGUnn Well-Known Member

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    For all you Alex Webb fans, I just saw on Rebecca's Instagram page that Radius books is doing a re-release of their book Violet Isle. For $60 you get the book, $65 for a copy signed by both of them, and for $200 you get a signed copy plus signed 5x7s of one of Alex's Havana photos and one of Rebecca's. Here's the link and the two 5x7s in the $200 deal:
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    [​IMG]
     

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