Saturday, June 11, 2005

Photography Books Part 1

more books
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
A few posts ago I asked how many cameras were too many. How many books are too many? Specifically, how many photography books are too many? I guess there is only the limit of space. In my house, I have about 30+ shelf feet of photography books. Some of them are classic works by famous photographers, some of them are booklets from Kodak, camera manuals, collector's guides, darrkroom hints, technical manuals, and others are just page after page of beautiful images.

Why do I collect them? My interest in photography is wide-ranging. I love the history of the medium, the personalities of many of the greats, and of course, for every famous photographer now dead, there are bound to be a number of biographies about him or her. Ansel Adams, known as Saint Ansel by many, led a fairly straight life. Not too many skeletons in his closet... but Edward Weston! A complex man that was inspired by many things, photographed many things, and many women. His existing daybooks, compiled by Nancy Newhall, make for interesting reading. One of his loves, Tina Modotti, herslef a famous photographer in her brief career, is also the subject of a fine biography. She too, was a very complex persona. Banned from Mexico because of her Communist activities (really it was a trumped up murder charge, but it was really because of her stirring up the masses), she spent an exciting life abroad as a Communist agent of sorts, and eventually returned to Mexico. A movie could be made of her life.

Okay, I really got off on a tangent there, but the point is, a photograph is not merely a photograph. It's also a manifestation of the photographer's mind and heart. I'm not talking about birthday snapshots, but serious photography. Many of the books I have featuring images by a single photographer are sort of like glimpses into their selves and beliefs.

So, of all my photography books, which are my favorites? That's in my next entry!

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