Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Book-photography photography books
A friend takes beautiful pictures of people reading. As with Kertész, the book cover is generally obscured but the books lend their titles to the photographs; while these are portraits of people, you can be in no doubt what the subject is. I would have liked to have been photographed on the blue bench outside my old flat, where I could sit on summer evenings. Now it would have to be on my daily commute, when I do the majority of my reading. I'm not sure what I'd be holding, something by Simenon, no doubt. (The pictures accompanying this post are my own, of Shakespeare and Company in Paris.)
In 2002, Cuban-born Abelardo Morrell (famous for his camera obscura images) published a book of photographs of books, A Book of Books. It's not an obvious project but apparently some of the first pictures taken by photographic pioneer Henry Fox Talbot were of his library. Morrell's photos feature some tomes that have been altered, for instance by having a hole drilled in one, though I'm especially drawn to his image of an edition of A Tale of Two Cities, where the print of the reverse side of the page is coming through. Giant storage spaces work well, too, reminiscent of Alain Resnais' 1956 short film about Paris's Bibliotheque Nationale, Toute la mémoire du monde. And then there are heartbreaking images of books damaged by dirt or irreversibly warped by water. Tragic.