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Your favourite photographic book done by a medium format photographer?

Godfrey

Well-known member
I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't really look at photo books with an eye for what kind of camera was used to make the photographs. For example, I love Michael Kenna and Nick Brandt's work and have several books from each of them, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what cameras they used to make them.

Of course, I am aware that both of them use various different medium format cameras. But so do/did many other people. What's important in a photo book isn't what camera is used but the photographs, the story they tell, the presentation, etc.

G
 

fmueller

Member
I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't really look at photo books with an eye for what kind of camera was used to make the photographs. For example, I love Michael Kenna and Nick Brandt's work and have several books from each of them, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what cameras they used to make them.

Of course, I am aware that both of them use various different medium format cameras. But so do/did many other people. What's important in a photo book isn't what camera is used but the photographs, the story they tell, the presentation, etc.

G
I agree, for the most part. But the tools do matter, even to Kenna and Brandt.

Really? This is, hands down, my least favorite book of his! [Friedlander]

No offense intended, of course, but this clearly goes to show that two reasonable people can come to very different conclusions whenever art is involved.


I am just a bit embarrassed about how much I like Friedlander's work. There is a genius and work ethic behind his voluminous and high quality output that just seems effortless and I am always in awe.

As a younger man discovering the world of fine art photography, I was initially baffled by Friedlander. I think all his work looked unforced, still does, and discovered how special that was as I tried to develop my craft and my eye. I was just looking at all his 35mm B&W work.

Then one day I discovered his book, American Musicians and I found a whole body of work unlike anything I had seen of his before, some of it was in color, some of it obviously shot with MF, and I realized he was one of the first fine art photographers I'd come to find that didn't make his mark with a single look. Anyone would've been proud to have that book represent a lifetime of work, and for him it was a mere fraction.

As photographers, we all just wonder a little bit about the tools and techniques of those whose work we admire. Not much different than painters of great reputation were very particular about their brushes, their paints and their canvas.

But we all learn sooner or later learn, here in Dante's Inferno, "there's nothing worse than sharp image of a fuzzy concept"-AAdams...
 

MILESF

Member
Christopher Burketts Intimations of Nature and Michael Kenna’s Japan. I am fortunate to have both books signed.
Intimations of Paradise perhaps ? I have this book and Kenna's Japan and am also very fortunate to have two Burkett and two Kenna prints. Two of my favourite photographers.
 
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Godfrey

Well-known member
I agree, for the most part. But the tools do matter, even to Kenna and Brandt.
...
As photographers, we all just wonder a little bit about the tools and techniques of those whose work we admire. Not much different than painters of great reputation were very particular about their brushes, their paints and their canvas.

But we all learn sooner or later learn, here in Dante's Inferno, "there's nothing worse than sharp image of a fuzzy concept"-AAdams...
I agree that the tools matter to a photographer — they certainly do to me, why not to anyone else? — but aside from the initial learning experiences back in the dim ages of my past, what someone else uses to get a photograph hasn't mattered to me very much at all, other than to marvel at if they made a photo that I would never expect out of a particular type of equipment (for instance, the 11x14 presentation prints that my dear buddy Don gave me from his Minox subminiature work: I just can't believe when I see them that they were made from an 11x8 mm negative!). I certainly don't look up what equipment a photographer used in the ordinary course of buying a photo book and enjoying it. One of my favorite photo books ... "Here Far Away" by Pentti Sammallahti ... I still don't know what cameras he used for these photos. It's irrelevant: the photos are beyond magical. :D

G
 
I am just a bit embarrassed about how much I like Friedlander's work. There is a genius and work ethic behind his voluminous and high quality output that just seems effortless and I am always in awe.
Perhaps this is a case of familiarity breeding contempt on my part, as I live on the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area and can (and have!) photographed all the scruffy desert plants I will ever want -- in b&w, color, and infrared light, using both film and digital cameras in various formats, from as small as 2/3" to as large as 8x10 -- within walking distance of my house. <shrug>

Mind you, I'm a big fan of Friedlander generally (for the record, I'm not wild about his photos of his shadow, either) and have many of his books, just not this one.
 

fmueller

Member
"Here Far Away" by Pentti Sammallahti ... I still don't know what cameras he used for these photos. It's irrelevant: the photos are beyond magical. :D
I share your admiration for Sammallahti. I pulled it off the shelf to take a browse and I too remember when it was new on my shelf never really thinking much about what camera he used, but I’m sure he had his preferred. I think that most artists, photographic, or otherwise are not indifferent to the tools they use. Some artists are adamant in using the most basic tools, others in going to extreme lengths including equipment choice. What comes to mind is the lengths at which some photographers go to stage a photograph (with crews of assistants) vs. some who just wanders the city or countryside solo.
 
I'm not too hung up on the medium format/large format but here are my favorites:

Albert Watson's "Cyclops" Very powerful imagery and an astonishing range of subjects.
Sebastião Salgado’s "Genesis" The scope of the book and the imagery is breathtaking. I get goosebumps every time I open it.
Hiroshi Sugimoto's "Seascapes" This book is not for everyone (my wife keeps hiding it deeper in the bookshelf.) It transports you to place of deep thought with no concept of time.

I have many others but these are my favorites right now
 
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