Photo Book Escapism – In a Time of Great Distress

As a lot of us are locked up at home.  The World is holding it’s breath.  Life as we know it is grinding to a halt.  It is time for comfort, but also for escaping for a time to another place, or another time.

I have for many years bought many, many books of photographs.  Books that fill book cases and book cases, and… well, you get the picture.  At a time, when I am sitting here in my favorite chair with a cup of tea with lemon and honey – it is too early to add alcohol – I have pulled a couple of books from the shelf and have spent an hour looking at great images by masters of the medium.

Harbel’s bookcase

Personally, I have been working on two books of my photographs for a long time.  I keep changing the sequence of the images, playing with layouts and wondering about which photograph should go on the cover.  I wonder about titles for the images (those that have read a few of my blogs may know that I am not a big fan of titles), and what kind of an introduction I should have. 

As I wonder about these things, it gives me pleasure thinking of the experience that people will have when leafing through my books.  At least the 5 people that I will give the book to!  I am not expecting best sellers, but I feel that photographs in a book are different than individual photographs in a frame on a wall. Also, books of photographs are a way of leaving a message. A footprint, when I will be nothing but dust.

Books of photographs are in their own right works of art.  And we all know that art is of critical importance to us all.  It enriches our lives and makes for a more bearable existence, particularly in times of crisis.  We all see the horror, or sci-fi movies set in the future, where the set is deliberately made to look anonymous, walls plain with no decoration and wardrobes monochrome in the black/grey/white range.  This is no coincidence.  This is about taking away our humanity and turning us all into just beings in a maze.  Like white mice in a medical lab.

We must keep our humanity and we must do so every day.  A book of photography is about us.  About our lives, our world, our time, and what has come before. 

One of my favorite quotes:

Instagram is like frozen pizza, exhibitions are noisy – but a photo book is an act of analogue rebellion in an obnoxiously digital world. – Teju Cole

Makes me laugh every time. So true!

Stay safe.  Make some tea, or pour yourself a whisky. Get a book of photographs from the bookcase, and if you don’t have any? Get some. Order books of photographs for home delivery!  Escape for a bit. Think of another time, or another place. Transport yourself there. This is what a great book of photographs can do. Innocent escapism! Calm!

Harbel

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