Paris Photo 2013

After my training in Vienna, I spent a couple of days to check out photobooks at the Paris Photo exhibition at the Grand Palais. It was definitely a good idea to buy the ticket ahead of time as the line to get in was much shorter.

I had a limited budget and baggage space for acquiring photobooks. “The PIGS” was an easy choice as it was 10 Euros and the size of a magazine. Shiga’s “Rasen Kaigan” almost broke the bank and the luggage but was well worth it as the photographs inside the book are stunning.

From the shortlisted titles I also got the last copy of “Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives”. I just love Hatje Cantz’s books for there no nonsense design and hard hitting subject matter. Finally, I pre-ordered “The Photobook: A History – Volume III” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger which is coming out in March 2014. Phaidon was offering free shipping of autographed copies so how could I resist?

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Holy Bible
Photographers: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
Publisher: MACK, London / Archive of Modern Conflict, London20131218-054106.jpg

The PIGS
Photographer: Carlos Spottorno
Publisher: Phree and Editorial RM, Madrid20131218-054114.jpg

A01 [COD.19.1.1.43] — A27 [S | COD.23]
Photographer: Rosângela Rennó
Publisher: RR Edições, Rio de Janeiro20131218-054121.jpg

Rasen Kaigan
Photographer: Lieko Shiga
Publisher: AKAAKA, Tokyo20131218-054129.jpg

Silvermine
Photographer: Thomas Sauvin
Publisher: Archive of Modern Conflict, London20131218-054135.jpg

KARMA
Photographer: Óscar Monzón
Publisher: Dalpine, Madrid / RVB Books, Paris20131218-054145.jpg

Top Secret: Images from the Stasi Archives
Photographer: Simon Menner
Publisher: Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany20131218-054151.jpg

Nine Nameless Mountains
Photographer: Maanantai Collective
Publisher: Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany20131218-054159.jpg

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“Paris” by William Eggleston

“Paris” is a handsome book published by Steidl on the occasion of Eggleston’s exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in 2009.  Eggleston – father of color photography – was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier to photograph Paris over the course of a 3 year period.

But don’t expect your typical tourist shots of the Eiffel Tower and the Musee Rodin.  “Paris” is the places and spaces in between: graffiti on glass, posters on walls, trash in see-through garbage bags.  It’s all the things that you looked at without seeing while you are in Paris.  There is a particular focus on planar surfaces and patterns and this is reinforced by Eggleston’s abstract drawings which are interspersed in between his photos.

The drawings are almost like maps or lines one would draw with their eyes while looking at photographs.  Or maybe even a type of visual sheet music juxtaposing all the visual elements and motifs which Eggleston has honed throughout the years in his photographic practice.  It’s wonderful how photographers like WE and HCB also choose drawing as a creative outlet.  The camera is after all nature’s pencil.

As is expected from Steidl the book is beautifully crafted with sensuous black satin covers. It is organized into Books One and Two with Book Two containing several more drawings than Book One.  Most spreads contain one photo/drawing with some containing two.  This has the effect of forcing you to search for similarities or reasons for the pairings.  Most of the pairings are drawings with photos although there’s always some pairings that break the rule.  It’s quite an effective way to create more opportunities for the viewer to linger over the materials.

Hyperfocal Focusing

Hyperfocal focusing is a must learn technique for those interested in street photography. It’s not as hard as it sounds and is actually quite intuitive once you understand the concept.  To get started all you have to do is to determine the range at which your subject will most likely appear.  The trick is to anticipate the action before you execute the shot.

Let’s say your subject is walking towards you and you want to take a photo of them when they are at least 3 meters away.  To make sure that everything is in focus from 3 meters to infinity you place the 3 meters marker on the focus dial to the center dot.  Then read off the aperture setting at the infinity mark and set the aperture to that setting.  Press the shutter button and as long as the subject is within this range they will be in focus.

This opens up all sorts of possibilities as you can then have the camera away from your eye or even body.  No longer worried about focusing on the subject new angles and perspectives can be experimented with.  And because the camera is not held up to your eye you can also take pictures very discretely.  Sometimes this enables you to move right up to the subject and take the shot.