Book Review: The Contact Sheet

Making contact

An interesting idea for a photo book but I wasn't sure what photos in the title were private work by individual photographers and what were commissions. There is a difference between the two. I've commissioned plenty of photographers for publication articles and many cases they can involve quite tight briefs. Take this person with plenty of sky, where the heading will go, or against a dark background on the right for the heading and text. At the other extreme photographers can just be commissioned to go and capture someone or something on any particular day.

Most of the work in the book I feel belongs to non-commissioned work. As such the work of the forty-six featured photographers included are personal statements and it's quite fascinating to see other work from assignments where one image has become well known.

Some of work maybe just too personal. Adam Jeppesen's eight shots of snow taken in the headlights of his car seem extremely dull but no doubt very meaningful to him. On the other hand the four from Dorothea Lange are masterpieces and Carl De Keyzer's 1994 shots of a Soviet labor camp saw-mill are equally extraordinary. I think one of strengths of the book is the very wide range of work, though they are mostly all of people with no still-life studio.

The book is pleasingly designed and in four languages. Tough on French, German and Spanish readers because their text is tiny and printed in grey! The matt art paper is ideal to reproduce the 175 screen printing.

The Contact Sheet is available at Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | JP | CN)

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