Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Book review... 'A snapshot of Melbourne'

© 2016 The Worldwide Publishing Empire

What's better than a good street photography book? A good street photography book comprising of images both past & present from your own city.
Firstly, i'm a portrait photographer, it's what i'm recognized for before any other photographic genre. And although I have been acquiring a selection of photography books over the years, the irony is that
only a few of them are books by portrait photographers and a majority of them are street photography books. Street photography has been a genre i've always had an interest in, a genre which is the most democratically accessible yet one of the most challenging. A genre i've only been shooting myself as a side journey for the last year or so, in the whole scheme of things, a short period of time for me.

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity by the publisher 'The Worldwide Publishing Empire' to review a newly released street photography book titled 'A snapshot of Melbourne' by photographer Ian Kenins. What caught my interest in this book was that it was a body of work based around my own city of Melbourne. A body of work spanning 26 years, a photographic document of a city as much as a street photography book. Usually these are the type of books that have the possibility of standing the test of time.

Let's take a closer look at it...

© 2016 The Worldwide Publishing Empire

'A snapshot of Melbourne' is a 148 page hardcover book with a dustjacket that measures 240mm x 205mm x 20mm. First impressions last and this book's initial presentation is very nice!
The work is all printed in duotone B&W and I can only assume a majority of the work was shot using traditional 35mm B&W film emulsions. A medium that is making a sort of comeback amongst a number of photography enthusiasts in this age of digital sterility.
The pages in the book have a glossy finish and although i'm not the biggest fan of gloss paper when it comes to B&W work, the quality of printing is done extremely well where the photos show a pleasant range of tones with a consistent printing quality usually found in more expensive publications. But let's not forget, this is street photography, and this genre of work is usually judged by image impact and story moreso than technical perfection.

One thing that really irks me when it comes to photography books is when a horizontal image is spread across the spine using both pages. I've seen it done countless times even in the most prestigious books and for me personally it doesn't quite work or do the image justice. I'd rather see a smaller image on one page than it being larger spread across 2 pages. This book doesn't show any images do that and that's great to see as I find it a better viewing experience without damaging book spines. (Photographers wanting to publish their books should take note here.)

© 2016 The Worldwide Publishing Empire

Like most other books the photographer's introduction at the start of the book introduces us to the body of work. An intro that's well written and sets the tone for the viewing. The book has approximately 150 photographs which are sectioned into about 20 chapters, chapters which are titled by their respective themes such as 'Game Time' which would group photographs showing people playing games/sports. Other chapters are named 'Women', 'Child's play', 'A dog's life', etc. It has a nice flow happening that can also be flicked through starting from any page for a casual type of viewing.

The general body of work comes across as a carefully selected set of images that show the typical everyday life in this city I call home. Some photos are candid, others the subject/s are well aware of the photographer taking the shot. A variety of photos that show the quirkiness, the humour, the Sunday afternoons, the everyday slices of life that form an overall general cultural perspective of this city. The photographer seems to have achieved in placing the end viewer of these works into the scene as an observer, a passerby, something a Melbournian could look at and nod to with a sense of familiarity.

© 2016 The Worldwide Publishing Empire

© 2016 The Worldwide Publishing Empire

Personally I think I could never have enough street photography books and i'm usually buying a few every year. This particular book would appeal to street photographers that would be interested in looking at a body of work that spans a couple of decades, people that have a general interest in street photography and perhaps to a more local audience that would be able to relate to the scenes and appreciate this long-term snapshot of their own city. Value for money is always subjective but at AUD$34.95 including free postage & handling within Australia, I find this book provides that considering i've spent more on books of much lesser technical quality in the past!

For those interested in purchasing this book, it can be purchased directly through the publisher's website 'The Worldwide Publishing Empire'. 

I would like to thank Lisa and the team at The Worldwide Publishing Empire for providing me with this review copy.

(I have no affiliation with the publisher or photographer and this review copy was provided to me by the publisher 'The Worldwide Publishing Empire').