The seventy-one color photos in the book might surprise a lot of people because Callahan is more famous as a black and white photographer. When he died in 1999 he left behind about a 100,000 negatives (in the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona) but as Keith Davis writes in the book's introduction, Callahan switched to color in 1977 and by 1983 he said color changed his life and he wouldn't shoot in anything else, besides he thought he had gone as far as he could in black and white. Actually he had used the rather garish Kodachrome slide film in 1942 but the technical problems of getting prints was enough to put the new medium aside back then.
I thought the photos in the book are a fascinating collection of street scene color work. Callahan loved the potential of what this offered: color, shapes, shadows and if he wanted, the added extra of folk in motion. Many of the shots were taken abroad: Egypt, 1978; Ireland, 1979; Morocco, 1981; Mexico and Portugal, 1982 and Wales, 1984. The others are from New York, Atlanta and Providence. Some of the photos from Ireland, Egypt and Portugal look just stunning, partly due, I think, to the inability of builders in these countries to actually create a smooth plaster surface to a wall. There is texture and color everywhere.
Near the back of the book there are ten photos of Callahan's experiments with color double exposure. Two, taken in New York (pages eighty-six and seven) really work with buildings, neon signs, pedestrians and traffic overlapping wonderfully. These shots, created as they are taken, make the technique a bit hit and miss but it's worth saying that he was in his mid-seventies when he started playing with this concept.
The book is the sort of production that you would expect from Hallmark (all the photos are from their collection) 200 screen printing, generous margins and thankfully captions with each photo, so no flipping to a back page. In the front of the book Keith Davis writes a twenty page essay about Callahan, though I thought his language style displays a bit of pretentious verbosity. The back pages have a 1978 to 87 bibliography and a chronology for these years.
An wonderful book if you want to see another side to this well-known mono photographer.