3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
It rather depends on your tastes,
This review is from: The Photography Book (Hardcover)First of all, read Donald W. Mitchell's review of the book. It contains a lot of information on the book itself. I strongly agree with his comments on the text which does little more than tell you what school the photographer belongs to and, rather often, how they died violently. Not at all informative, rarely relevant to the actual photograph and much more suitable to a book about photographERS than photographs. Pity.
My main quibble was in the selection of the photographs themselves. For reportage and especially war photos the overage is excellent. There is also a good selection of montage images. I found the portrait selection to be OK. I'd have been more happy to have seen fewer pictures from the FSA (Farm Security Administration ), which, although uniformly good, seemed to crowd out other sources. I suspect Ian Jeffrey got a good deal on this set of photos.
I was surprised to see very little 'fine art' photography, especially still life. It seemd that the editor felt that pictures ought to make a statement, and that therefore a picture of a typical person or a strange juxtaposition is superior to a simple, beautiful work. Even the picture of Marilyn Monroe is an odd one; technically only average, revealing little about her, the text invites us to consider the meaning of the chair beside her. I would have liked to have seen more photographs that are there because they look beautiful.
I also, frankly, got very tired of seeing pictures of railway bridges and miscellaneous uninteresting shots from the 1800's. Yes, these were important. Yes, they give an indication of the technology of the day, but do we really need to see so many sepia photographs that do not inspire? Again, I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe they had been chosen because their copyright had run out ..
So, the text is pretty much a waste of time and I wasn't keen on the selection criteria. Why do I give the book three stars? Becasue I have to agree with Donald Mitchell. Many of the photos are very significant, the production quality of the book is great and, with 400 photographs, it's hard not to find something you like every four or five pages.