Saturday, January 30, 2016

Appreciating photography as an art

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas break! I've been busy writing a book (that has a deadline) while Lorraine Orman has been judging a children's book award. We're back on board now!

'See What I can See: NZ photography for the young & curious' by Gregory O'Brien (Auckland University Press)

I'm an amateur photographer so I was keen to get hold of this book. It gives us the basics on how a photo is made, and then takes us on a journey from the early days of photography to the present. It's like he is guiding you through a photography gallery and giving you a running commentary on the images. The book is not going to teach you how to take photographs - it's more of an appreciation of photography as an art.

Intermingled with text are photographs from different photo-artists. I use that term specifically as you're not going to find picture post-card photographs - instead readers will discover images that tell a story or make a statement. Most of the photographs have been exhibited in galleries and are held in collections all over the world. Gregory has included the art of well-known photo-artists such as Marti Friedlander, Fiona Paddington, Ans Westra, John Daley, John Miller, Anne Noble, Laurence Aberhart and many others. Some of the photographs are historical, some biographical, and others are photographs of interesting objects ie smartphones, soap holders, photo vending machine, etc.

It's an expensive production with 112 pages, hardcover, and 2-5 photographs per double page spread. It probably couldn't have been produced without Creative NZ funding (which they did receive). The design is simple, with text and photographs arranged in a no-nonsense way. Keen photographers and High school and University students studying photography will enjoy poring over the images and reading his comments.

Gregory O'Brien has written two other art books which won the Non Fiction Prize at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young People: Welcome to the South Seas (2004) and Back and Beyond (2008). He's also a painter, anthologist, literary critic and art curator.

ISBN: 9781869408435
RRP $34.95

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