I have been a bad, bad girl recently. I know I should be saving up for my apartment (I have $3,000 thus far so it’s not been a total bust) but I saw these three photography books as of late that I just have to have. The first was a Steve McCurry book called “The Unguarded Moment” that I actually first saw months ago but couldn’t justify the expense for. Somehow, though, after selling my Jetta, I just happened to go to the mall to run a quick errand. I just happened into Barnes and Noble, just happened to pick up the book, and just happened to be out at the car with it and a receipt clutched firmly in my hands. Of course, I have flipped through it many times since then, admiring the lighting, the composition, the feeling and the thoughts behind each picture. I’ve imagined taking those pictures myself. What would I have done differently? What did I really enjoy? How would I interact with each of the individuals seen through the viewfinder on my camera?
I found out that Steve McCurry offered expeditions to various parts of the world so, of course, now I want nothing more than to go to Cambodia or India or Afghanistan and shoot the people there. Those of you that know me best wouldn’t be surprised. I’ve often fantasized about being a world-weary photographer and bringing awareness to various situations.
Funny enough, that leads to the second book. It’s a thick tome of some of the Magnum photographers’ best works (Magnum is an agency for some of the most amazing photographers in the world. If you’ve ever seen a truly powerful image of a world event, it could very easily been shot by a Magnum photographer). I first saw this book at the Timberland Regional Library in Tumwater, Washington shortly after 9/11. The book is filled with pictures of every aspect human life; our greatest celebrations to our darkest hours. On one of the pages, there is a photo of a girl in Sarajevo. The blast from a bomb has knocked her from her feet. She’s bruised and dirty on the ground. A short distance away, a dog is lying in a puddle of blood. There is an intensity, an anger, and a sorrow, about that picture that, ten years after the fact, has stuck with me. After 9/11, some people wanted to join the military to defend our country or to seek revenge. I considered joining so I could shoot like the Magnum photographers. The book is currently for sale at another bookstore in town.
The third book has a simple tan cover. It’s called “At Work” and it lets you know front, back, and spine. It’s by the famed photographer Annie Liebovitz. In it, you’ll find several of her most famous portraits but infinitely more important than the images is the text that accompanies them. Reading what she thinks and feels about her work, how she came to be the artist she is, and all the triumphs and tribulations along the way make her seem more real and the dream more attainable. I bought it yesterday and am half way through it.
Along with the Leibovitz book, I bought a bookmark (a rare feat for me) with the quote “It’s never too late to be what you could have been” engraved on it. Good words for us all, I think.