In our monthly meetings we have often talked about the importance of looking at the photographs of others for the purpose of learning and inspiration. With this is mind I would like to share two books that have been a great source of inspiration to me over the several months.
The first is The Roma Journeys by photographer Joakim Eskildsen, text is by his wife Cia Rinne and with a introduction by Gunter Grass, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature.
At over 400 pages this is a very large book. It details the six year journey of the photographer and writer through Hungary, India, Greece, Romania, France, Russia and Finland as they explore and live with the Roma (Gypsies) in each country. What originally caught my attention of this book was the black and white panoramic images that introduce each chapter, I have used them as guides to help me see panoramically. However, it is the color portraits that keep me going back to this book. Taken with a Pentax 6 x 7 camera, the images have such warmth and detail that after months of looking through the book I always find something new. Many of these color images are what I imagine would happen if you were to combine Justin Hackworth with Josef Koudelka.
The text adds to the photographs and a CD of Roma folk songs is included with the book.
For Christmas this year I was given a signed copy of Paul Fusco RFK. Already I consider it one of the best gifts I have ever received. This is also quite a large book, but while The Roma Journeys is from a six year project the images from Paul Fusco RFK are from a single day, June 8, 1968, the day of Robert F. Kennedy's funeral.
Paul Fusco was commissioned by LOOK magazine to accompany and document the funeral of RFK at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York to his internment at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C.
There are several images of the funeral and internment that are interesting but it is the images of the funeral train that are the heart and soul of this book. On the day long train ride Fusco took thousands of images of the crowds that lined the tracks to pay their respects to Kennedy. At first glance these images seem quite alike and even redundant, assorted people, often blurred, standing track side. It is only after several viewing that the details start to come out. The layout of the book has the feel of being on the train itself, looking out the window as the world goes by. I now find myself looking intently at each image and seeing the details such as clothes people wore, their houses in the background, their gestures and respectful mourning representing all of America. Recently I have come to think of this book as the opposite of Robert Frank's The Americans. Frank showed an isolated, cold and distant view of America. Fusco shows the better side of America, one in which the color of someone's skin or standing in society doesn't matter, especially in the face of tragedy.
I have seen these images on the Internet and this is one example where the images are lost online, I strongly recommend getting a hold of the book itself.
Images from The Roma Journeys can be found here;
Images from Paul Fusco RFK can be found here;