Here Far Way - Pentti Sammallahti

blogEntryTopperI must admit that I was not aware of the photography of Pentti Sammallahti until early last year (2012) when I noticed this book 'Here Far Away' listed in photo-eye's book store. They say you cannot judge a book by the cover but in the case of photographers’ books I'm not so sure. Certainly the cover image drew me in and the useful ‘BookTease' sample on the photo-eye site was enough for me to send off a pre order.


This Finnish photographer, born in 1950, took to photography early in life. 'Here Far Away' is a beautiful retrospective book of his work over a 40 year period, and includes a photo taken when he was just 14 years old. The book is divided into 9 chapters, each a record of his travels in Finland, Norway, Ireland, England, and many other European countries. He also spent some time in India, China and Africa.


All the work is in black and white, his medium of choice. He does all his own printing and relishes the technical demands that fine printing requires. Cartier-Bresson was a great admirer of his but unlike Bresson who never strayed from the 35mm format (3:2) frame, Sammallahti uses, square, 3:2, 4:5 and various panoramic frames for his work.



Subtlety of tone characterise Sammallahti’s prints giving them a quiet nature. His work is lyrical, poetic and sometimes humorous. His photos strive to show a transcendent quality in the ordinary. They come from a deep observation and immersion in the landscape and express themselves in a quiet way.



He has a sensitivity to the animal world and many of his photos features dogs, cats, horses, sheep, oxen and a large variety of birds. Two photos feature the common house fly.




The book is beautifully printed and has excellent binding.This first edition published by Dewi Lewis quickly sold out but I expect a second edition to be available later this Summer. Price €45 approx.


Here Far Away was for me the highlight book of 2012. I cannot recommend it too highly.
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sweet nothings - Vanessa Winship

blogEntryTopperThe first time I saw Vanessa Winship's photography was when she won the portrait section in the Sony World Photography Awards in 2008. Her entry showed two young schoolgirls from eastern Turkey.


Later that year her second book 'sweet nothings' which was a collection of portraits of 'The Small Schoolgirls of the Borderlands in Eastern Anatolia' was published in the UK by FOTO8. It had a limited run of only 300 copies. A french edition was also published by Images en Manoeuvres Éditions. At time of writing some copies seem to be available from The Book Depository


From the book I learn "Vanessa has lived and worked in the Balkans and Turkey for almost a decade. In her imagery, she focuses on the junction between fiction and reality, exploring ideas around the concepts of borders, land, memory, identity and history"


Windship's photos have a quiet intensity about them. Her technique, in terms of viewpoint and framing, is straight forward and uniform from portrait to portrait. This helps to focus on the subjects and the equality of esteem afforded to each. The small book size book, 18cm x 22cm invites you to handle it closely. There is a photo on every second page printed on heavy matt paper stock which imparts a suitably old look.




Winship says of the work “I wanted to make a series of portraits of these girls on the borderlands. Knowing their status I wanted to give a small space for the girls to have a moment of importance in front of the camera. I hoped the symbol of the uniform, the distance in repitition, and the austerity of the landscape would represent one thing, but I also hoped more than anything, in the expressions of the girls’ faces, to draw attention to the idea of these young girls poised at the moment “just before”. The moment where possibility lies, a time where the presentation of self teeters into consciousness.”
Photos from this collection can be seen on her website

This works comes from a few years back but I see that her latest project based in the USA, titled ‘She dances on Jackson’ has just been published by Mackbooks


Vanessa Winship from Türkiye'de Zaman/Time in Turkey on Vimeo.

Saul Leiter

blogEntryTopperRecently BBC 4 TV aired Thomas Leach's documentary In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter but I failed to see it, only becoming aware of it's showing the following day.

In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter TRAILER from Tomas Leach on Vimeo.

The same can be said of his 'little book' as he calls it Saul Leiter Early Color as it had already sold out by the time I went to order it. I subsequently ordered 'Saul Leiter' published by Steidl in 2008, a catalogue published on the occasion of his exhibition at the Foundation Henri Cartier Bression in Paris. I believe it is currently sold out but if you come across it, it really is a little gem.


Comprising of early black and white as well as colour work, what immediately struck me was the high number of vertical compositions and for a 'street photographer' that is fairly unique.



It is good to have the black and white work alongside the colour, which he has become famous for, as it shows the transition in approach and where colour brought him visually. Using out of date Kodachrome (?) and film for it's slightly unreal rendering of colour allowed his painterly sensibilities to flourish.



What I love about Leiter’s work is that is is based on a living experience, on perception as opposed to conception. He uses a natural strength of photography, namely optics, and it's ability to manipulate the rendition of space. He also accepts and uses the photographic colour of out of date film.



The book has an understated elegance. Beautifully printed on slightly creamy white paper stock, which gives a warm and quiet base for the images. The overall design serves the work and, with excellent binding, it's a pleasure to handle.


I hope that a second printing of this book will be published in the future. It deserves a place on photographers bookshelves. In the meantime Early Color is out in a new edition but already seems to be in short supply.

For more information on Saul Leiter check this out.
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