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Wolf Suschitzky – Seven Decades of Photography

Some books grow on you. this is one of them.

I don’t recall where or how I first came across Wolf Suschitzky, but I do like those photographers who have documented life in the UK over the decades and Suschitzky is one such with a career stretching from the 1030’s into the 21st century. This book, Seven Decades of Photography, published in 2014 when Suschitzky was already 102 years old, collects a selection of images from his long career.

Quite apart from his photography the man himself is fascinating. Born in Vienna in 1912 to a Jewish atheist father who ran a bookshop and later a socialist publishing house. Originally wanting to study zoology, Suschitzky ended up studying photography influenced by his sister Edith, herself a photographer. Observing political developments in Austria in the 1930’s he concluded that Vienna was not a good place for a Jewish socialist and moved to London.

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Niall McDiarmid – Town to Town

I don’t read or watch the news any more. Somewhere along the way the news media lost their integrity and reduced the world to an endless cycle of win-lose conflicts between extremists. When I was a kid newspapers printed one edition a day and there were four news bulletins – morning, lunchtime, early evening and late evening. Time and space were limited, valuable, so editors had to think carefully about which stories to cover. Journalists had to make phone calls, talk to people, write up stories – they had to do journalism.

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Martin Parr – The Non-Conformists

Think of Martin Parr and what comes to mind are vibrant and richly saturated colour images. But it was not always so. Early in his career Parr shot in black and white and this book, The Non-Conformists, presents some of that early work. Just out of art school in the mid 1970’s Parr moved to the mill town of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire and began documenting the everyday lives of the people of the area together with his friend, and later wife, Susie Mitchell, he with camera, she with notebook and pen.

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Mark Power – Good Morning America

I’m not really sure what to make of this book. Perhaps my mistake was to start at the back where Power has a short essay.

‘For as long as I can remember’, he writes, ‘I’ve wanted to explore America, an ambition fuelled by a legion of TV shows that crossed the Atlantic in the 1960s. As a young and impressionable child I devoured The Man From UNCLE and The Fugitive but it was the westerns evoking a landscape altogether removed from the congested English suburbs surrounding me that I loved the most: Bonanza, The High Chaparral, The Virginian and in particular Casey Jones, the adventures of a middle-aged railroad driver putting the world to rights.’

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Daido Moriyama – Record

A prolific photographer, Daido Moriyama is also a prolific publisher of photobooks. As well as dozens of monographs Moriyama also publishes a regular journal, RECORD, containing a selection of images and a brief commentary. Originally started way back in 1972, Moriyama got as far as issue 5 in 1973 before stopping publication. Revived more than thirty years later in 2006 RECORD has been published regularly ever since with issue 42 appearing recently. While many of the older issues can still be found second hand, some of them are much rarer and correspondingly expensive when they do show up. A reprint of issues 1 – 5 appeared around ten years ago, but that book is now out of print and sells for $200-300 on the used market. Thanks to Thames & Hudson, though, the earlier issues of RECORD are now available in a more affordable package. Daido Moriyama: Record contains a selection of images and Moriyama’s brief commentaries from issue 1 to issue 30 taking us up to February 2016. The publisher decided to make the book the same size as the journal so the images are reproduced at the same size as the originals.

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Val Williams – Martin Parr

In 2014 Phaidon published an updated edition of their Martin Parr retrospective called, imaginatively enough, Martin Parr. In numbers: 464 pages, more than 600 photographs, and a list price of £60 / $100.

I’ve always liked Parr’s work so when a new copy showed up on AbeBooks for less than $40, I snapped it up. The book covers Parr’s photographic work from his earliest days up to 2011 and has broad selections from many of his projects and publication. The images are accompanied by an extensive text from Val Williams, detailing Parr’s career and discussing his work.

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Donovan Wylie – British Watchtowers

My friends had decided to go wind surfing on Camlough Lake. Not seeing the appeal of windsurfing myself I chose instead to go for a hike on Camlough Mountain. Calling it a mountain flatters it somewhat; it’s more of a large hill rising to less than 1400 feet.

I can’t remember exactly when this was except that it was probably in the mid 1980s when Northern Ireland was still in the midst of what we euphemistically called ‘the troubles’ or sometimes ‘The Troubles’. Since Camlough was in South Armagh, an region known as ‘Bandit Country’ in testimony to the intensity and ferocity of the violence there, the area wasn’t exactly a tourist hot spot and so I had the mountain to myself. Mostly.

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Toby Binder – Wee Muckers Youth of Belfast

A mucker is a mate or a friend. “All right mucker?” or should that be “alright mucker?” The etymology and origins are unclear with ‘mucker’ being described as both a Britishism and an Irishism. Since we in Northern Ireland have spend more than a few centuries disputing our Britishness or Irishness it seems a highly apposite word for us to use.

Toby Binder is German so even with a thorough grasp of English it seems unlikely that he would have come across ‘mucker’ before he started his long-term project photographing the lives of young people across the United Kingdom. Post-Brexit or, rather, post-referendum – he travelled to Belfast and Wee Muckers – Youth of Belfast is the result.

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