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Author: Anne-Celine Jaeger

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

It would seem that both photographers and patrons of photography could benefit from reading interviews about photography with both prominent photographers and purchasers of photography. That is the premise of Image Makers, Image Takers.

The book consists of 24 interviews with successful and up-and-coming photographers and 16 interviews with acquirers of photography, like curators, picture editors and publishers. The photographers ranged from old hands like William Eggleston and Stephen Shore to new comers like Alec Soth. The acquirers ranged from curators like Tina Brown of The Photographers Gallery in London to Kathy Ryan, picture editor of the New York Times Magazine. The author asked a few of the same basic questions to each of the interviewees, and then asked other questions that flowed naturally from the answers to the basic questions.

Photographers’ basic questions included how the photographers got into photography, to whether photographers needed a philosophy, and how the photographers edited their work, to what advice the interviewee would give to new photographers. As to the last question, almost all the photographers advised new photographers to stick by their guns. Interestingly, and perhaps disappointingly to other photographers, most photographers said that you couldn’t really learn vision. The answers revealed some photographers to have thought deeply about their work and its meaning, while a few seemed superficial and even arrogant.

Even though there were fewer acquirers interviewed, their responses may prove useful to photographers. For example, acquirers talked about the necessity for well organized portfolios and emphasized the importance of projects rather than just individual images.

Each of the interviews was illustrated with several of the photographs either being created or acquired.

Even though it’s interesting to read about the motivations of the makers and takers, I’m not so sure of the practical value of the interviews. The interviews with the photographers certainly show that there are a large number of roads that lead to being a successful photographer. The interviews with the takers showed what acquirers are looking for, although, if you take the advice of the photographers to stick to your guns, that may be of little help. A few of the interviews, like that with publisher Gerhard Steidl, can provide the hope that at least some takers are more interested in the art then the money.

I found this book to be an interesting supplement to the study of photography. On the other hand, it seems to me that a deep reading of the work of most of the photographers might prove more useful.

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