Sunday, 16 November 2014

Todd Hido: On Landscapes, Interiors and The Nude

The book arrived and I spent the early hours of the morning reading it

I have been waiting for this book for about a month so when it arrived I had to spend that very same evening reading it. Now my first comment is on the cover, despite the same layout being used on all the Aperture Photography Workshop series, it suits Todd Hido's work the best. It reflects the layout of his Excerpts From Silver Meadows exhibition piece:

Excerpts from Silver Meadows by Todd Hido
Hido's work was a massive inspiration to my own project that I showed up in London at the Free Range Show 2014. So its safe to say I am a massive fan and follow his work quite closely, although I am still yet to get my hands on his Silver Meadows book! 

The Boys who Could Fly by Sarah Packer

Gregory Halpern writes the introduction for the book, an ex student of Hido's meant that it was a very personal introduction and the insight he had into how Hido works and inspires others was a fantastic addition to the book. A line that particularly stood out for me was when he mentioned Hido's two books 'Outskirts' and 'House Hunting'. 
"Those books were both short, and I wondered how they felt so complete and powerful with so few images. I wanted to know how he edited and asked him about his process one day. He smiled and said without missing a beat 'All killer; no filler.'"

I had to go through that process when I edited my book for The Boys Who Could Fly project. My first book was big and thorough - it was more of a collection. So I re-examined all my images and researched more into the output of my genre of photography. I ended up producing a zine which had low production costs and when holding it, it just felt right. I had less images but they made more of an impact. Just doing that made me re-evaluate how I wanted to present my work. 

Anyway back to Todd Hido's book, it is refreshing to read a photography book about a well established artist that doesn't sound stuffy and technical. It reads in a very conversational style and for the reader it gives the feeling that you are on the same level as the artist. For a photography graduate like myself, I always thought I could never reach the perfection of the photographers I so admired. But Hido makes you believe that you can do it and explains that under that outward presentation of amazing work is months of taking the same shot over and over and leafing through contact sheets to find the right image. 

I would have preferred a wider variety of his images - many were quite similar - but I loved the inclusion of photographs he took as a child. Sometimes I think we forget that these artists were children once and were new to taking photographs so it added to that personal connection to Hido that the book was building up. 

I think this series of books from Aperture will be very well received, they are not a massive in depth book on the photographers technical know how and skill, they are more like an insight into the emotional and personal connection the photographer has with their work. Its about the spirit of the photographer and why they photograph the things they do. Often you just see the final results of a photographers work so this book has given me a much broader insight into Hido's thought processes and what drives him. Equal parts photographs and text, it doesn't overwhelm the reader and I was able to finish reading it in an hour or so. 
The yellow inside and on the spine seems to be a popular colour in recent photobooks as it is exactly the same shade of yellow used in William Egglestons' book 'For Now' and similar to Stephen Shores' 'American Surfaces'. They all match up nicely on my bookshelf!

There is this weird note at the bottom of the book on the back cover which says:

I just think that it isn't appropriate, this book doesn't feel like a 'how to' book at all. It is about the photographer and their connection to their work, its about their thought process rather than their work method. I just found it to be an unnecessary addition to the book, but other than that it was a worthwhile purchase and a book I encourage you to add to your bookshelf.

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