When you’re building a photography book collection, it can be difficult to find monographs that contain a good assortment of some of the best work a photographer has produced. Some claim to do so, but fail dismally. Others are priced into the stratosphere. This book, simply titled Harry Callahan very much succeeds in my view.
Outwardly (and superficially) it isn’t terribly impressive. My copy is a paperback version, measuring 23.5 x 1.7 x 28.6 cm and I picked it up off Amazon (used and in wonderful condition). Size is modest and the book is very understated in appearance. There is no separate dust jacket, but instead a sort of silky ‘soft touch’ cover that ought to be fairly hard wearing and not end up looking ratty, as dust jackets tend to.
Harry Callahan’s images are beautifully understated too. With 119 reproduced in the book and 200 pages, there is plenty of content to justify the slightly higher than typical price for a book of its dimensions). If you don’t fall in love with at least some of the photographs in this book, then you’d best check for a pulse 😉
I apologise for the choppy colour balance of the images. Light levels were extremely low (Britain has recently had as much cloud cover as in Terminator Judgment Day) and these were snapped under mixed house and window lighting on the fly! I’ve got a few books I’d like to share with you so thought I’d get this out!
There is a range of genres represented in the book, from portraits to abstracts, reportage/street and landscapes/cityscapes. I found the next pairing of still life images really holds my attention. I know there is a little peanut inside my head that has a ‘thing’ for non-repeating pattern/detail and Mr Callahan satisfies said peanut with quite a few of his photographs…
The printed material in this book is excellent. The paper stock is close to a darkroom ‘semi-gloss’ and definitely not as flat as a true dead matt. There’s a good ‘tooth’ to the paper, so tones are velvety and reassuringly long. Resolution is high and the overall feeling is one of genuine satisfaction. From a technical point of view, the images are flawless. This is classic stuff, where printers sought to provide a full range of tones. The overall hue (hard to see here) is a modest warm tone, which I feel is perfect in light of the content.
This is one of those stealth books that largely disappears in the bookcase. It won’t stand out and it won’t be the one visitors would reach for. That would be their loss, however, because it is already an absolute cornerstone of my collection and one its most compelling secrets.