Another in our series of inspirations and must-haves, this time with guest writer, Ellen Boughn
Two photography book publishers looked to their archives for material to publish in 2014. I chose to review Thames and Hudson’s Magnum Contacts and National Geographic Covers because they are books that can reinforce the editing skills of photo researchers, publishers, art buyers and photo editors.
The criteria that resulted in selecting these publications were that they be books showcasing iconic images that have passed the test of time and that show why a photograph is chosen for key placement or is the most important in a series.
Jim Cornfield, the book reviewer for Rangefinder Magazine, suggested I take a look at the 2014 edition of Magnum Contact Sheets-Compact Edition. [http://www.amazon.com/Magnum-Contact-Sheets-Kristen-Lubben/dp/050054431X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1417741372&sr=1-1&keywords=magnum+contact+sheets] The book shows a large print of the select along with a copy of the contact sheet from where it was selected. Each is accompanied by photographers comments of what occurred in front of and behind the camera during the shoot.
A review of the contacts…my eye itched for my long ago put away loupe…shows why one photo stands out. It’s a good game for a photo editor to play by asking what image would I have picked and why?
Rene Burre’s exclusive interview with Che Guevara captured the many moods of the Cuban revolutionary. In some he appears exhausted or playful. The final portrait of Che with a cigar captures the face of a man with the strength and arrogance of a rebel and eyes that appear to be slightly fearful or with a hint of doubt.
Havana. Ministry of Industry. Ernesto Guevara (CHE) (1961-1965) during an exclusive interview in his office ©Rene Burre/Magnum Photos
On a lighter side is Philippe Halsman’s narrative of how he managed to get three cats air-born, while Salvador Dali jumped up and a bucket of water was tossed across the set all in one frame before Photoshop. (This image was regrettably not among those authorized by the Geographic for publication within a review.)
Once color became more popular, the light table edit replaced proof sheet. INDIA. Rajasthan. 1983. Dust storm ©Steve McCurry/Magnum Photos.
Thames & Hudson’s press release states, “This landmark photography book, published just as the shift to digital photography threatens to render the contact sheet obsolete, celebrates the sheet as artifact, as personal and historic record as invaluable editing tool and as a fascinating way of accompanying great photographers through the process of creating the most enduring images of our time.
What makes a great magazine cover? A new book, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories, [http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/national-geographic-the-covers-mark-jenkins/1118476951?ean=9781426213885] provides a survey of covers from the late 1950s-2014.
The Geographic stayed close to its roots, documenting world cultures and remote geography over time. As the world began to grow smaller in the 1980’s, cover photos of remote tribes began to be replaced with cover stories such as the November 1984 cover piece on chocolate or William Albert Allard’s article on a season in baseball’s minor leagues.
Two of my all time favorite Geographic covers are of Koko the Gorilla holding a camera (just like a pro) as she took a shot for the October 1978 issue and that of a lioness and cub taken by Mitsuaki Iwago for May 1986.
I haven’t read that KoKo’s photo was the first published selfie taken by a non-human primate in the recent dustup over the shot by a black macaque monkey. (We didn’t hear from the copyright office on KoKo’s photo but they now have passed a regulation [http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-monkey-selfie-copyright-20140821-story.html] that only human beings can own copyrights.) I taped KoKo’s cover photo on the door of my photo agency office when I was president. I think the humor was lost on most photographers passing through that doorway.
Although obvious to skilled photo editors and art buyers, most covers are very close up shots with simple graphics as proven in the six-page pullout showing all the cover photos.
A word about the several super large SUMO books out this year. We live in a time when the classic “coffee table” photography book has been replaced with photography books AS coffee tables. What I think of when I see the latest of these books named after fat Japanese wrestlers is how does one wrestle the books home without causing a back injury? Vanity Fair entitled their discussion of the Annie Leibovitz SUMO published this last February as being “Bigger Than Your Apartment” [http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/annie-leibovitz-taschen-book] The special edition of Salgado’s 2014 book, GENESIS [http://www.amazon.com/Sebasti%C3%A3o-Salgado-GENESIS-Lelia-Wanick/dp/3836538725/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418070167&sr=1-1&keywords=Genesis+salgado] weighs 120 pounds. Enough!
All photos used with permission (except for the monkey selfie)
Ellen Boughn www.ellenboughn.com acts as an appraiser of the value of copyrights and as an expert witness www.photographyexpertconsultant.com/ in matters pertaining to standard licensing fees, copyright, unauthorized use and licensing business models in photography and illustration. Her client list includes many major U.S. and international law firms, publishers and photographers/illustrators. Her archive appraisal practice began in the 1990’s with the assessment of the George Hurrell Estate for tax purposes and she most recently appraised the value of the copyrights associated with the Bert Stern Estate. She is associated with fine art appraiser-certified in photography, Jennifer Stoots, AAA [www.photoappraisers.com] for cases that involve both the value of copyrights as well as fine art prints. In addition, she has prepared reports on patents that relate to licensing of intellectual property over the internet.
Ellen graduated from Colorado College, earned the certificate in Executive Management from the UCLA Anderson School and attends courses covering current valuation issues, as offered by American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and similar professional organization. Both Stoots and Boughn are USPAP (Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) certified (Seattle 2008, San Francisco 2014, New York 2012)