What’s on the Shelf – The Landscape by Don McCullin

This is the first of what I plan to be a series of entries which I have called ‘What’s on the Shelf’. Hardly original I know, but hopefully self explanatory.

As much as I like making photographs of my own, I also enjoy spending time collecting and reading photography books by people whose work I admire. I think there is a lot to be gained by studying images in a more traditional way. I have to say it’s a real pleasure to dwell on a photograph on the printed page; something which I rarely do when viewings work on a screen, whatever the size. You also get to see a collection of photographs which added together have a story to tell. Each page turned offers a link to the previous page and so on.

A first class book on photography is also a great excuse to sit down quietly, perhaps with a glass of something and simply enjoy the experience. An opportunity to make mental notes along the way as to how the photographer’s approach might influence your own work and the direction you might wish to take in the future.

The latest addition to my book shelf is The Landscape by Don McCullin published by Jonathan Cape in association with Penguin. I have written about McCullin’s work before including an entry about his wonderful exhibition at Tate Britain in London which is on until the beginning of May. You can read this entry here.

This is a large and well produced book. If you watch the video it will give you a flavour of its content and layout. I never like images which span across the spine of a book and I am pleased to say none of the plates have been printed in this way. The printing quality is good and having recently seen the exhibition prints in the flesh the publishers have done justice to McCullin’s work.

As you will see from the examples these are dark, broody and atmospheric photographs and I love them. They do not try to make the landscape at all pretty in what might be called a ‘cheesy’ way, but they are to my eyes truly beautiful images. He may be best known as a war or documentary photographer but his landscapes are much more to my liking.

The vast majority of images have been taken in the UK, many depicting Somerset, McCullin’s home county. There is also a selection of pictures of Palmyra in Syria.

A handful are urban landscapes but they are just as powerful as his other photographs, more so in some ways because of the inclusion of a person or two.

I am delighted to have added The Landscape to my collection. The book runs to 184 pages and is a book to savour and enjoy. Trouble is I think I might like to return to The Tate before the exhibition closes. I find Don McCullin’s work truly inspiring.

I look forward to writing more ‘What’s on my Shelf’ entries in the future.

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