Ooh, I’ve just been flicking through a series of photobooks that I’ve found, well, delightful, I suppose. (I’m trying not to sound too much like a Jane Austen character describing afternoon tea taken with her newest female confidante.) Anyway. They’re the Focus series, published by Lark. They picked some themes, they got involved with some photo-sharing communities, and then they produced some books. Simple.
The result? Five themed photobooks: found faces, letters, love, passages, and reflections. I honestly couldn’t choose which book I like best. Letters makes me want to pick up my camera and race off into my little corner of east London, hunting down random qs and sleeping zs. My soft-spot for reflections is well known, so that’s an easy score with me. And as for found faces – pictures of mundane, or not so mundane objects, that mysteriously look like faces, from surprised eggs in an egg poacher to miserable looking handbags – it just makes me smile. Yes, even when I look at the grumpy ones.
As the images have been drawn from photo-sharing communities, they come from all over the world and have different attitudes and perspectives. You’re not confronted with one photographer’s quest to shoot the perfect door, or an exploration of images of love from someone who’s disgustingly smitten. There’s variety – and inspiration – in many different forms.
What’s more, these books are worlds away from pretension. There aren’t acres of text from the photographers, explaining what they were attempting to convey through the photo, how it made them feel to shoot the images, and what they went on to have for lunch afterwards. They’re just collections of images bound by a common theme and presented with the photographers’ names, the images’ titles, and where they were taken.
Okay, so occasionally there is a sentence or two of blurb to add some context, but nothing gushing. Something like this: ‘This image was shot in a place called Graffiti Alley. The entire alley is a painter’s canvas, and it changes on a daily basis.’ The focus (ahem) really is on the pictures.
The Focus series are cute and quirky and bursting with gorgeous images. They make super presents; even if the recipient isn’t a photographer she or he would have to be a pretty miserable sod to not appreciate the fun images. And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration for a photo project of your own, you’d do well to take a look.
They’re all available on Amazon, and they’re all under £10 (or US$15); go and peruse.