Sunday, 7 February 2016

How-to shoot a city

Vivienne Gucwa says in the book's introduction that with no formal training she started photographing the city in 2009. Using an ordinary point-and-shoot camera while wandering the streets (just like Vivian Maier) and she has come with some stunning images.

The four chapters: Street narratives; Skylines; Seasons; History, have a bit of everything. Street narratives has some wonderful snow shots mostly taken at night, some more appear in Seasons with several taken in Central Park during the day and they look equally beautiful. The same chapter has several remarkable rustic shots of the Park with reds, yellows and orange of trees during the Fall.

Skylines delivers the predictable cityscape images with vibrant sunsets and silhouettes of tall buildings, the best images here are those in mono. One taken underneath the Queensboro Bridge (page 129) is magnificent.

It's unfortunate that the book, stuffed with probably over two hundred photos, can't really make up its mind what it's delivering. Ilex, the British publisher of how-to and technical books about photography regards Gucwa's photos as more exercises in shooting a city and presented as rather bland layouts in a square book. I think so many of these images, after some serious editing, are good enough to show them in a large art photo book, one to a page with generous margins and printed on a good matt art paper.

Maybe Ms Gucwa's New York photos will shine in some future title. I'll certainly buy a copy.

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