20th December 2012
Having already read ‘Ways of Seeing’ by John Berger, I erroneously expected this book to be in a similar vein, light and witty and a really good read. The part by Jean Mohr was, but I’m afraid I found John Berger’s contribution a great disappointment, somewhat stodgy and a diversion from what I considered the best parts, Jean Mohr’s experiences as a photographer.
The short, illustrated stories of the things that are said and happen to a professional photographer are very instructive. I found two I liked particularly; the extended one where he spent some time with a farmer in the alpage, and the non-nonsense common sense remarks that came his way from the farmer, along with some wonderful images of how he lived. The other is of the blind girl in India, and the poignancy of her situation against the care-free images she allowed Mohr to make.
I also had a wonderful time going through the images that are said to be the interpretations of an old woman’s life. Interpretation has to be exercised by the viewer as much as by the editor and compositor, but it does have a feeling of memories the way the images flow into each other, disappear and are then revisited in different scale, much as we all do when musing about experiences.
Every image in the book is in black-and-white, and it hadn’t occurred to me that this was the case until I came to write this review, such is the way they work on the mind.
After completing this book, I took away an idea that images don’t need to have obvious captions, in fact no captions at all, provided a well worded introduction can set the scene for the viewer without making a definite statement as to what the viewer has to see. This fits well with the advice I’ve been given by my tutor much along the same lines and to see it in action within this book was a very forceful learning experience.