Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Free photo books

Great court, British Museum

Photography books are fantastic resources. Great places to see the work of other photographers, poach ideas, inspire new creative heights or just marvel at fantastic images. But photography books are also ridiculously expensive, particularly for something that might take you an hour or so to peruse. If it is a great book then it is probably well worth a longer investigation but so many aren't always worth the time. I am probably guilty of not paying enough attention to the images, in the way that Mike describes in the link above. However, I am trying to spend more time looking at photo books. I am going to try to give them more attention, to savour and really take in the images.
So how do you see as many books as you might want, without spending a fortune ? Step into your local library. Somehow I always forget about these quiet treasure troves, paid for by our taxes. Austin seems to have a particularly well stocked library service, though my local branch is small and sorely lacking in photography books. Luckily they have a very functional web interface, where I can search and explore authors then just hit the 'hold and bring to my local branch' button. I get an email in a couple of days and the book is ready for collection just up the road from my house.
I've viewed some really interesting, classic books this way. Books that change hands in second hand stores for hundreds of dollars - classics, some duds, but lots of inspiration just waiting for you to request them. Picking some well known photographers can lead off into Cartier-Bresson's collections of work or the FSA photographers. Lesser known photographers are worth a gamble, because it only costs some time. My recent interest in portraits has Richard Avedon and Annie Leibowitz featuring a lot in my requests. A visit to The Austin Museum of Art lead me to check out a Cindy Sherman collection of self-portraits. And all just there waiting on you.

7 comments:

John M. Setzler, Jr. said...

Metropolitan areas do have nice benefits :) You would be sorely disappointed in the photography selection at my local library :(

Jeff said...

I have a (nearly) unused library card in my wallet. Shame on me. I better check the city library photography books out...the books I am buying are beginning to add up to a significant sum. BTW, I like the unusual architecture in the photo you have posted.

Kavey said...

My other method is to add those photo books I'd love to have to my Amazon wishlist. I don't get books from it that often but certainly when family and close friends are looking for a gift idea they've checked out the list and I've received several wonderful coffee table books in the last few months. My particular interest is wildlife photography and I absolutely love looking through these books - I enjoy them from the wildlife perspective, the aesthetic perspective and the learning perspective too.

Elaine said...

I love the way the shadows conitnue the pattern of the ceiling. I have checked out some "how to" photography books from my library, but never thought to look for photo books.

Spaz said...

Fortunately, our public library is pretty good here.

Another, possibly even better, resource are university libraries, provided you have access to one. They will often have access to more valuable, rare and obscure books than a typical public library, though usually these materials are not allowed to leave the library.

In some ways it's a good thing I'm a student again.

Obsidian said...

Excellent panorama of the place I was a stone's throw from today. Libraries are great places but often in ways you do not expect...

T-Mayer said...

The shadows of the roof segments really make this one interesting to view.

Our library is so outdated the pages are yellow. 8( I have checked out everything I can get there.