Photography of the Age: A book review
The hardcover book is about as big, and as heavy, as a typical phonebook.
This isn’t a book. It’s a manual.
A blow-by-blow, day-to-day account of a day in the life of an Age photographer, lumped with some history, some gear talk, and a glossery.
Photography of the Age, by Kathleen Whelan, is the kind of book you need to lift with your knees. You could bludgenon an intruder with it. But what you should do with it is read it over and over until you wear the pages thin.
I was lucky to be given a signed copy, by a friend for Christmas. Thanks, @markjesser!
Photographers — you’ve got to get this book. Simple as that.
It encapsulates everything about working in a news photographer at The Age in Melbourne in chapters such as:
- The context of an image
- Legal and ethical constraints
- Use of new technologies
- The layout of the paper
- The press photographer’s job
Then it profiles a whole bunch of past and present Age photographers, showing their work, unearthing their processes, camera settings, approach to jobs, gear, and so on.
The photography is fantastic. The content is comprehensive.
But it’s very much a photographers’ book. I showed mine to several non-newspaper-reading people that didn’t really appreciate photography. They just shrugged and said “it’s okay”. So, I doubt the book will inspire people to pick up photography.
But — If you are a photographer, I guarantee it will inspire you to make better pictures.
This really is a look inside an organisation that affords its photographers two of the rarest things in the industry: Some time and resources. The pixels contained in this page a compelling proof that time + resources + highly-trained, creative photographers = iconic, amazing results.
But — and this is possibly my biggest gripe with the book — it’s written in a pretty melancholy tone.
The blurb on the back opens with: “Are newspapers dead?” and finishes with “Kathleen Whelan has recorded for posterity the Golden Age of Newspaper Photography … an age we may never see the likes of again”.
Fills your heart with joy, doesn’t it? And you haven’t even had a chance to open the book yet.
But photographers, don’t be put off by this. Keep reading and you’ll find a treasure trove of resources, learning and facinating stories.
It’s a great book. Get it. Read it. Learn from it. Then, like the photographers of The Age, go work your butt off and produce your own body of awesome images.
A photographer’s profile in the book.
A spread of images.
The easiest way to buy it is to Google the title and author’s name.