The Best of 2009 – Book #best09

I read a lot this year. Probably even more than normally. Travel creates the time to do this – all those airports and sitting around. A lot of background information related to where I was going and a lot of fiction set in “my” cities.

But if I had to pick only one book it would be  “The Polaroids”  by Andre Kertesz.  Already possibly my all-time favourite photographer, I did know about this book , but had only ever had a quick look.  This time, on  a rainy day in Budapest, after about 4 rainy days, struggling to get a long enough gap in the clouds to shoot anything decent , I sheltered in  a bookshop and came across this book.  ( By the way, I’m not against taking photos in the rain, in fact , you can get great results in bad weather – but not very easily with a Polaroid shooting expired or “Artistic” TZ film )

From the book’s intro ” Emotionally and physically exhausted after the loss of Elizabeth, this wife and lifelong companion, Andre Kertesz was admittedly a broken man who had lost his direction. His remarkable recovery began when he was inspired by a small glass bust and he embraced the new Polaroid SX70″

In fact, I think I happened upon his book on a day when I had noticed that the first shots I’d taken , a panoramic triptych which (unusually for me, I was happy with as soon as I had taken them) were starting to go green. It would be nearly 2 weeks before I could get home and scan them.  But I read

“This isn’t to say that Kertesz wasn’t annoyed and frustrated with the unstable and somewhat unpredictable Polaroid process, but his mastery of any machine that captures light would ultimately carry him through. When mystified viewers, many of whom owned the same model of camera asked how he got such remarkable results , Kertesz explained ” You have to learn the limits of the medium, and then learn to work on the edges of those boundaries”   ”

And that was enough to set me back on track, determined to pick up a copy as soon as I got home.

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