LA based director James Frost has awards shaped like a Brit to a D&AD yellow pencil as well as a Grammy nomination for the excellent House of Cards music video for Radiohead, which I think we can all agree is very cool. His choices for Bookshelf this week are a great selection of titles that find themselves rooted to specific times, places and people that have provided inspirational reference points through out his life and career. Not to mention a fascinating insight for the rest of us…
Nova 1965-1975 Compiled by David Hillman & Harri Peccinotti. Edited by David Gibbs
I often head to this book for inspiration. Nova, being iconic in the late 60’s, encapsulates to me the creativity that was abundant at that time: the experimentation in fashion, film and photography. When I was in college, I always admired the image-makers of that era: Bourdin, Erwitt, Donovan, Bailey, Leiter, Stern, Seiff, Haskins and of course Peccinotti. This book pretty much covers the majority of them. I was staying at my best friends flat in London while I worked on a job and one of his flat mates worked for Pentagram under David Hillman. We chatted about the significance of that period in film, photography, design etc, a lot of drunk speak hasten to say! The next day she came home with the book for me from David Hillman. She brought the last copy that they had at Pentagram and my friend was not pleased. Having just found out how much it’s worth I now know why! I had better remove all the post it tabs from the pages, wrap it in plastic and hide it away.
Photo Graphics Sam Haskins
I have always been a huge fan of Sam Haskins work, he was one of the few fashion photographers of the 1960’s that really explored optical effects “in camera” and during printing. To this day in my work I’ll try and achieve as much as I can in camera as I think there is a true art to capturing an effect optically on to a piece of film. Haskins is more known for his fashion output such as “Cowboy Kate” but this book is about his multiple imagery work, using experimental techniques such as optical glass and montage particularly in the mid to late 70’s. These types of images became identified with the mid 80’s but Haskins was doing it a decade before the word ‘Photoshop’ was even coined. I had the great honor being in contact with Sam Haskins for a short while. I was on the search for a couple of his books and they were super expensive at used book sites. I noticed on his website he had an email address, so I thought what the hell. He responded saying he had just moved to Australia and most of his books were boxed up in storage, and he only had a couple which were slightly damaged and without dustcovers. A few weeks later a package arrived from Australia with ‘November Girl’ and ‘Five Girls’ inside. It was one of the most exciting days in recent memory knowing that someone I had admired for years took the time to firstly even take up a conversation with me, but secondly taken the time to actually send me copies of his books. Sam sadly passed away in 2009, the photographer Andreas Feininger said of Haskins “Sam Haskins, a photographer who better than most, knows how to see”. Hear Hear.
Topologies Edgar Martins
First and foremost I’m a filmmaker. However I studied photography in college, in particular landscape photography. I loved the notion of going off to natural environments and taking photographs. Maybe I was lazy and didn’t want to have to deal with the setting up of studio lights, dealing with people, the confinement of a set up with in the studio space etc. On location it was all there and could be captured in a whole variety of different ways, it was more liberating. I think this bleeds very much into my work now, I like being on location, I like finding something interesting that is already there, but not necessarily obvious. Edgar Martins is a master at this, and his photographs are taken in such a way that there is an eeriness about them, a sense of isolation, yet majestic and quite beautiful at the same time. Martins is more than just a landscape photographer, I’m not even sure he would refer to himself as that, what he does do, is find subjects or things that are already there but could have been fictionalized, and in the process produces truly remarkable images.
Arthropods Jim Burns
I have no idea what this book is really about, but it has some really crazy odd ideas and illustrations in it. It’s described as “different people from different disciplines in creating what might be called three-dimensional group fantasies” That was all I needed. When I lived in Brooklyn at the end of the 90’s we had this crazy local 2nd handbook store where the guy who owned it had no clue as to what books were really worth, or he simply didn’t care. I picked up a 1962 edition copy of Barbarella in there for $10, anyway I used to go there on a Friday evening when he had new stuff in, for some reason he had a lot of books about film and art from the 60’s and 70’s for cheap. I came across this book and looked through it and that was that. I often refer to it when having a creative block, as it’s so out there you suddenly think anything is possible, really… anything is possible. It still sits on my desk to this day.
OK OK OK Mike Slack
I actually purchased this book out of complete jealousy. I’m a massive fan of Polaroid film and have been for as long as I can remember. I have not a great deal of patience so Polaroid is a dream to someone like me. I have taken hundreds of Polaroid’s over the years and always thought it would be great to publish a little book. Then I saw this book. I couldn’t believe it, I was heart broken and then I thought well there is someone else who likes it as much as me, so this person has got to be ok. Ironically Mike and I have become friends since he lives literally up the road from me in Los Angeles. We’ve even discussed working on a project together, not with Polaroid but using the 6×6 format. Who knows? Makes for good chatting over a sandwich together!
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