In the “My Bookshelf” series, Better Moments founder Christian Nørgaard writes about photo books that have influenced him during his career.
I don’t remember the first photo book I bought, but I do remember which books and photographers had the biggest impact on me in the past decades.
This year, I would like to share a selection of the books that have meant the most to me and have influenced my career as a photographer to some extent – some more, some less.
When I started up as a photography student / trainee I bought many photo books secondhand or on sale – just like any other apprentice on a tight budget. Most of the time, I did not care who the photographer was or for that matter the artist, as long the content inspired me.
I needed to find my own identity and style
I realized that these artists and photographers inspired me immensly. So I read the books with great enthusiasm and passion, I analyzed the pictures and subsequently I tried to recreate the same pictures. Needless to say, the results were poor. Eventually, I decided that a copy-and-paste strategy was neither an option nor a shortcut to success. Instead, I needed to find my own identity and style.
One artist made me see the light
But one artist made me see the light! In 1983, Jean-Paul Goude, a French graphic designer and photographer, opened the door to a world that I didn’t know existed. Jean-Paul Goude published the book “Jungle Fever”, an amazing book with his unique portraits of model and singer Grace Jones.
Jean-Paul Goude was very fascinated by African women; he was also uncompromising in his way of reproducing what he thought was the perfect body. To accomplish this ideal, he cut his photos, taped them together and then painted the gaps to create the illusion of an elongated body – the results were amazing. You surely know the photo on Grace Jones’ album cover “Island Life” which is one of his most famous creations.
Please have in mind, this was way before we all owned a computer and were able to manipulate images with Photoshop. Jean-Paul Goude did these illusions by hand – and he did them well.
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