|Anne-Celine Jaeger, Image Makers Image Takers [Ed. 1], Thames & Hudson Inc., 2007|
Image Makers Image Takers is a book I bought in Marfa, Texas in 2008 and has since remained a coffee table book until this blog, thankfully. Little did I know how much useful advice it holds for those experiencing creative blocks or for those that are in need of an extra push and motivation to think outside the box. Image Makers Image Takers is full of nitty gritty details vocalized from no one better than those who have seemed to have successfully done it all.Anne-Celine Jaeger binds this book together by having no shame with being intimate while interviewing her twenty contemporary photographers of choice. Jaeger is a devoted journalist and critic who was educated in Germany and later graduated from Oxford and then City University, London.
This book is inundated with well-known photographers in today’s contemporary retrospect with their personal philosophies with their approach, inspiration behind their work and style they have achieved over their many years of practice. These are one on one interviews of photographers that have ‘made it’ in the photography world that so many struggle to become a part of. Jaeger investigates from why Boris Mikhailov pays homeless Russians to be his top models to how Thomas Demand builds his studio constructions with lighting techniques, or how Neil Stewart got his first big break doing a Levi look book from someone simply overlooking him making a surfing scrapbook in a London surf shop. Approaching the end of nearly all the photographer’s interviewed, Jaeger asks for them to give their personal advice to us budding photographers, some being understandably harsh and others being unquestionably soft and influential. It’s certainly reassuring to read what photographer; Alec Soth has to say, “Whatever you’re interested in, go for it. You can only find your voice if you’re not intimidated by doing stuff that’s been done before.” Or how Tina Barney states, “I think that’s one of the things people really like about my pictures. There are a lot of accidents.”
This book of 265 pages is divided into five different sections of photography; art, documentary, fashion and advertising, portraiture and next generation. It’s a simple guide for those who have a specific technique they would like to work within or be spontaneous and try a new division of photography some never thought they would explore but it all seems possible with these thorough outlooks. Image Makers Image Takers gives you a chance to really study those who have fully achieved a specific technique and learn from the professional’s direct advice and artistic creations.
Not only are there interviews with these top-notch photographers, but also in the last 60 pages of the book Jaeger dabbles into those behind the scenes, the curators and gallerists. The more I read into these curators and gallerists I couldn’t help but recognize that in a way it is as if the author is a curator for her own book, it doesn’t go unrecognized to how much time Jaeger put into the structure of this book because it all flows so smoothly. It’s enthralling to interpret these curators and gallerists who have made a name for themselves and how they go about reaching photographers to touch others in galleries. As a photographer myself it’s always been about impressing the professor and your peers around you. I’ve yet to look at my work as if I were presenting them to a curator of a gallery but those are the people you have to impress the most when looking to exhibit your work. As I read I came across this helpful hint from Katherine Hinds, “Sometimes we look at work by young artists and they are all over the map so to speak. What we’re interested in when looking at young work, is that a photographer has taken an idea and really explored it.”
This is a great book for a professional photographer and for those who try to be like them one day. Some may be in limbo with their personal practices but this gives you hope and somewhat of a guide to go by to achieve your goals like these twenty individuals did. I could see how some may think this book is somewhat redundant because Jeager does ask many of the photographers the same questions but it’s your choice to get bored with it or take into consideration how the thought processes to each photographer’s personal rituals come to life.
For example fashion photography is so far from documentary photography because fashion photography has its set up, editorial, poses and somewhat heroine chic, sex sells, outlook. Opposed to documentary photography with its unscripted take it as it is trend. So I personally think it’s a great idea for Jaeger to ask the same questions to these photographers who take different approaches.
For those struggling artists reading this take these words into consideration by gallerist, Rudolf Kicken, “Believe in your work. If someone turns you down, don’t let that discourage you, just keep on working.”