Book Review: "Light Gesture & Colour" by Jay Maisel
I've been a big fan of Jay Maisel's work for a few years now. Even though he's a very famous photographer I only really came across him a few years ago when he did a class on kelly training. I had seen his photography before but I never knew whose work it was. When seeing him being interviewed, it struck me that the then 80year old artist is not only a great photographer, but also a great philosopher as well, especially about all things photography.
I was delighted when it was announced that he would be releasing a book. I ordered it as soon as it became available. If you pick this up at a book store and page through it you might be disappointed. The book is a collection of images and accompanying stories, and when you first look at it, it seems somewhat amateurish with the big type and the way its laid out. Don't let this put you off though, because it's a fantastic book.
In the introduction alone there is a wealth of that wisdom that I spoke of. The reader is treated to insights right from the first paragraph. The book consists of an introductory chapter where Jay explains the concept of the book, and of the meaning behind the title: "Light Gesture & Colour"
What follows is a collection of photographs, each accompanied by a story behind the image. These are either anecdotes of when it was taken or a broader philosophical description of the photograph and how it relates to the theme. Each of these stories and photos feels like you're getting a direct injection of a tiny bit of Jays personality. On every page you can find gems of wisdoms that could happily be at home on at shirt or a motivational poster. They're funny too. His style is conversational, whimsical and honest. There's no beating around the bush. He tells it as it is. Despite my comments about it being quite philosophical, that philosophy comes across as if you're having drinks with a hardened New Yorker who's telling stories by the fire in some old Manhattan bar. They are wonderful insights into the mind of one of the great visual artists of our time.
The photos themselves don't need much selling. They speak for themselves. Some I have seen before, others I had not. Taken alone they are a good collection of images but when combined with the accompanying stories they become an invaluable insight into the mind of the man and the photographer.
If you are into photography at all, you should buy this book. I can't recommend it enough.