This Week In Photography Books – Erik Kessels

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’m in a bad mood right now. Grumpy, surly, sour. Take your pick. Why? Because I’m cold, deep in my bones. Nobody likes a whiner, but it’s been well-below-zero here in Taos for more than a month now. Each day, I wake up hoping this arctic wave will break. No such luck.

I know some of you are reading this in the Southern Hemisphere, or straddling the equator. Hell, even my parents were smart enough to high tail it down to Mexico. To all of you, I hope you’re happy. Enjoy it. Because the serotonin doesn’t pump as freely when everything is bleak, gray and dim.

Even now, as I try to put this foul temper behind me, I’m having trouble. The words don’t flow as well when your mind is trapped in a negative feedback loop. Too. Cold. To. Be. Witty. Today.

So what is a hard-working columnist to do? Keep bashing you over the head with complaints? Move to Mumbai? Take a bath in chicken soup? All respectable options, but none seem right.

I have a better idea. I can re-open and flip through “in almost every picture.”, a new book published by Erik Kessels of kesselkramer in Amsterdam. (What would I do if I were in Amsterdam right now? Do you have to ask?) Let’s pause a moment while I actually do look at the book again.

OK, I’m back. And I feel better already. This is one of the funniest, strangest, and most oddly heart-warming books I’ve seen in a long time. If ever. (No, it’s not genius. But that is a big threshold to cross.)

So what is it about? Apparently, one of the publisher’s acquaintances spotted this project on the web, and then the book was born. In almost every photograph, we see a middle-aged woman standing fully clothed in water. Her name is Valerie, and she and her husband Fred are the team behind the project.

I suppose we’d call them amateurs, but then again, they’ve got a book, and most of us don’t. Valerie is a willing subject, and Terry has photographed her, over the years, in fountains, pools, oceans, lakes, showers, you name it. The only catch is that she’s wearing clothes, and standing in water. Or wet, having poured a jug over herself.

It sounds like a concept cooked up out of irony, but it’s not. The end statement mentions the thrill of eroticism, and I guess it’s there. Maybe. Thankfully, though, the book is not made out to mock Valerie either. While she doesn’t look like anybody’s mental vision of a model, she does know how to vary her expression, and to play along. It must take a lot of guts to show yourself this way, especially as she ages over time.

I know many of you look to this column to see what books you ought to buy. But that’s never my motivation. I’m looking to find things that are interesting, innovative, thought-provoking, important, powerful, inspirational, bizarre, or absurd. It’s a high standard, and maybe I don’t always get there. But today, at least, I’m less grumpy than I was five minutes ago. So that’s something.

Bottom line: Weird, fun-loving book by amateur photographers

To Purchase “in almost every picture” visit Photo-Eye

Full Disclosure: Books are provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.

Books are found in the bookstore and submissions are not accepted.

 

There Are 7 Comments On This Article.

    • Top photo and 6th from top are good. A whole book of these? Really? It’s funny the reviewer mentioned eroticism, because one of my first thoughts was recalling I read somewhere that certain segments of the Japanese adult market have unusual tastes in this regard — as do some Germans — but this could all be urban legend. However the reviewer does confess to wanting to bathe in chicken soup so perhaps it’s more widespread. I always approach the Friday morning APE book review with trepidation, and today I know why. :) As for Ben Dover, how’s your pal Heywood? Sheesh. I award this book my highest accolade in the “adult” books category (of which it’s the only entry) — 4 wet green bathrobes.

      PS does Valerie have a Twitter account — My pal Manti Te’o wants to know.

  1. blake andrews

    A little more info might be helpful. This book is part of an ongoing series by Erik Kessel reappropriating found photos. This is book #11 out of (I think) 12 published so far. If this particular title doesn’t appeal to everyone, I suggest readers check out some of the others. Black Dog and Shooter are especially good in my opinion. I’m not sure why Photo-Eye mislabeled it. An oversight on their part.

  2. blake andrews

    I get it now. Photo Eye has the correct info but the link in the post is to the wrong book.

  3. scott Rex Ely

    One man’s muse is another man’s grandmother.
    Hey, at least the work is consistent.

  4. Hey Jonathan, I see it’s going to get into the teens soon in Taos-it’s in the low ’60′s here on the Gulf Coast! I’m not sure about this “reappropriating” stuff, but I do love a nice snapshot!
    “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”
    – Eudora Welty

    Walter