Looking through my collection of photography books, i realise that I've acquired quite a few pounds worth of books in nearly twenty years of collecting. The first true photography book that i bought was John Tordai's 'Into the promised land', a gritty and stylish book featuring black and white photography documenting the Palestinian intifada of the late 1980's. I bought it at the Bradford TV, film and photography museum (now called the media museum) shop for the very reasonable price of just £9.99.
OK, i admit that some time before that i had purchased the Don McCullin autobiography 'Unreasonable Behaviour', but i categorize that as a biography and not a true photo book. Like many photography students, i started to collect books featuring work by my favourite photographers as part of the learning process, to see how Salgado would frame a portrait, or how Capa would shoot a scene. I realise though that there is another more subtle aspect to my book collecting. Memories.
I can distinctly remember where I've purchased virtually every photo book I've ever bought, however, the secondhand ones seem to have especially burned their way into my memory. These books have replaced how i used to feel about buying music on vinyl. Remember the great old record shops? The good old fashioned album has far more sentiment attached to it than a emotionally cold CD or MP3 file. I'd get rid of all of my CDs tomorrow rather than sell my record collection, such is the strength of the emotional ties and memories associated with much of my vinyl.
Books have that same emotional hold especially if you buy them from a great old eccentric secondhand bookshop. Amazon website doesn't quite offer the same sort of atmosphere as a old, cramped bookshop packed full of books. The best book experience? So many to choose from, however, finding a 1940 copy of the classic lighting book ' Lighting for photography' by Walter Nurnberg certainly rates high... literally! I had to climb right up a very rickety step ladder in a book shop/antique shop in Wooler, Northumberland to get that. Absolute bliss.