You Are Here – a travel photo book (Review)

Photo books come in all forms and are usually placed on coffee tables or waiting rooms. They can inform about people, places and objects with striking or subtle images, usually accompanied by descriptions. Some books confront you with upheaval, tragedy and loss, although most convey tranquillity or excitement.  Most follow a theme: observing people, travelling through a country or region, deserted places, mountains, historic sites…..

Then there is “You are Here”. As photography expert Martin Parr states:  “This is a unique photo book as the images were taken exclusively by travellers, the people with their ears to the ground, street, market or beach…” Rather than follow a narrative or explore a theme, the apparent randomness of the images invites you to flip through the pages then to select faces, crowds, nature, stillness, be awe-filled or feel the every day rattle of another culture.

As you turn the pages you alternate between intrepid photographer and armchair viewer. Perhaps you have waited for just the right moment as Bob Berry did in Roma Italy, 2013 when a nun crossed the patterned courtyard, or waited for the right time to capture the old man pushing his great(?) grand daughter on a swing as Stephan Alborola did in Rajasthan, India, 2017.

Or you may have waited patiently Monet-like for the perfect light in order to capture The Great Wal of China, as Nick Anderson did. Or you just happened to catch the right shapes and light on the Erg Chebbi dunes, Mergouza, Morocco, 2012 that Claire Morris most skilfully achieved. Perhaps you were snapping splendidly before you froze over at Glacier Perito Moreno, Patagonia, Argentina 2016 as Mick Board managed. Or, like, Gavin Burnett you were inspired to explore the three ages of humans in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma) 2012, with the subjects drawing us into their world.

Technology may have enabled all to take reasonable photos but the more you study these images the more you appreciate the balance, the use of light and shape, the celebration of humanity and places.

You Are Here  

Published by Rough Guides 2017

Distributed by Penguin Random House. RRP $29.99

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