Sunday, October 31, 2010

The meaning of a photograph

Branches, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

Park, originally uploaded by jiihaa.

I have been looking at the small and beautiful book Staden / Kaupunki / La Ville / The City, which consists of photographs and poems by Pentti Sammallahti and Bo Carpelan. This book was nominated as the most beautiful book of the year 2006 in Finland.

Carpelan's poems are in Finnish, Swedish, English and French; Sammallahti's photographs are - well - Finnish, of the Helsinki city. Sammallahti is a master of the black and white landscape photography, with a unique style. He manages to find something extraordinary in his photographs, making them funny, sad, memorable.

I have occasionally tried my hand in b&w, for example in the book Summer in black and white squared, which has given me a feeling how hard it is to do it right. But Sammallahti makes it seem so effortless. Dogs, cats, people, trees, cars, buildings, all tell their story. And Carpelan's poems add another layer on top of the masterful photographs.

If you can find the book, have a look. Quite a story to be found there.


Tessar said...

Thanks for the tip about Staden. I love Pentti Sammallahti's work, and look forward to finding the book in the US. He makes beautiful, elegant photographs that are also funny. That is very hard to do. Some photographers can be funny and some can be beautiful, but he manages to be both at the same time. As always, I enjoy your blog and your sensitivity to the change of seasons and the light. It is much the same for us here in Connecticut.

Juha Haataja said...

Indeed. There is an exhibition of Sammallahti's work here in Helsinki, which has received a lot of praise. One interesting aspect of his photography is that he makes prints of his old (from the 1960s etc.) negatives using cutting-edge digital technology, which seems to work well for him.