Photobooks for Christmas

6 01 2009

Ilse Bing, ‘Hellerhofsiedlung, Frankfurt – my shadow and the shadow of the architect Mart Stam on the roof’, 1930. Bequest of Ilse Bing Wolff. Museum no. E.3028-2004

One of my favourite indulgences is photo books. They’re expensive, but splashing out on one or two a year shouldn’t break the bank, and within a few years you will have a nice little collection. Even more cost effective is to receive them as gifts! I see from the poll that at least four people received photobooks this Christmas. I received one – “Ilse Bing Photography Through The Looking Glass”.

Born in 1899 in Frankfurt, Ilse Bing was one of the early users of the Leica, having bought one in 1925. She spent most of the 1930’s in Paris, photgraphing people, architecture, fashion, landscape amongst everything else. Forced into exile by the war, she moved to New York, where she continued to photograph until the late 50’s, when she put her camera down. She died into 1998.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Ilse Bing until I received this book as a gift. But like hearing old music for the first time, part of the joy and fascination with photography is discovering something or someone whose work was current a long time ago, but is still there to be rediscovered and enjoyed, when you find it.

By the way, I must mention TK Maxx, a shop I love to hate. My Bing book was purchased there at a knock down price of about E20. The cover is a bit tatty, but it’s a lovely big hardback edition. TK Maxx’s book section is well worth a browse, and definately seems to have some hidden gems





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