Not a Series


I went to see the Jeff Wall show again and noticed a couple of new oddities which could have been discussed for hours had I not been there with real people. However, afterwards one of the real people was kind enough to buy me a copy of the book below which, despite my having enough books at the moment, seemed relevant to my current thinking. Later in the pub, her generosity was heightened by the fact that she had her purse emptied by a pickpocket.

Singular Images: Essays on Remarkable Photographs

Old Comments

The comments from the previous WordPress blog.

ed nixon: I’d value your posting your impressions of this book. It can be ordered through as a special order; it seems to be distributed very narrowly, in the UK.

I was given a ‘gift’ vouchure, read permission, at Christmas to go out and get myself something ‘photographic’. It’s a very difficult decision to make, particularly when the funds are not large, and you wonder what it might be exactly that you’d get the most value out of, what might light a new fire, start with ‘pictures?’ or with ‘words?’

I wish this book had a bit more focus on ‘modern’ or ‘recent’. I’m sure there is a great deal to see and know about Julia Margaret Cameron, etc. but… it’s just so long ago – more than one whole century away and aeons of technological change (both in the medium and in the environment) away too.

Sorry about your friend’s purse; yet another one of those personal violations that make one feel dirty and vulnerable and helpless.


admin: Hi Ed

The book is published by the Tate but Aperture are putting it out in the US so probably better to wait.

I’ve only read the intro and the Jeff Wall chapter and to be honest it didn’t tell me much about Jeff Wall that I didn’t know already. I picked it up because I keep feeling the pressure to work, or edit, for series of pictures. The book probably won’t help me but being aware of this dilemma, Jawed has suggested making the next book from pictures in this blog. I’m fairly determined to do the panorama book next which isn’t a series even though it might sound and look like one.

Have you read the Szarkowski book?

I’m happy to report that we didn’t let the thievery crimp our evening.


ed nixon: Thanks Gary. Jawed has good ideas.

Rightly or wrongly, I class this book in the same category as the recent publication by Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment. I’ve read good things about this one and will probably pick it up.

I’m a great fan of Szarkowski’s writing. I have the “Looking” book and have enjoyed his essays on Winogrand and a somewhat older set in his edition on Modern American Photography that rifles through the MOMA photo collection. He has a great talent for the analysis and categorization that is levened with fine flights of fancy, metaphor or illusion.


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