Recommended Reads 1 – Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age by Sebastiāo Salgado

One of the soundest pieces of advice gleaned from the Members’ Profiles is to view as many exhibitions as you can and absorb the styles, composition and techniques of the masters. Failing that, why not build up a library of photobooks to become surrogate exhibitions when the weather is bad and there’s not much on the Telly. Oh, the joy of drawing the curtains and making sure the fire is banked up, the hot toddy is on the coffee table and the lights are subdued. Then, as the wind whistles around the house end and the snow piles up against the back door you can be safe in the knowledge that you are enjoying the peace and quiet whilst furthering your photographic knowledge.

This is the first of a regular series when members of the DPS suggest a book that might be of interest to fellow members; a book that has given them great pleasure and has repaid the purchase price many times over.

The first in this series comes from John Clarke, and is that masterpiece of reportage: WORKERS: ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE INDUSTRIAL AGE by Sebastiao Salgado. First published in 1998, it includes some of his most iconic images including the awesome prints of ant-like miners scrabbling up and down the mud-slopes.

A master of the monochrome, Salgado spent time, his preferred method of working, slowly embedding himself with the workers of whatever industry he was concentrating upon. Once the “structure” of the work was understood, he constructed his images to expose the true nature of the work whether it be miners or agricultural workers, men capping an oil well or others working in metal.

The book that was the culmination of this project is 400 pages of pure joy and eye-watering spectacle that is guaranteed to excite and satisfy even the more demanding of photographers. Yet, this is not just a book for the photo enthusiast. It is an honest record of what it sets out to achieve: a record of how people around the world were working in the latter years of the 20th Century. So, part history book, part social record, the book has established itself as a classic piece of reportage and one that will remain so for many years to come. If it becomes as rare and valuable as Cartier-Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment” then buying one now could be an investment for your old age. Try finding HCB’s “Decisive Moment” for under £600!

John Cogan

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