My goal is to purchase and review a new photobook or photozine every month. The first that caught my attention was Julius Smit’s “Tramp.” There were several things that drew me to Tramp.
- The cover had some eerie somewhat out of focus image with a nice composition.
- The title Tramp really connected with me, I often feel like I tramp when I’m out on a solo photo walk.
- The book and artist are both from England so there was some international flair there,
- At. 2.69 cents the price was just right
Honestly I’m surprised this book could be sold for 2.69 cents, it’s good quality paper, constructed well and I can’t image it costing much less then that to print.
So Tramp’s theme is the paths that people walk, the landscape and sights that become so familiar that people don’t notice them. It contains 25 images, two poems, and some introduction text. I will not comment on the poetry as I am less than an expert, I’ll just say that the poetry didn’t really connect with me.
I will comment on the photographs. Reviewing and judging an experimental art book is kind of a precarious thing. Experimental is all about breaking out of the norms, and what not, still when I see a photograph that bothers me it doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t seem right.
There are a few photos I find very compelling in this book, My favorite is a group of people walking to a seafront in a very dynamic composition. I loved a two page spread with a poem and photograph of two fence spikes that complement each other. There is a great image of the word “playing” that fits very well. I also am very fond of an image of a stone wall that is very much impact.
On the other hand some of the photos in this book are just flat, they lack contrast, a hook, an interest. I think part of the problem is the black and white conversion process. I’ve looked at Julius’s photos online in color and found them better, but they often didn’t translate well to black and white. I found some questionable composition choices in a few of the photos. as well but those are debatable.
I received this book on a day that my wife was undergoing an outpatient back procedure at the hospital. I tried to absorb the work while sitting in a small waiting room with a TV wailing “Dog the Bounty Hunter” at volume that was beyond loud. In short order I gave up and retreated to the main lobby where there was a level of civilization. Perhaps “Dog” tainted this book for me. Perhaps not.