I have just finished reading the interview with Josef Koudelka. The only Czech person to document the soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and Prague in particular. A defining moment in his life and career. A fitting point to introduce to you Apertures volume on their collection of published conversations.
Like many of you I am familiar with Josef Koudelka's images of this period but do not know much, if anything, about the man behind the lens. Of the sixty nine names that appear on the cover very few of them jump off the page as people I have read about and know well. There are some who I have heard of from others but a greater portion I have no knowledge of at all.
I read a very small review of this book in black and white photography mag that peaked my interest and the fact that it was a collection of interviews - a format that I have enjoyed reading in the past and prefer to televised versions. To be able to kick back with a cup of tea in a free moment and allow what is being discussed fully occupy your attention is a great way to understand fully what is going on.
There are no images in this book to distract you from what is being said. A bold move by Aperture. I sometimes feel that when I'm reading articles that are interspersed with pictures that they tend to take a back seat to the point of not being noticed. I know this is true in my case as I can revisit books and magazines and have no recollection of the accompanying images it is as though I am coming to them again for the first time.
I have discovered I do not like pre views of anything. I like to have an open mind on what is about to pass in front of my eyes and lodge in my brain - a bit like life it's self! Likewise, this book has introduced me to a lot of things and opinions I had not considered. I have no doubt that at some point in my photograph making some of the things I have read will show themselves in my images.
I am methodical in the way I read -I start at the front and work through. I am about two thirds through this five hundred odd page book which gives you some idea of it's size - not an easy book to stuff in your pocket to read on the train, bus or plane.
The conversations vary in length, some more fascinating than others, all based on visual expression. I am enjoying the odd moments of time I have spent with this book this year. I will go as far as to say if you are a photographer you should have a copy of this on your shelf and if a person from Aperture reads this you should do an companioning volume on all the images that went with the interviews.