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Recently I’ve started to get a little more serious about getting decent photobooks.  I have purchased the following in the last year:

Genesis, by Sebastiao Salgado

Here Far Away, by Pentti Sammallahti

Performance, by Richard Avedon

Outside Inside, by Bruce Davidson

American Photographs, by Walker Evans

The Americans, by Robert Frank

Road to Seeing, by Dan Winters

I am very glad that I have picked up this sizable collection in one year, and especially so because the books have almost all now become rare and have been marked-up 50-500% over what I paid.  I also paid for the vast majority of these books by selling camera gear, which is another cause for celebration.  Some of you may know that I have an obsession with collecting cameras.  At one point, I had nearly 60 cameras in my tiny apartment.  The thing about camera collection is, you really don’t need one.  It can never make you a better photographer.  In fact, it gets in the way of shooting,  In the past year, I have shot almost exclusively with my Leica’s, not even once touching my Olympus PEN FT, and OM-1m, and seldom breaking out any of my larger format cameras.  What I’ve found is that the little time I have is better spent shooting or appreciating images, than looking at gear (though I am still yearning for an M9!).  And the best way to do this is to swap my gear for photo or art books.  That way, even if I don’t take a single picture in the future, I will have a collection of high quality images, that can add to my family’s cultural life.

I just recalled that this isn’t exactly new to me.  I used to read a blog by David Duchemin, where his slogan was “Gear is good, vision is better”.  Looking back, some 5 years and many photographic heroes later, I have come to appreciate this much better.  And how does one acquire vision, if not by seeing?  The only regrets I have are missing out on Ballet (Leutwyler) and America: Icons and Ingenuity (Dan Winters).

As I look through these books, I will also post some short reviews.  Looking forward to that.

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