With more than 160 pictures and an 8000 word text in a 137 spread PDF eBook, Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography, by Niall Benvie, is not your common photography eBook, more a window to visual adventures.
This lock down period has been, for some, a period of intense work. Photographer Niall Benvie published recently a new version of his Field Studio eBook, which I reviewed here at Provideo Coalition, and now he has a new one. Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography is, as Niall Benvie says, “a lavishly-illustrated story of living on your wits – with a camera”.
On a note he sent me and that I believe I can share with readers, Niall Benvie says: “I’ve spent the last three weeks creating a retrospective of my work from the last thirty years. It runs to 136 spreads, has over 160 images and an 8000 word commentary. Like all our eBooks, it has been made for high resolution viewing (2560 x1600 pixels)”. This candid account of the career of one of Europe’s leading outdoor photographers is an essential, as well as entertaining, read for aspiring and established photographers everywhere.
You are not a photocopier!
Having devoured Benvie’s Outdoor Photography Masterclass, published in print in 2010, this Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography is not a surprise, although it may be a completely new experience for many readers. This is not your common photography book/eBook, packed with nice landscape and natural world photographs, but an exercise in experimentation, something that was already present in the 2010 book, which was based on a three-day-workshop designed to give participants – and in the end the readers of the book – a better grasp of the potential of photography beyond the creation of nice photographs.
The author’s passion for trying new things was revealed, also, in an eBook published years ago, under the title “You are not a photocopier! – from snapper to artist in six lessons”, which breaks the mould of what is considered “nature photography” and offers readers an exciting vision of where it could head.
The 74 page eBook is mandatory reading and a riveting read for photographers who want their work to be noticed and their ideas heard. As Niall Benvie writes, it takes as its premise the idea that “art need be no more complex than the successful communication of ideas and feelings” and shows the reader ways to make their work less generic and more specific to them.
Photographs being more than photographs
The same passion for trying something different made Niall Benvie explore the white backgrounds used in the Meet Your Neighbours international project, a technique he shared with other photographers in the first Field Studio eBook, from seven years ago, and expanded in the recently published “The Field Studio – How to create perfect portraits of nature on white”, which, again, goes beyond the creation of photographs and gives readers suggestions that allow for other ways/visions to explain/show the world around us.
As I wrote before, Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography is not your ordinary photography eBook; it reveals Niall’s evolution as a photographer and human being, and how his vision of the world translated into a body of work that goes beyond the photographs. Since the publication of Outdoor Photography Masterclass, in 2010, that his understanding of the importance of photographs being more than photographs has grown, both in his witty montages and the exploration of colour, patterns and tone present in some of his collections.
Niall Benvie’s photographs are, many times, not the destination but a way-station on a longer journey that takes the concept of outdoor photography to a whole new level. These are not just beautiful photographs, they are also part of a message that is transmitted through words and design choices, and a message that will, probably, give you a new perspective over subjects and themes and the world around us.
Niall’s work stands apart
With lots of inspiration for both the aspiring and established photographer, the eBook Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography is beautifully designed, and with an interactive caption index, it represents a “electronic coffee-table book” that brings the full beauty and detail of the photographs to your computer screen or tablet. As Niall Benvie says, with its 137 spreads, 2560 x 1600 pixels, PDF format, the eBook is suitable for all platforms but wasted on a ‘phone screen!
To close this note about the eBook Retrospective: Thirty Years of Photography by Niall Benvie, let me use the words that open the eBook, a foreword written for the book months before his sudden death by the late editor of UK’s magazine Outdoor Photography, Steve Watkins. He wrote “…in a market saturated with lovely photographs of pretty much everything it is Niall’s ideas, his unique perspective on life, that stands him and his work apart…He has consistently pushed the limits of what we perceive to be outdoor photography and how it can be used to communicate powerful and thought-provoking messages.”
I could not agree more! Check the preview of the eBook available online, if you’re not convinced yet!