Last Sunday we went for a drive to Hermanus having heard from Faith that there was a good bookshop there; so after the obligatory lunch at nino’s we popped into Hemingway’s. This place is not the kind of used book store where you pick up ragged copies of trashy novels for a few bucks. They have a wide variety of books including out-of-print collectables and in a section containing erotic and nude photographic works I saw a number of Sam Haskins’ works and an old copy of David Bailey’s The Lady Is a Tramp: Portraits of Catherine Bailey; a beautiful book but very expensive at R1,200, particularly since Exclusive Books lists it for R408, but perhaps it was a signed copy or special for some other reason.
I was looking more for technical and historical photography books though, rather than photo essays. Visiting stockists of new books these days is depressing because South Africa is such a small market that all they ever seem to have is a selection of books that rehash the same info about digital photography, and usually begin something like “Let’s assume you’re a moron that has never seen a camera before”. If you want to buy better, or more advanced, books you need to buy online and then you have no opportunity to browse and page through books to get a feel for them. I was pleasant therefore to browse through the small selection of older photographic books. Some were very old; yearbooks dating back to the 1960s,for instance, while others were a little more pricey than I was hoping for. I did buy four books though at just R220 for the lot.
The first two interested me not only because I want to become more profficient at working with models but also from a historical point of view. They date back to 1984 and were published under the Squire magazine banner and feature all South African models, including some old favourites from my youth; like Vanessa Wannenburg, Miss SA 1977. I have only a vagure recollection of Squire magazine and had never seen these guides before. No doubt they did not appear on the shelves of your local CNA and I was also not very interested in photography in those days in any case.
There were some other books on photographing and lighting nudes but as I have still to graduate to photographing clothed models with any regularity I gave those a miss and settled for a book on technique and one that might help me earn some pocket money from my photography and also contains some beautiful photographs to look at.
I’ll definitely be visiting Hemingway’s again, but I think I’ll wait for winter when it isn’t stiflingly hot in there amongst all the beautiful books.