pjhstudios blog

Vanishing America – Michael Eastman


Michael Eastman’s book, 51wxP7WbngL._SL160_.jpg
Vanishing America, is a warm, visual elegy to small town America and vintage pop culture. Theaters, signs, stores and other everyday interactions are shown in rich detail with saturated colors. The collection is curated across 10 sections: theaters, churches, hangouts, doors, signs, stores, services, automobiles, hotels and restaurants.

Each section is reverent to its subject matter. Where some photographers would show decay and the end of life, Eastman focuses on bringing the subjects to life, preserving them as a visual time capsule. Even those subjects that appear derelict, such as the doors and signs, they don’t feel cynical. Theaters, hangouts, signs and automobiles receive the most in depth portraits. From section to section, the subject matter transitions well. From the secular to the things that lead us there and back to the places where we converge, Eastman sees where socialization and relating to others occurred.

Brinkely’s introduction is poetic, describing how Eastman found beauty in decay.

Of note, as reverent as Eastman is towards his subject matter, his book was printed in China. Perhaps this bit of irony escaped the process or the publisher had no choice, or market forces determined the outcome much like the small towns have fallen to.

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Rock Gods – Forty Years of Rock Photography


Rock Gods: Forty Years of Rock Photography by Robert M. Knight is a diverse collection of photos that span his entire career. He’s taken pictures of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck and many more.

He focuses on lead guitarists, and his body of work shows that, especially with his live concert shots. Knight excels at the live concert photography. He says his approach is like a journalist or someone doing a documentary, where looking at the photos afterward they come to life in a more visceral way.

In Rock Gods, he tells stories about some of his memorable shoots. Greeting Led Zeppelin in Hawaii as they walk off they plane carrying the master reels to Led Zeppelin II. Meeting Jeff Beck for the first time, after years of trying. And as he’s known for, being the last photographer to shoot Stevie Ray Vaughn.

After paging through the book, I wanted more. More of his old concert shots, more of his more recent work. For photographers, viewing Knight’s work can tell a lot about composition and lighting–what worked, what moment created that visceral feeling you get from a concert photo.

Seth Godin – Tribes


Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us serves up a compact guide to be a leader of ideas. How should a leader of a tribe, a movement, cause, purpose devoted to a singular mission act or think? That’s what Godin covers with a mixture of anecdotes, stories from people who have led and succeeded or analogy or blunt deconstruction of a point.

At about 130 pages, it reads quickly with each point or example no more than 300 to 500 words. He writes with purpose and clarity. There are times when his anecdotes seem thin, needing more context or explanation. Or is this a clever trick for the reader to become curious about the person he mentions and Google them?

If you’ve read other Godin books, similar themes emerge. His emphatic belief that the factory mindset of cranking out widgets is broken. Education that invokes follow the rules behavior is an unsuccessful path. People fail not by the act of failing, but by not doing anything due to fear.