norman parkinson is one of my favourite photographers. the way he uses body shape to strengthen and bring so much power to the composition of an image is quite unlike anything else. despite most of the images in this being black and white, from the colour photos you can tell he has a strong eye for colour, and has been especially drawn to red.
i never quite realised that fully until i looked though this book, actually. a lot of the images will have other colours, but they’ll be muted greys, beiges, blues ..and so often there’ll be a bit of red shining through from somewhere, whether that be a wash of lipstick, a hat, some flowers or a striking red dress.
at the beginning of the book there’s a foreword by iman, and following that, a good portion of text by robin muir (who put together this book, and written others, as well as curated major photography exhibitions). throughout the book there are portions of text about the era each set of photos was taken in – the sixties, seventies, etc.
even though it’s largely obvious from the fashion, it’s still nice to know when the photos were taken, even though this text could have easily been left out. what this book has alongside each photo – something which i hugely appreciate in art and photography books – is the names of the people in the photos, and when it was taken. the text is quite small though so could be missed. handy if you want to look up more photos of said person!
quite a few of the photos within this book are very iconic norman parkinson photos, though there are are a few recognisable ones left out. to make up for there’s there’s plenty of photos i’ve personally never seen before, so it was a real treat to look at them.
i have the paperback version of the book which was released in 2010, but i think there’s been a newer version released following an exhibition. i don’t know if it differs much from this version. it’s a very nice size, perfect to show the photos well, and is easy to hold too. most of the photos are full page, and there’s a few double spreads too, which is lovely, and much better than squashing them into a smaller image on one page to save space.
if you’re a fan of norman parkinson, or are just interested in looking at fantastic, unique and iconic photos from the thirties to the eighties i’d definitely recommend this book. those interested in fashion from times gone by would appreciate it too!