Right now anything that lifts the spirits is a most welcome diversion from the daily diet of disease and death. Some Light 2019 Photographs, she comes in colours… and I See You, three new photo books from David Runnacles, give just that lift.
Some Light is a medium format book, about A4 landscape, of black and white photographs. David describes it on the cover flap as the ‘Third Annual record of Saturday afternoon walks around Cambridge City centre’. He has sought to make ‘pictures that are quirky, ambiguous, busy and sometimes funny’ and has succeeded on all four counts. David evokes the strangeness and richness of life on the streets of Cambridge. He shows us the diversity there is in a comparatively small city and big part tourists play in the urban scene. It is also telling that many people are in worlds of their own – strange things are going on and multiple stories are woven into single images. Getting in close and using bold cropping gives a dramatic immediacy to many of the pictures. The title states the broader aim and David captures the sense that it’s about the light through contre-jour lighting and the creative use of reflective surfaces and materials – black and white works very well for this and the printing has achieved deep, rich tones.
she comes in colours… offers no explanatory text in this pocket size book, which speaks for itself. It works on two levels: as a celebration of pure colour; and as a celebration of the personal confidence and pride women have in making bold colour statements. It shows again David’s fine eye for the quirky. Sometimes it’s the sheer exuberance of the kaleidoscope of colours that makes the picture; sometimes it’s the simplicity of colour and design with no need for eccentricity. The focus on colour and women gives the whole book coherence. The print quality is excellent.
In I See You David writes: ‘I try to be invisible when street-snapping, but sometimes I am seen, eliciting various responses – amused, bemused, annoyed, and of course, the arms spread – leaning back – eyes and mouth open posture. Here is an assortment.’ This small bookworks on three levels: it’s good street photography capturing the ever-passing parade; it’s a reflection on the nature of street photography, the relationship between photographer and subjects; and foregrounding the people who are addressing the camera makes the pictures both portraits and street scenes. Two sociological phenomena emerge: most people are good humoured about being caught on camera; and children are more acute observers of what going on than we might give them credit for. I See You mixes colour and black and white photography in a variety of sizes and layouts, which give it a dynamism that fits the subject. Again, excellent print quality.
The formats of the three books work well. The larger size of Some Light brings out the complexity in the photographs and encourages close scrutiny of each one. The simpler thematic content is shown clearly in the smaller pictures in she comes in colours… and I See You – they are successful as monographs on a single aspect of street photography, an approach I particularly like in photo books.
So, great stuff Dave and some exciting departures from your excellent earlier books – new tricks from the old dog.