Light Reading: The Cool and the Colorless

by Jim Cornfield

April 16, 2015

by Christopher Makos, edited by Peter Wise

There’s a cautionary subtext in this diverse amalgamation of portraits, travel shots, street photography, abstracts and more: do not allow our collective universal fixation on color imaging stifle your inner black-and-white shooter.

Christopher Makos’ book reminds us that color isn’t necessarily the vital ingredient in the imagery of an era. Photo © 2014 Christopher Makos/Glitterati Incorporated 

Judging from this interesting collection, widely published veteran Christopher Makos has never even heard of color. Of course, that’s not the case, but he launched a successful career back in the analog era, and his brash approach to every imaginable subject is an eloquent reminder of the power of the medium. Three of the book’s 250 images almost demand treatment in color—a shirtless, clearly bronze male figure, a bright Cadillac against the blue-black sky of Palm Beach, Florida, and the parallel rows of creamy pink marble statuary atop Milan’s great cathedral, the Duomo. Yet Makos treats these subjects quite successfully as graphic shapes, familiar to us but abstracted by the dramatic, reductive power of black and white.

Shooters from any era will find inspiration in this versatile photographer’s ability to transition seamlessly from the studio to the street, from artificial to natural lighting, from people and puppies to garish automotive grillwork—all in living black and white.


by Jessica Yatrofsky
powerHouse Books, 96pp | $30

In a collection of frank, simply staged portraits, Jessica Yatrofsky asks viewers to examine a new paradigm in the look and cultural mannerism of modern young womanhood. The subjects are posed in scant clothing, some nude, individually and in pairs, all with neutral expressions that suggest both the power of this new interpretation of femaleness and vulnerability. There are hints of counter-culture vernacular—tattoos, piercings, a lock of candy-colored hair here and there—and overriding the whole series is a kind of adamant resistance to conventional, sexualized norms of style and attitude. Yatrofsky is a New York-based filmmaker and fashion photographer who concentrates on what her publicist lists as “body politics, beauty and gender.” Here, she intentionally allows her imagery to walk a thin line between cool, forthright works of art and slightly raw, clinical studies. That balancing act alone is reason enough to add this bold little book to your photographic library.


by Mario Testino with Patrick Kinmonth and Pierre Borhan
Taschen, 456pp | $700

Publisher Taschen brings us the work of superstar fashion photographer Mario Testino in this elegant book that examines the changing facets of male identity over the last three decades. With text by Patrick Kinmonth—who first commissioned a young Testino to shoot for British Vogue—the images of film stars, rock musicians and athletes are heightened by Testino’s acute sensitivity to the nuances of contemporary masculinity, which Testino says has “changed in recent years.” This limited-edition autographed version slip-cased in metal will no doubt be followed by a more affordable edition for us common folk.

Related Links

Light Reading: Harnessing the Best Storytelling Moments

Light Reading: Gowns, Guitars and the Gamut of Flash

Light Reading: New Year, New Titles

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