iN-STore Book Review #3 ... Bill Stott - "The Crazy World of Photography".

 8th March, 2011

As the biblio-behemoths Borders and Angus & Robertsons stumble and crash like a Subbies tight head at the call of 'Last Drinks', Nowhere Man figured it might very well be a good time to attempt the third in his sneeky series of in store book reviews. The reasoning being that those pesky store detectives with their Dirty Harry ways may just be internally consumed, distracted perhaps with whether or not they're going to be corporately diddled out of their severance pay.. I mean why, at this time, would they be bothered with a disheveled, middle aged guy just trying to shield his person from the dark ceiling bubble of Orwellian intrusion... and possibly attempting to write a little note or two on the sly... beats me, but what can I tell you, I was wrong, I was very wrong - the estimated review time narrowed to a skinny 67 seconds and the resultant interrogation period was both willing and aerobic. Dancing with the A to Z pressed hard up against my kidneys, yellowy tom toms to an alpha dude jam session in which the guest (that's me) got to howl the blues with tremendous conviction, whilst a little wire bound notebook tucked surreptiously into the withered elastic of a slightly soiled left sock housed the hurriedly scrawled notes on the selected book ... 

"The Crazy World of Photography"

This A5 sized book of witty pen & ink observation opens to a beautifully purplesque inside cover before you are lead gently by the funny bone through 80 or 90 photography themed cartoons by the *droll* Englishman Bill Stott. First published in 1987 and printed and bound in Budapest, many of these works initially graced the pages of the photographic magazine, “Camera Weekly” where readers must have guffawed and thigh slapped fulsomely between bikini clad Minolta XG-1 advertisements and sound advice on the perils of reciprocity failure, drying marks, dodgy extension rings or the like…

The collection begins hopefully with the depiction of a baby in it’s high chair receiving a gift of a brand new camera from his dad – and concludes a whole bunch of pages later with appropriate pathos and metaphorical grist as we share the abject frustration of a frazzled (dare I say defeated) photographer and his wife, confronted tragically by the trauma of an exploding SLR (something of course we can all identify with – an acquaintance of mine actually lost an arm back in the risky Ricoh period of 1991).

I must admit that I found these concisely drawn little slices of the photographic life to be as amusing as Slocumesque reruns of “Are You Being Served”, however unlike Mr Humphries, this book is not ‘free’. If you hunt around on e bay - $4.50 + shipping seems a fair sort of price, although I've been alerted to the fact that it's going for as cheap as $2.99 from Awesome Books USA

  This volume is a must for all serious collectors of the photographic book (as it may just help alleviate some of that pesky seriousness). The “Crazy World of Photography” contains not a single photograph and yet manages to impart all the wisdom & light hearted entertainment of a Leonard Cohen/Nick Cave duet. I recommend you purchase this book, settle back into the brightly coloured bean bag and relive the carefree and gloriously nonsensical days of the pre digital age.   


* Whilst using the word 'droll' in this review, Nowhere Man would like to acknowledge the assistance of legendary Australian documentary photographer Robert McFarlane. 

Robert kindly incorporated the word ‘droll’ into a recent e mail – awakening me to the possibilities of this five lettered gem which in recent years, I must admit, in a purely vocab’ sense, I’ve shamefully overlooked. Droll deficiency (like Droll dependence and all things Droll really) is no laughing matter. Rest assured however, supplements and/or boosters shall be immediately employed to remedy this descriptive imbalance. And you know I really do enjoy all facets of the word, from its literal definition, right through to the audio sensory tone of its somewhat sardonic deliverance. I think a case could almost be mounted for borderline onomatopoeic categorization. And furthermore …if I were to ever follow in the mono monikered footsteps of high profiled single taggers such as Weegee, Pink, Basquiat etc, I’d more than likely secure the name, ‘Droll’ all for myself. Hell, it might even be worth looking into setting up a philosophical grouping of fellow – faintly amusing, quietly strange people – and calling it The Drollness Society. I mean can you just imagine an army of understated volunteers rattling on the nation’s front door knocker throughout the annually designated ‘Droll Toll Day’, exclaiming hopefully from behind somewhat wry expressions, “Hi, I’m from the Drollness Society … could you possibly spare any loose change … or barring that, a mildly amusing personal anecdote?”

… Yeah, probably not.

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