Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern

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Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern

Buy Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Travel
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Full page, colour photos chronicling the photographer's trip to Zimbabwe.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 126 Date: December 2010
Publisher: MX Publishing
ISBN: 978-190768570

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I'm a bit of an amateur photographer, and since the advent of digital cameras, I always come back from holidays with thousands of photos, over-excited by the fact that I am no longer limited to 24 or 36 exposure films! I enjoy, therefore, flicking through photography books, to see the images that have captured someone else's imagination and to see if I can pick up any interesting framing ideas, or subject settings.

I found, unfortunately, that I was quite disappointed by this book. Rather than a glossy, coffee table book that I would pick up and put down with pleasure, or just sit and pore over a favourite image, it felt rather amateur. Although all the images are full colour, and each one takes a whole page, they're printed in matt and don't look vastly better in quality than those I can print from my own printer. The contrast levels don't seem to be right on some of the photos, and details are lost in darkness. There were also too many double-page spreads containing one photo in portrait and one in landscape which might not be a problem for some people but which drove me mad turning the book back and forth to look at the pictures the right way round!

There are some really lovely shots though. I think the best ones were most often of people: a child with his mother, a small boy in a market, groups of friends, a woman dancing. I like close up portrait work, and there's a steady sense of joy that can be felt coming from some of his subjects, and a thousand untold stories that you can see in their eyes. Other photographs chronicle places he visited, food and flowers. They all come with a brief description, such as Architecture old and new, Harare. I thought that it would have been nice, perhaps, to have had something longer at times to explain the photographer's travels more, things he'd seen and found interesting or stories he'd heard from the people he met.

There are some obligatory safari animal shots, but I didn't think they were as good as his close up portraits. There are also several of Victoria Falls which must surely be awesome to behold but somehow felt a little cold on the page. The book gives a flavour of Zimbabwe, yet it has the feel of some one's holiday pictures rather than a work of art. I think it would have benefited from being edited more, cutting down the number of pictures to allow for a better quality of printing. For the price of the book, I would have expected something better, hence the suggestion that if you're interested in Zimbabwe then this is one to borrow rather than buy.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For more about Zimbabwe try When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin or The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Lauren Liebenberg. You might also enjoy A Child Called Happiness by Stephan Collishaw.

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Buy Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zimbabwe in Pictures by Keith Hern at Amazon.com.


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Steve Emecz (publisher) said:

Zimbabwe In Pictures (ZIP) uses the latest in print-on-demand colour printing technology that enables us to offer such a niche book worldwide to a global audience. In glossy coffee table format with large print runs and a centralised stock simply would not be viable as the volumes won't justify it. The next book in the series covering Guatemala and Belize will break new ground for those countries too, and perhaps be even more niche than Zimbabwe. The new world of colour printing is enabling us to take on projects like this that will have small volumes - and excitingly also release them as eBooks - try ZIP on the Amazon Kindle on a PC or iPad and you will see the pictures in incredible detail. Reaction to this groundbreaking project has been excellent with plaudits from around the world - in fact, the printers Ingram have asked to use ZIP as a sample to demonstrate what on-demand printing is capable of. We'd love to do ZIP as a hardback gloss print but would need a large corporate sponsor to do that to underwrite the stock.