The retrospective monograph The Photographs of Frederick H. Evans, curated by Anne Lyden and complemented by Hope Kingsley's essay, provides a wonderful tribute to this renowned English photographer.
Evans was an active photographer from the early 1880's well into the 1930's. Although his subjects ranged from portraits to the rural landscape and English country homes, he is best known for his poetic photographs of English and French cathedrals. Evans' aesthetic interpretations of these "great ecclesiastical sites" were praised by Alfred Stieglitz, who featured Evans photographs and writings in his journal Camera Work (issue #4, 1904) and exhibited Evans photographs at his "291" gallery in New York in 1906.The book includes photographs from Evans' entire body of work.
Even though I have seen Evans' "A Sea of Steps" (Stairs to the Chapter House, Wells Cathedral, 1903) countless times, it still remains one of my favorite Evans photographs and I still consider it amazing tour de force. This one photograph seems to embody all of the aesthetic beauty that Evans aspired a photographic print to achieve.
Evans photographic techniques and style laid the foundation for the practice of pre-visualization and the concepts behind the zone system. His idea of the aesthetic appreciation of the photographic print as an object has largely influenced modern practices of matting and display of photographic prints. Thus many of the book's interior plates illustrate Evans' photographs in the context of the multi-tiered mattes that he chooses to complement and enhance the experience of a specific photographic image.
The book is printed on luster paper and although the interior printed plates are unvarnished, the resulting images have a beautifully long tonal range. Though probably not equal to the original, it provides a wonderful appreciation of Evans evocative photographs. Each interior image has been printed as close as possible to the color tint of the original platinum print, with a full range of pale yellow, light greens, hints of rose and a full variety of grays, enhancing the reading experience of the book and a further appreciation of Evans' photographs.
Douglas Stockdale is a photographer, author and writer when not working his day job. His photographic projects and stories explore questions from our dreams, experiences and memories. His first self-published book is In Passing and he recently completed his latest photo-project Insomnia: Hotel Noir. He is a photobook critic with his own photo-blog, The PhotoBook, available at www.thephotobook.wordpress.com. Douglas’s web site is www.douglasstockdale.com and can be contacted at email@example.com.