Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Heart of Photography is Openness - A Book Review

I just bought a photo book that I love. It is "Small Island, Big Pictures" by Alexandra de Steiguer. Alex has spent sixteen winters as caretaker on a group of islands off the New England coast, alone. She thinks, explores, writes and photographs with a medium format camera. Her photographs are nothing short of wonderful. The written part is spare, like the winter islands she photographs, an appropriate compliment to the images without distracting from the visual experience. And that's what this book is, a visual experience of a place at a time that (mostly) only she sees.

Discussing her photography she says that even the making of the photographs can be an intrusion on the experience of being there and that "Without the camera, I loved being outside. It didn't matter that the light be 'just right', or the day dramatic. Only with the camera was there a certain expectation. I spent more time looking than appreciating, more time searching than seeing."  I know the feeling. Probably the most important 'trick' or technique a photographer can learn is to see through the camera as if it weren't there. To reach the point when the camera is merely a note taking tool, a means of saving a moment in time and space. That is the real craft of photography at its finest and Alex de Steiguer has mastered it in this fine collection of images.

The book is available through Her website URL is

The usual disclaimer: I do not know Alex de Steiguer. I requested and received her permission to use the photo above in this review which I chose to write wholly of my own accord after purchasing the book. The photograph is the property of Alex de Steiguer and the review is copyrighted by me. She may use it if and as she wishes, all others are prohibited from reposting without permission.


  1. Anonymous1:49 PM

    Jim, Your readers might be interested that Alex has a Kickstarter going to raise funds for an album of her original music... it was all written on the isles of shoals over the last decade or so. Hear snippets of the scratch tracks at

  2. Yes, I know. She just wrote to me and I have pledged support for the project. Please see my latest post.