Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Joan Colom

Joan Colom is Spanish (Catalan) photographer from Barcelona.
Born in 1921, he started taking street pictures in the "red lights" district El Barrio Chino (i.e. Chinatown, now "Raval") at the age of 37.
He had a day time job in accounting and use to shoot during weekends.
I love his style partially because of my addiction to shooting candids "from the hip".
Almost all of his images from 1958 to 1964 were shot "clandestine".
He did this because he tried to capture something very elusive: the glances, gestures, grimaces, poses, all king of people-to people interactions.
He wanted for his pictures to be emotional and alive, to capture the life in its moments and let it live in the photographic form forever.
And he succeeded.
I do not know any other photographer of the time so dedicated to this idea of capturing moments of life as Joan Colom was.
Here is he shooting in Raval with his Leica M2:

You see why the most of his pictures are verticals (i.e. "portrait" orientation).

The story of his life met a dramatic turn in 1964, when he and his friend Camilo José Cela published a book ("Izas, Rabizas y Colipoterras"). The book was heavily criticized in the official Franco-time press and for long years Joan Colom went off the public eye. He never stopped taking pictures but what he is famous for now is his early works.

I recenly bought 2 of his books from Amazon. One is "Raval":


If you after Colom's pictures, this is the book to buy. The quality of the print and binding is great; the choice of the pictures is excellent.

The second book is "Album":


This is very special book, the facsimile edition of a photo album Joan Colom prepared for Josep Maria Casademont in mid-1960s; he printed, cropped and assembled the pictures himself and because of this the book is very different from "Raval" even despite the fact that the most of the pictures in the book are the same. The printing quality is amazing and if you like "Raval" you are going to need this one, too.

Now, let's look at the pictures:

1 comment:

  1. one of my biggest insperations. and how i got intruduced to the leica camera and street photo. living legand.