When You Want To Know And No-One Wants To Tell You…

RIPTPIAustralians! Do you remember The Printed Image Bookstore in Chapel Street, Prahran?

I do, and I pine for it – it was a real reason to get on the train from Flinders Street Station and wander up the back lanes. It was a real reason to save your money and to poke through to old and new books. There was photographic stuff there.

There was also stuff at secondhand bookstores in Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street and at Michaels camera shop. Not, I fear, no more. TPI, the secondhanders, and Michael’s book department have all gone the way of the regular bookstores – closed for some unfathomable reason. It is unfathomable because the thing that they sold – knowledge – is still needed and cannot be obtained on-line.

” Awk! “, I hear you cry, in a fair imitation of a Great Bustard eating a chicken taco, ” Awk and Eek! But you are writing on the internet yourself and I am reading this on-line! ”

So you are, but are you getting any damn knowledge – particularly about photography? Are you getting enough of it and in such a form that you can refer back to it repeatedly? Without plugging in an AC adapter and waiting for it to fire up and resetting the bastard Wifi network for the 50th time? Can you sit in the john and read this – without burning your knees with the laptop battery? No, you cannot. This is a flawed medium.

Contrast a book. Quiet. Light. Capable of being put down without waiting for it to shut off. Capable of being commenced without waiting for it to cycle through a series of Apple advertisements. Capable of being balanced in one hand while reloading a .44.

Photo books may not have the glowing colours of an overcooked website but they can have a lot more condensed good sense. You can read instructions faster than the writer can slowly talk you through them. Paper lighting diagrams are just as good as videos.

The major Melbourne bookstores all do have sections with some photo books, but not the technical ones that the older shops carried. The NVG has a good set of shelves as does the NGV at Flinders Square but they are more art than science and the price tags have been invented by the ambitious. We need something of the old supply network if we are to be able to still educate ourselves. As much as I admire  busty Amazons and hope for the ecological health of the Amazon, I do not want to have to be dependent upon amazon.com and FedEx for my art.


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