I recently discovered an absolutely fantastic new blog. Unlike my rambling entries, 5B4 focuses on a single subject – photography books. None other than John Gossage has called it “the best Photobook blog on the web.”
Overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the posts, I wanted to know more about the author. But apparently he doesn’t want to be known. He doesn’t offer a profile and usually refers to himself as ‘Mr Whiskets.’
But after poking around I figured out that 5B4 is written by the photographer Jeffrey Ladd. I first came across Ladd’s work a few years ago. He is an artist of depth, sophistication and restraint. This last quality, I suspect, is why Ladd isn’t better known. Mr. Whiskets doesn’t beg for attention.
Though his work hasn’t found a publisher, Ladd channels his love of photography books into the production of his own artist books:
Ladd’s first post on 5B4 was on Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s two-volume History of the Photobook. Ladd notes the way in which this recent attention has intensified the photobook as commercial collectible.
Martin Parr recently gave me a copy of his new book, Parking Spaces. By signing the book on the cellophane wrapper, Parr forces a quandary: Which is more valuable, the signed collectible or the book itself?
A couple of nights ago I had dinner with Parr and his fellow arbiter of history, Gerry Badger. Sitting next to Gerry was the terrific photographer Peter Fraser:
Like Ladd, Fraser strikes me as a photographer of patience and modesty. His recent monograph (by Nazraeli press, with an essay by Gerry Badger) is complex, refined and understated.
My recommendation is to buy two copies. Enjoy one and keep the other in the cellophane.