Passing trough by Douglas Kent Hall

I got this book as a birthday gift from one of hubbys friends. It’s a very soothing book to read and view. There’s most definitely more words then most photography books I’ve come across, but to me the amount was just perfect. I enjoy getting a deeper look into the mind of the person who shot the images. Why, where and when.

Here’s my review of the book.

The book contains 9 projects that the photographer has done. All shot in analog, each connected to humans, while at the same time working as an personal journey to understand the world around us.

The introduction is written by a man named Alfred Bush. He points out how it has become a tradition to photograph the locations and subjects in which Doug has chosen to depict, which also happens to be a culture and scene he was born into; The Cowboy life. He then goes on to mention briefly about Daguerre and Talbot, what their invention has done to mankind, and especially the negative along with it’s reproduction abilities. He also introduces us to the photographers background.

ONE – Passing

Shots of peoples reaction to him shooting them while passing by their car. In his brief intro text to the series he mentions one of his personal principles he calls “Passing”, the duality of it and how much he enjoys this proclamation. You can trace his schooling years of writing and the passion that still persists. A quote from the text: We pass trough time and we waste only ourselves.

TWO – Collaboration

In this intro text he’s humble by saying that he is mare the person with the camera, and that all images are collaborations and not a single persons pride. He also mentions that no gear or tools are superior to another since they all have their purpose and it all depends on the vision of the creators. All tools are valid. Rules and restrictions has also helped him push forward, when speaking about the somewhat precise methods that has to be used in order to develop an image. He is not a fan of being a gear nerd or any sort of scientist, but he enjoys the more strict steps one need to take to have a physical image in once hand. This chapter contains nudity.

THREE – Revelation

“I am a romantic and I hope I’m incurable.”

This chapter he goes on to say that even if the scientific necessary steps are needed he still treats every single images as a piece of art. He also reveals that his subject of interest since the beginning as always been humans. Starting with shooting bands and then continuing on with groups of people living on the edge of “normal”. This chapter contains many portraits among them Jimi Hendrix (the music my dad played when I grew up).

FOUR – Suspended

This project had a profound impact on him and his art, he said. Even if he’s shooting inmates in this project he draws parallels to his “passing” project with people in cars. Due to the fact that we are all just passing trough time. No matter what our current situation is.

FIVE – Confrontation

Doug confronts his fantasies in this project. Going into it and realising that the images of how a cowboy should be maybe changes or not as initially believed. He also talks about what he want an image to convey: “I want it to stand before me and leave me speechless”. This series may be one of my favourites, cause the portraits are like taken straight out of an old cowboy movie. The tonal range is so dreamy, even if the obvious love for deep shadows are precent, the mid-tones make you want to keep looking cause you might find something new.

SIX – Enigma

Shooting the border between US and Mexico. It seems like he finds strength in realising the dark side of things. Maybe that pushes him to do more projects related to groups of people “living on the edge of normal”.

SEVEN – Meditation

We get to know him more and more (thankfully) and one surprise (maybe) is that he enjoyed reading books by zen masters. Maybe is there meditation in shooting landscapes. De-cluttering an image from people an all of it’s attributes. He quotes on of his favourite books in this chapter and my favourite part of that quote is: “… you may suppose that time is only passing away, and not understand that it never arrives.” It’s such a beautiful and soothing realisation that one don’t need to stress cause there is no end to time.

EIGHT – Silence

This project is about native Americans and his changed perspective of what whey mean to him personally. How he was told one description and with the years learned what he now consider the truth about their culture and importans. The portraits in this project are so expressive and hold so much character. Love.

NINE – Mysteries

Here he does a series on Matachines and their rituals. It’s something new for me. Never heard of them before and to see images from this cultural and historical tradition was fun.

So, my personal opinion about this book is a positive one. It’s easy to digest and if you want to you can dig deeper. But, I enjoy the fact that it wasn’t to heavy and that he took his time to write something about each project. Instead of just putting all his work in one book and say something like “it’s up to the viewer to interpret”. Which I find that in todays society doesn’t cut it for me. When I go to an exhibition I want to know why this photograph was taken and for what reason. I know what I think… but only knowing and hearing what I think won’t help me grow as a person.



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