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A picture is worth 1,000 words.

Book Review: Harald Mante: Photography Unplugged by Harald Woeste

Harald Mante is a highly respected photographer and one of the most distinguished teachers of the photographic arts in Germany. He is a master of the field and is internationally recognized. He has published a number of books including the Mante: Das Photo, which has been recently translated into English as The Photograph: Composition and Color

Harald Mante: Photography Unplugged is his latest book, a large bound volume that can serve effectively a coffee table book. It contains a wide sampling of his diverse work. The book is 12" x 9.7" and is 208 pages in length. Outside of a brief foreword by the publisher, a short acknowledgement on the death of Kodachrome film that took place just before this book went to print, and a timeline biography at the end of the book, there are very few words.

The layout is one print per page, nicely centered, with a clean white background. Each piece has the location and the year that it was taken listed at the bottom of the page. The colors are vivid and are the centerpiece of each of his compositions. This color is something that you would expect from the Kodachrome film.

Sometimes the subjects are immediately apparent, and other times they are not. They sometimes they are just colorful shapes. In all cases they draw interest.

And that is the real point of Photography Unplugged. These are not images that have been Photoshoped. There is none of the usual manipulation. Rather this is composition at its finest. In its pure state of what you see is what you get.

You sometimes have themes that flow through the images. Objects that look like faces, studies of shadows, abstract reflections of color and distortions in mirrors, unusual views from windows and balconies, wisps of clouds, merchant door fronts, people from the waist down, people walking away, the back ends of cars, distressed area's buildings, and many other subjects. The list goes on.

In fact, that is one of the tendencies of Harald Mante is that he collects things. In his vast collection of photographic imagery that has spanned 50 of his 73 years, he has put together over 150 thematic collections and Harald Mante: Photography Unplugged is feast for the eyes into many of them.

When I said that there are very few words in this book, I may be disingenuous. As the old saying goes that a picture is worth 1,000 words, and considering that there are 193 pages of pictures that span a lifetime, then this book has more words than most. If your intention is that you really want to learn about composing an image, this book fills volumes.

One other note, I said that all of these images were done on Kodachrome film and that in his intro Professor Mante had an acknowledgement of the death of the film. For those of us who embrace the digital world, yet still cut our teeth on film, this is a bittersweet reality. While we are in the dawn of a new era, Kodachrome still makes "Makes you think all the world's a sunny day".

I very highly recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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