Here is another in a long series of great photography books from National Geographic, Simply Beautiful Photographs by Annie Griffiths. I was pleased to receive a review copy. Annie picked images from all of the Society's core mission areas: exploration, wildlife, cultures, science, and nature. Each chapter covers a “specific aspect of what creates beauty in a photograph, whether light or color, or motion, and illuminates that quality in a splash of large-format images —most of which readers will be able to purchase as prints. Musings on visual beauty from scholars and poets enhance the experience.”
This must have been a fun assignment given the rich depth of the National Geographic photo archives. It is certainly fun to look at what she came up with. The chapters are: light, composition, moment, time. palette, and wonder. Many of the photos span across two pages of the large format book. Among other things it shows the diversity of beauty with the world and the people who live in it.
I was especially drawn into the Composition chapter as I am always mentally composing pictures as I walk around and this gave we some new ideas to consider. It begins appropriately with a quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson, the master of composition. I loved the contrast of a single black muddy road through a white field of snow followed by a busy Asian marketplace. An image from Sam Abell follows with an archway of trees over a dirt drive. I have interviewed Sam before about his composition process. Later a large group of white pelicans navigate the curve in a dark river through a grassy march. A curving street in Lisbon provides a stage for a variety of people. The great images go on and on. Annie provides photo she took of a bicycle in front of a fruit stand in the rural UK.
The Moment chapter captures those fleeting instances that photography is unique in its ability to capture. Nuns play volleyball. A whale surfaces and a gorilla considers a leaf. The Time chapter shows image sin motion, often with a blur. The tango dancers surrounded by motion is a great example.
The palette chapter shows images with a strong color sense, often in the same color, sometimes with contrasting colors. A lone red umbrella in a large green Japanese garden is a good example of this interplay. Another red umbrella is seen in a blur of snow in a largely black and white image of Chinese workers.
The wonder chapter is true to its name with images that cause a close look such as a group of seemingly dancing humpback whales. An exploding volcano in Hawaii is followed by the northern lights in Canada.
This is a comprehensive collection of images that will not disappoint. It will draw you in for many viewing.