Can All of You Try To Get Along?

When it comes to my own books, the decision-making was a lot easier. First, I just want to be very far away from people who don’t like it.

We held a ‘board’ meeting at our new home early this afternoon and decided, on a vote of 2-0, that if we were to move again in future, we will hire professionals to pack and unpack everything.

Yes, everything.

Gosh, am I tired. And that is one of the reasons why I have opted to take a break from all the ‘actions’ to write a blog.

Physically, my legs hurt.

Mentally, oh my, where do I begin?

In one word – drained.

Do you have any idea how much effort I have put into this very important task of arranging my photo book collection?

(At this stage, I would like to invite those who dislike name-dropping and office politics to stop reading and click on to the Disney website at

First of all, I have decided against arranging the books by height because it is plain stupid and amateurish.

Second, arranging them by color of the spine is also out because these days, more and more designers like to imitate Paul Smith, who is famous for his multi-hue stripes.

Arranging authors by their agency would also be a dumb move because photographers, being photographers, are just a indecisive lot.

Take for example Eugene Richards, once represented by Magnum, he left, only to rejoin, and then to leave again. For a short while, he joined VII, and then he left them too. I really can’t be moving his books (I have quite a few because despite being indecisive, I think he is a brilliant photographer and even better writer.) every other year.

What I have decided in his case was to lump him with W. Eugene Smith, one of my favorites. To the right of Richards is James Nachtwey, and to Nachtwey’s right is Brazilian superstar Sebastio Salgado. (Oh dear, I just realized they are all ex-Magnum members.)

When it comes to Henri Cartier-Bresson, my first consideration was that he should be as far away from Martin Parr as possible. Whether or not he is close to Robert Capa and Martine Franck, to me, was secondary.

In this case, I placed Franck next to HCB, and Sarah Moon, reportedly one of HCB’s buddies, next to Franck, and at their extreme right, Capa.

Judging by the fact that two industry insiders like my latest Facebook status, I believe I have touched a raw nerve – women in photography. (Hmm, I think this is a topic that I should just address quickly and run.)

In one shelf, I have Mary Ellen Mark on the left and Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Donna Ferrato, Cindy Sherman, Susan Meiselas and Abigail Heyman on the right. When I last checked, there was a gulf of about six inches between Mark and the rest.

Still on the same topic, I have decided to put Annie Leibovitz far far away from everyone (men and women), and as far as I remember, she is stuck somewhere with some self-published photographers.

I have left Maggie Steber out of all the actions because I like her personally, and have made it a personal task to find her a good place.

In the spirit of jazzing things up, and blurring the agency divides, I have placed the books by Paolo Pellegrin, Stanley Greene and Tom Stoddart, in one shelf. To make sure they get some good guidance, I inserted in between them, titles by Don McCullin.

Right below them, I have put Chien-Chi Chang between his god-father Philip Jones Griffiths, and two other Magnumites that I believe he gets along with – Larry Towell and Chris Steele Perkins. No too far away from this group is Josef Koudelka, a choice I believe will be quite safe.

Now where did Parr go? Somewhere further up, but I need to check who his neighbors are after I finish with this blog.

I have, on another shelf, the likes of Mitch Epstein, Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stephen Shore, Robert Polidori and Sze Tsung Leong. Safe? You tell me.

Two shelves above the HCB group is one dedicated to Japanese photographers. Unfortunately, Daido Moriyama alone occupies more than half the space. I have Araki to his left, and Shomei Tomatsu to his right, followed by Hiroshi Sugimoto, who probably considers himself a different breed. I still haven’t decided where The Map by Kikuji Kawada should be.

When it comes to my own books, the decision-making was a lot easier. First, I just want to be very far away from people who don’t like it. Second, because there are so many leftover copies, I actually could fill two whole shelves on my own.

Last night, I was sleepless thinking whether photographers like Trent Parke and Jonas Bendiksen would be upset that I had grouped them together with their lesser-known fellow countrymen. I mean, these guys have made it to the big stage, surely they want to inspire their fellow citizens right?

Tonight, I don’t know what I will be obsessing about but I have a feeling it be somewhere along the line of “Is Luc Delahaye an artist or a photographer?”

It is now around 11:14pm Singapore time, if you see me updating this blog later, that means, I am perplexed and may be needing help.

I hope, for my own sanity, it won’t be that case. I really need to move on to my film and design collections which I know, warrants another blog.

Good night, and please, all of you titans and wannabes, try to get along. OK?