|Page 28||Book Reviews Non-Fiction||November 2009|
By Alidė Kohlhaas
Andrew Zuckerman has a way of using his lens to bring out the very best in birds as his latest effort, Bird, proves. His images make one feel that we will lose much if they were ever to vanish from our world, something that is, sadly, possible.
Our feathery friends are an everyday presence in my life. I watch them without trying to because they perch on the tips of tree branches waving in front of the windows where I produce my daily writing chores. They visit the feeders in my garden or feed on the ground in the meadow that spreads at the back of the house. To some, these every-day birds may seem exotic, such as the tiny hummingbirds or the giant wild turkeys, the many kinds of hawks and the turkey vultures sailing in the sky. To me they are simply a joy that I am privileged to experience without making an effort to watch them or to hear their songs.
One thing is clear, the majesty of birds, big or small, exotic or plain, cannot be denied. After all, have humans not desired to imitate them for millennia, wanting to find ways to fly? And it is this majesty that Zuckerman has captured in his amazing book with its simple title "Bird".
True, most of the birds he captured with his camera for this book can be classified as exotics, though there are quite a few humble birds among them. What makes his photographs so special, however, and shows off the subjects' majesty, their dignity, their individuality is the manner in which he chose to capture them with his camera. They are true portraits that allow us to marvel, to connect with these beautiful creatures.
Zuckerman visited aviaries in many places to catch the birds in flight or any other poses out of the unusual that shows off their specific character. He uses a technique he invented that allows him to take photographs with a white background. The bright light that he employs shows off the tiniest detail of a bird's feathers and their colors, its beak, feet and legs as no one can ever hope to capture in the wild. There is nothing else in the picture to detract our senses. Only the bird counts.
In this book, presented in a 12"x12" coffee table book size, an excellent designer, David Meredith, helped bring out the dramatic effect of Zuckerman's photography. Some images are presented in double page spreads, sometimes only a part of the bird is presented to give us the full impact of the plumage. These are intimate images, which makes one want to touch the birds.
Sadly, because of the size of the pages, it is impossible to reproduce most of them with this review for fear of damaging the book. Suffice it to say, that this is one book worth having if you love birds, or if you like great photography and design. There is a total of 74 birds reproduced in multiple images that give us unexpected insight into their nature.
There is only an introduction written by the renowned designer, Massimo Vignelli, and an epilog by the book's producer, Alex Vlack, contained in the book. No other text takes our eyes off the images, not even a page number. For the viewer's convenience a visual index with the names of the birds reproduced there is located at the back of the book, followed by the usual acknowledgments. That's all. The "Bird" here is supreme in all its splendor and majesty.