Four years ago, I was interviewing Vasco Trancoso. I invite you to reread the Blog written at the time here. This week I had the pleasure of receiving his first photo book printed in 1000 copies published at the end of last year. In the meantime, an unprecedented health crisis began, making it impossible to find the book in all the good shops. However, you can get your hands on it by sending to him an email. I will give you all the details at the end of the article.
Vasco is one of the few photographers whose work I continue to follow via his Instagram page and also via his HEAVENLY Blog. I have followed his photographic journey over the past four years. It is the one that manages to reconcile me with the Light/Shadow genre that I keep denouncing in my Blogs. I watched with great curiosity and pleasure 99. Pleasure because I know almost all of the 99 photos in this photobook and seeing them print makes them even more sublime. When I realize that some have only seen them on Instagram which does not even allow to see the photos in full screen … A mess! Curiosity because for some time now, I no longer look at photobooks the same way. To be honest, I have been working for some time on a potential photo book that I would like to make. I’m not talking about publishing because I don’t want to embark on a project of such magnitude that would require too much investment and I’m not sure there is any interest in my work. It would rather be a personal book from my Aix period.
What interested me in 99 was to see how Vasco had done his editing work and then how he had sequenced his photos. A photobook is not just a Best Of. Of course we try to put in a book your best achievements, but sometimes some photos, as good as they are, are eliminated from the editing because they do not stick with the theme addressed in the book . Here clearly, the guiding line of the book is light and the way it illuminates and transforms a scene. Another feature of the book is that the bulk of the photos were taken in his town of Caldas da Reinah in Portugal. What makes this project very personal. I started studying some of the photo books that I have in my library: The Americans by Robert Frank and also The Human Fragment by Michael Ernest Sweet. Again, I focused more on studying the sequencing of the photos. I didn’t have my hand on the editing because I don’t know all the photos made by these two photographers for the specific project.
In the case of Vasco, I am fortunate to be able to access his HEAVENLY Blog which brings together most of his work (at least what Vasco has decided to showcase …) and I can tell you that the work of Editing must have been tedious because there are a lot of photos on his Blog … Besides, there are many photos that do not appear in 99 and which are really very beautiful photos. But that’s also what editing is about. Knowing how to select the best photos for the project you want to carry out and not just simply select the most beautiful photos. Sequencing is then a big part of making a book. There has to be rhythm, that the photos respond to each other. I will show through some very specific examples what I noted in 99 by Vasco Trancoso.
Here are plate 8 & 9. These two photos seem to echo each other with this yellow canvas and the wall of a similar color. These two silhouettes also have a similar gesture. I do not deliberately dwell on the photos themselves. The purpose of this Blog is elsewhere.
On these plates 2 & 3, we have a summary of what we will often find in 99. Children are very present in this book. Here these two photos are echoed with a strong contrast with bright colors and a predominance of shadow. On the left a little boy drowned in this semi-darkness and on the right a little boy also plunged in the shade. But this time it’s a mannequin. Real life and fake life.
On these plates 49 & 50, we still find children who are, as I said, very present in 99. These boards are juxtaposed for an obvious reason that I do not need to mention here.
Here, it is the flowers that are staged brilliantly. I particularly like how his photos by their framing offer a lot of mystery by not showing the faces of the protagonists.
Sometimes you have to know how to break the rhythm and not put the boards side by side, even if in the end there is an element common to the two photos, namely the dog. These two photos are alone on the right page whereas they could coexist on the same double page. I think this deliberate choice gives more importance to each of the photos individually, but forces the reader to also go back to the previous page to realize that even if these photos are not on the same double page, they nevertheless communicate between them.
Again on this double page, the photos speak to each other.
On this last example, we have human fragments emerging from the shadows. We have recurring elements. Hands, umbrellas. These two photos are both enigmatic in their conception. Vasco does not show everything and leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
I still have a lot to discover about the sequencing of his photos, but beyond the technical aspect, 99 is really a very beautiful photo book. I warmly thank Vasco for having dedicated his first Photobook to me. I think he must have felt a sense of fullness after successfully completing this book. It is an achievement to see your photos printed and to be able to share them with others.
For me, things are progressing very slowly. The most complicated being to find a guideline for the photo book. Making a book on Aix-en-Provence as the only common thread will not work, even if in the end it is indeed a book on my 4 years in Aix that I want to make. I have already decided to make a monochrome book by eliminating all color photos and reworking some in Black & White. I also need to have consistency in post-processing. What forces me to rework some old photos which had a too aggressive post-processing … I have enough knowledge of InDesign to create a pdf project ready to be printed. I just have to find the guiding idea of the book and succeed in the editing and sequencing …. Basically everything ! Stay tuned, release planned for the next 10 years!