Monday, April 13, 2015

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James : A Review


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BOOK TITLE: Bridges of Paris
ISBN: 1928595502     
AUTHOR: Michael Saint James
GENRE: Non-Fiction – Coffee Table photography
NUMBER OF PAGES: 280
FORMAT: Hardbound large-format
SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: ARC as a part of iRead book tours. Thanks Laura & Mr.James for sending along this breath-taking book.
SUMMARY: Bridges of Paris is a large-format photography book with over 350 original color images which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you've experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again. Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.
REVIEW:
For once the adage “Never judge a book by its cover” failed. From the photo on the cover, I knew I could expect sheer brilliant photographs from this photographer/educator. The lighting, the angle of focus and the color intensity of the cover was just perfect.
The book began with a note from writer describing his journey as a Parisian – it is evident from this account that the photographer indeed was passionate about his mission to capture the beautiful bridges of Paris. The note was followed by a brief and captivating account of the history of the city in chronological order.
My fascination of Paris started when I was in my kindergarten when my teacher gifted me a book titled “Places of Paris” for my performance in a particular play (theatre). The book contained photos of various beautiful architectural marvels of Paris. I’ve cherished that book. When this beautiful hardbound large format book landed, my love for Paris and it’s beauty multiplied. This book was akin to my Christmas present, just that it landed a wee later than the occasion. Reviewing a non-fiction book for me is a personal challenge. Diving in…………………………
1)   Theme: Photographs of various architectural marvels/bas-reliefs/Landmarks/Cafes of Paris are quite common. Bridges! A vital piece of construction which aren’t as famous as other structures. After all, it’s just another bridge that connects two communities.  Mr.James scores right away by picking such a commonly uncommon theme!
2)   Photos: the most vital component of the book. Most of the photos were very simply mind blowing for a commoner like me. Technically I might not be the right person to comment on aspects like exposure, perspective etc, but pleasing a commoner like me is difficult. Picking a favourite is simply difficult, yet here is small list of “Examples” of what I liked,
1)   Pont Notre Dame – The lush greenery left me longing for more. Perfectly timed shot when the water had no ripples at all!
2)   Pont Saint Michael – The beautifully eerie grey cloud looming over the bridge presented a gloomy picture. Perfectly captured shot with the right amount of light.
3)   Pont D’Arocole – Romantic Shot. The only photo of from the entire book that made me want to find true love and experience it on that particular bridge.
4)   Pont Louis Philippe – Breath-taking picture. The beautiful golden glimmer over water reminded me of a fairy tale.
5)   Passerelle Debilly – The arch bridge with the background of Eiffel Tower- Classic night time illuminated shot & the picture with a rainbow – The photographer is one extremely talented and patient man!
6)   Format – The photographer did a sensible job of explaining the history of the bridge and also pointing it out on the map. He also added details of when the bridge of constructed, its length & width, number of arches and usage. This format ensured that the readers weren’t left simply gazing at the photos. The bridges were split into 4 types – Island, Palace, Down River and Upriver bridges. This gave a better context to subject in focus.
7)   Color Scheme of the layout – Some photos filled the entire page sans a colored frame, while some photos had a black frame and some a white frame. I felt a black frame would have suited all the photos.
I do have a couple of suggestions of what could have been better though – The Photos taken in the night that have vehicle movement and gave that light travel effect (Not sure of the technical term) seemed a bit too “electronic” and slick for my taste, I prefer warmer/richer shots for the city is such!
The upriver bridges are the modern bridges constructed recently,that seemed quite out of place amidst the traditional beauties!
VERDICT: Breath-taking collection of mind-blowing photographs that surely is worth being cherished.
RATING: 5 on 5
NOTE : THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS A SAMPLE OF WHAT I ENJOYED ALONG WITH A CHANCE TO WIN THE BOOK! DON'T MISS IT!


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