Book Review: Image Makers, Image Takers

Interviews are tricky. To be pulled off successfully, the interviewer needs the right balance of knowledge on the subject, connections to get access to the interviewees, and a knack for posing the right questions in a way that elicits deep and honest responses. In her book Image Takers, Image Makers, Anne-Celine Jaeger interviews “leading curators, editors, and photographers” on how they work, their thoughts on the medium, and what their advice is to aspiring photographers. The scope and insight of Image Takers, Image Makers makes it a must read for anyone with even a slight interest in contemporary photography.

About the Author

“Anne-Celine Jaeger is a journalist and critic who has written for many publications, including Wallpaper*, the London Sunday Times and the Guardian. Educated in Germany, she later graduated from the University of Oxford and then City University, London.” – From Image Makers, Image Takers

General Idea

One of my favourite things about Image Makers, Image Takers is its structure. The majority of the book consists of interviews with various photographers. Divided into genres such as Documentary, Art, Fashion, and Portraiture, Jaeger interviews leaders in each field. These include Thomas Demand, Martin Parr, Mario Sorrenti, and Rankin to name a few. Then there is a section for the “Next Generation” of image makers such as Alec Soth and Naomi Harris. To finish, there are sections featuring a few Curators, Gallerists, Agency Directors, Editors, and Publishers.

For the interviews, Jaeger often asks various people the same question – “Do you think you need a philosophy to do great work?” for example. This allows you to see the many perspectives and approaches to a given topic. Then she delves into their personal practice to give a more detailed look of their work. This approach results in a series individual interviews that come together to form a larger narrative about contemporary photography as a whole.

Key Highlights

“The chances of making it as an artist are so small, I’d advise anyone to do something they are really passionate about, rather than speculating about what other people might be interested in. That way, if you don’t make it, which is quite likely, you at least know you were working on something that meant something to you.” – Thomas Demand (p22)

“Sometimes we look at work by young artists and they are all over the map so to speak. It’s a disparate body of work. What we’re interested in when looking at young work, is that a photographer has taken an idea and really explored it.” – Katherine Hinds (p215)

“Believe in your work. If someone turns you down, don’t let that discourage you, just keep on working. Also, ask people you trust for advice. And finally, look at as much art work as you possibly can. You have to be able to compare yourself to the best artists.” – Rudolf Kicken (p237)

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