Most ‘Master’ photographer doesn’t always share their contact sheet to public, let alone making a magazine out of it.

Contact sheet is a private stuff, and it usually shows how bad a photographer is before they manage to capture a certain picture. Even the legendary Henri Cartier Bresson have a  love-hate relationship with it along with some other famous photographer.

“A contact sheet is full of erasures, full of detritus. A photo exhibition or a book is an invitation to a meal, and it is not customary to make guests poke their noses into the pots and pans, and even less into the buckets of peelings . . . Pulling a good picture out of a contact sheet is like going down to the cellar and bringing back a good bottle to share.” ~Henri Cartier-Bresson

That is how a photographer feels when they are working on a contact sheet and although I was born during the rise of digital media, I still have some appreciation to the process and it is one of the reason why shooting with film camera seems more tempting to me. Contact sheet is used as a way to judge and select a good picture from the entire roll of negative but I never thought of the idea in compiling it in a form of magazine just for story telling.

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I stumble upon the work of Kosuke Okahara when his CONTACT #1 got featured on Invisible Photographer Asia facebook page and it spark my curiosity when I saw that the cover is made out of contact sheet, which I presume at that time as something that the photographer use to select one of his picture. So, I google his work and I instantly bookmarked his website and blog once I saw a couple of his work.

James Natchwey is a famous war photographer whose work that I am familiar with but Kosuke Okahara approach on the brutality of his subject is much more subtle and far more human in nature. He didn’t try to show the gruesome nature of the stuff that he encounter but instead he focus more on the daily life of his subject and the consequences of a certain issue towards the subject.

The magazine consist a series of contact sheet from one of Kosuke project, “Any Given Day”, plus some huge print on certain pages. – http://kosukeokahara.com/stories/anygivenday-e/index.html

WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING?

Seriously?, a large size magazine that consist a contact sheet of the photographer at a cheap price? What not to shout about?, plus its the same contact sheet that he use while editing for one of his project, which gives me more reason to get a copy of it.

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Usually, photographer always tell a story in a series of picture but this magazine tell us more about the photographer own journey. The fact that he include his contact sheet along with a full page print on the next page allow us to get a sense on his photographic vision and journey as it allow us to participate along with the storyline.

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“Any Given Day” was a recent project by Kosuke Okahara on the Gangster and Slum community of Medellin, Colombia. Its an interesting subject and you can find more of it at http://www.kosukeokahara.com/stories/anygivenday-e/index.html

INITIAL IMPRESSION.

Contact sheet being printed on large paper. Stapled and folded. A very simple design.

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One thing that I notice from the magazine is the fact that the prints have a rather blue colored cast on most of it, which I don’t really like as it ruins the picture in a sense. The prints sharpness is ‘Okay’ by standard but at such price, you really wonder whether this magazine was printed by a inkjet printed or using a Xerox machine. Its a bargain nevertheless and soon I realize that the way the magazine tells its story is much more fascinating than the usual photobook. Unique is a much more accurate terms on this magazine.

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GOING THROUGH THE BOOK.

The whole book have this classic 60’s design where the font for the essay were written in a classic typewriter font instead of the usual helvetica while the entire layout look similar to the usual document form that you see in the old James Bond Movie. There is a sort of retro feeling while going through the entire series which makes you forget that the entire series was taken recently in 2010.

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Even though I complain a bit on the printing part, it was actually quite ‘okay’ and apart from the color tint, there is nothing to be fault on. It was big enough to compensate for the silly tint and I ignore that minor part a few minute later as I spent more time with a magnifying glass on the entire contact sheet.

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Somehow, after inspecting every frame on the contact sheet, I realize that there is some other interesting frame from the entire contact sheet but  it didn’t make the final cut. I wonder why because it might look great with the other series but here’s the thing, we are not the photographer and the photographer himself have different objective than us!!!.

It reminds me on one of John Sypal quote from his blog;

“The thing I like most about editing contact sheets is how similar it is to the act of photography itself. Re-selection, a chance to catch it again, it’s part of how it all becomes an “adventure in seeing“, indeed.” – John Sypal

We need to be reminded with the fact that every photographer have a different purpose and perspective on how Photography should conduct and this is the exact thing during a photographer selection from their contact sheet.

CONCLUSION

Looking at someone else contact sheet is always a good experience and it is even more intriguing when the photographer is one of your favourite (I became a fan of Kosuke work ever since I gone through his entire photo essay). I learn a lot on Kosuke approach on his subject and if you have seen his other work, you can sense the intimacy between him and the subject.

If you are wondering how a good photographer working on their subject, the best way is to have a look at their contact sheet but in todays world where digital is imminent and analog working process seems obsolete, your best bet is to ask them for directly if they still have the file.

Somehow I am impress with Kosuke Contact #1. There is a sense of awe after I finished reading it and I believe this kind of magazine would not make any sense if it was taken with digital. I really admire the fact that he, somehow, willing to print his contact sheet in exact size but I think that is what he intend to do so from the beginning.

And if anyone want to learn  more on how a ‘Master’ approach their project but don’t have the spare cash to buy Magnum Contact Sheet. Kosuke latest publication might just be worth it.

If anyone wanted to get their copy of this, you can do so from here – http://www.kosukeokahara.com/blog/books/481.html

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