There are times when I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
One of those moments happened earlier this year. On a trip to Southern California my wife and I made this past spring, we spent a handful of nights in Santa Monica. Having decided to capture the whole trip entirely on film, I had my Nikon F with me as we strolled down the Third Street Prominade in downtown Santa Monica one afternoon. Suddenly a gentleman who was sitting on the prominade asked about my camera, and we struck up a conversation. After trading contact information, we parted ways.
That gentleman’s name was John Humble. I didn’t know it upon first meeting him, but after spending some time looking at his work through his website at johnhumble.com and his Getty Museum profile, I began to realize that I had just met someone who would become one of my most admired photographers.
Even though I haven’t totally detached myself from rendering my images in electronic form on a device screen, I’ve been warming to the value of having and looking at physically printed images. And perhaps the best way to appreciate those images is in a thoughtfully assembled and high-quality book. In many respects, as the truly good photographers will tell you, books are better investments than camera gear.
Having become familiar with his work, it became clear to me that a sampling of John Humble’s work deserved a place on my bookshelf.
A Place in the Sun (2007), the companion book to the Getty Museum exhibit of the same name, shows John Humble’s masterful ability to find beauty in settings that one might believe is completely devoid of it. He especially succeeds with locating people in the context of their surroundings. I also love his ability to draw out the simple yet striking beauty of the sweeping lines of freeway overpasses from the more human perspective of someone on the ground.
John Humble’s book became not only a valued part of my photography book collection but also a little reminder of the importance of good luck that sometimes happens when I’m out and about.