I bought this book after interviewing Hellen Van Meene. I'll sum it up with some detail from that interview and some other thoughts.
I found myself very interested in the subject matter and by Hellen's approach to her work. Her work struck me as an excellent counter balance to the dry, objectifying commercial portraiture. The really poor shallow stuff we are exposed on a daily basis. In fact her images seemed the antithesis to this. Her prints often featured young girls dwelling in that transient moment in childhood adolescence. On the cusp adulthood. Her subjects often appeared awkward or vulnerable sometimes seeming a little uncomfortable in their own skin. Yet despite this there is an understated beauty to each image.
In Hellen's photographs there is a strong sense of realism. All of the models minor imperfections are on show. There are sometimes bruises, Goose bumps or blemishes all proudly on display. All of the photographs are taken in unmodified natural light, with models Hellen carefully chooses to avoid the hum drum classically beautiful look. The result of this hard-line realist approach occurs on two fronts. There is an unusual sense of honesty and feeling in the photographs but there is also an ethereal quality that is hard to quantify.
This book (Formerly called 'New Work') containins a selection of her work with London teenagers, Japanese children and work from Riga, Russia. The print quality is excellent. As on object of beauty or as a master class in a unique brand of natural light portraiture you would struggle to find a better book. Beyond that I need say no more, the book speaks for itself.