If you are a fan of Lisette Model, then you know how hard it has been to locate reproductions of her images. Worse still, the most complete, easily available reproduction I've seen (and own) has been the wonderful little Phaidon 55 series book. For those who don't know the Phaidon 55 series, it's great, with great printing, but the books are little. When I saw this book at the SFMOMA bookstore, I couldn't believe it. It's huge. I would have bought it right then, but...it's huge! I bought it the moment I got home from Amazon.
This book is really a treat. It's truly wonderful to see the grain, the rich blacks, the gutsy mid-tones, and the soft focus of Model's images. These are film images and the characteristics of the film, the equipment, and the technology of the times are in_your_face, and it's great. There is quite a bit of duplication of images between this book and the Phaidon book, but again, if you're a fan of Model, then you probably know that she doesn't have a huge body of work, and finally seeing these photos this big is the biggest treat of all.
If you are unfamiliar with Model's work, then these street photography images may seem tame to you, especially when compared to her most famous student, Diane Arbus. But, you can find the origins of the brutal honesty of Arbus' work in Model, and it's evident here, in this book. Model's images are honest, but respectful. There's a kindness, a sense of empathy, in Model's images that is refreshing, rare, and sadly missing from most of the street photography that followed her.
If you ARE a street photographer, then this book is pure inspiration, and spending time with Model can only do the soul good. If you are just a lover of photography, then this book must be in your collection. It's a classic by an important photographer. Get it and enjoy it for what it is, great photography.