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on 22 January 2014
Here far away is the first major retrospective book of the leading international photographer Pentti Sammallahti. It covers more than forty years of work and unfolds in almost as many countries. The book was released in 2013 simultaneously by a group of European photography publishers in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Sammallahti's native language, Finnish. It deserves even wider global attention.

His exquisite black-and-white photographs are quiet, but overflowing with affection, humor, joy and delight at what he discovers in nature -- ranging from vast landscapes and urban settings populated by animals, to people out in nature, part of it, engulfed by it. There are interludes that seem like scenes from a movie or an opera, and still life studies that are just perfect.

The "characters" in his images often appear like whimsical cosmic winks -- magical unlikely juxtapositions and interactions, such as two pigeons who seem to mimic in unison the exact stride of a statue of Charles de Gaulle that towers above them, or hundreds of white swans surrounded by even more dark-feathered ducks at a crowded pond in the middle of a field. His sense of photographic composition is poetic and musical, and the images he makes require foresight, planning, a bit of luck, and a lot of patience.

Sammallahti is recognized as a master craftsman both in terms of his photographic eye and his expertise in photographic and mechanical printing methods. He has designed and printed many small photobooks throughout his career, each a work of art in itself. His innovative printing techniques and his reintroduction of the portfolio form have been a major influence on published photographic art. And as far as we know, he does not subscribe to the art-world concept of limited edition prints that increase in price as the remaining prints get scarce -- he wants to share his joy and his work with as many people as possible, so he keeps his prices amazingly low for an artist of his stature.

Sammallahti is a master and this retrospective book is a masterpiece. But despite its superb quality and artistry, the book, like the artist, is exceedingly unassuming. The title, Here far away, represents this duality. Many of the pictures appear simple enough: a man walking down a path, a flock of birds in flight, a loyal dog in pursuit of its master. These all appear in the "here", the now, the concrete present.

The book doesn't rely on captions or titles (although the locations and dates are shown in the back pages). It's not important where, when, or what exactly is being depicted. The longer we spend with these photographs, the more they subtly, wordlessly, begin to point to something larger, something "far away". The "far away" can't be definitely determined and it's likely that each viewer's "far away" will take its own form and personal association. But that is the power of Sammallahti's work, starting with something simple and immediate and bringing the viewer to a wholly unforeseeable place.

As Finn Thrane writes in the introduction:

"Sammallahti's work is ensured a long life, because with his photographic images he steps outside time and instead grapples with the great mysteries that existence offers the curious: love, death, spirituality, nature -- key existential concepts that he would hardly allow to pass his own lips, but would instead be all the more willing to show."

This work enriches its viewer each time and is worth returning to over and over again. Highly recommended.

-- Alexander Strecker, assistant editor at LensCulture
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on 4 October 2013
I bought this soley on recommendation from The Online Photographer. The photos are amazing - serene, thought provoking, and most importantly expertly reproduced. There is plenty of space around images, and no unecessary 2-page splits. Lovely thick paper, sturdy cover/spine. One of the best photo books I own.
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on 8 October 2013
Where has this guy been...or more to the point why have I had my head in the sand and never heard of this photographer before now!

This monograph/compilation shows a photographer at the top of his game, with a selection of quiet, thoughtful, and often wry pictures that document Pentti's life by means of subtext as much as the subjects actually shown.

The book is well printed, the pictures well presented and the book, as a beautiful object, deserves a place on everyone's coffee table.

A must for all photographers and other discerning folk.
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on 19 January 2013
For me, the best book in 2012. Brilliant printing, nice lay-out, beautiful photography. It is a lifetime's work, from the beginning to 2012. It is also the most complete book about Sammallahti's work. It is out of print in english, but you can still have it in german, italian or spanish for a decent price (try it on amazon.it). So if you like his work, you have to buy this book. If you don't know his work yet, buy it also, you will not de disappointed.
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on 8 October 2013
The Online Photographer recommends this book, and I'm not disappointed when it arrived. Lots of moving BW images, in fact this is one of the best book in my collection. Thanks for Dewi Lewis for publishing this book!
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on 3 January 2013
Beautifully presented and amazing selection of B/W pictures.If you like B/W photographs it's a must have book.It's ,by far, the best photographic book I bought in a very long time...!!!!
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on 21 July 2013
Samallahati is an extremely talented photographer and this is an excellent and beautifully produced collection of his photographs from around the world.
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on 19 December 2013
Beautiful book printed on high quality paper. Classic world class photography. Highly recommended for anybody interrested in works of Sammallahti.
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on 6 September 2014
No doubting the quality of the photographs but just didn't grab my attention like I thought it would. Sold it on ebay soon after buying it.
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on 14 December 2012
If you ever going to buy a book with a contemporary photographer you have to buy this. It is truly the best buy ever in my collection.
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