Book Review : Earth From The Air
The result of a five-year airborne odyssey across five continents and sixty countries, The Earth From the Air is the bestselling book of aerial photography ever published. This vibrant new edition of the internationally acclaimed original features an updated design and nearly sixty stunning new photographs. All-new captions and the addition of authoritative new texts by experts in various environmental fields illuminate Arthus-Bertrand’s monumental achievement.
“We’re gonna need a bigger coffee table.”
Beware. I really like this book. I may gush a bit.
In 2004, I was lucky enough to stumble into an outdoor exhibition of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work in a square in Lisbon. I know. I’m just so urbane. The fact that I was there for a game of football should be glossed over in relation to the general artiness herein.
In many ways it seems wrong to refer to this as a photography book. The camera and the photographer are just there to showcase the wonders of the world. That’s not to take anything away from the skills involved here, but you do need to be someone who appreciates photography to appreciate what is on show here. Also, the book isn’t just photographs, there is some excellent text which accompanies the images that provide excellent insight and background to what is on display.
There are also two kinds of beauty here. The earth at its most natural and splendid and things that we have put there. I can’t imagine a book that has the same visual impact as this. It’s the photo book equivalent of shock and awe. At the same time making you feel lost in a wide open expanse of a desert and then crushed in the tight spaces of a favela.
I have the first edition of this book so I can only imagine that the new edition, with its extra images, is even more stunning.
You could argue that if you find the great locations and go up in a helicopter (not that that in itself is any small undertaking) with a decent camera you could get close to these images. But that would be ignoring the excellent composition at work here. Given the difficulty of being high up, on the move, acheiving such stunning composition and abstract compression is all the more impressive.
My only complaint is that, with such a big book, its not the easiest thing to read (and the spine really gets in the way, especially with the otherwise fantastic picture of the Taj Mahal). Viewing the images in super-large scale in public is much better (so keep an eye out for an exhibition). But all that will do is compel you to buy the book anyway, which I can’t recommend you to do enough.
As we approach Xmas, has to be an ideal present for anyone who loves travel, nature, photography or building their biceps.