John Curno

Fotonow, 2012

ISBN 978-1-908678-03-4 Hb


John Curno has made black-and-white photographs of the British landscape since the late 1970s, inspired by opposing American traditions of landscape mysticism and realism and by European romantic ideas around decay. If there is no especially distinctive voice here and minimal conceptualisation, his best work is nonetheless very well seen and realised, and stands honourably alongside that of slighty older contemporaries such as Cooper, Blakemore and Godwin.

            This monograph of Curno’s life’s work is the first book published by Fotonow, a community photography organisation based in Plymouth. We live in a new world of democratic publishing and this book reminds us what a mixed blessing that can be. Able photographers are often brought to light through distressingly amateurish book-making. The images here needed a tighter edit and are crudely printed, many with speckling and blown highlights. Texts are peppered with grammatical and punctuation errors. Curno’s goofy section introductions – ‘Bideford … has a lot of character with some lovely buildings and good shops plus a lot of history … So please everyone should go and visit Bideford’ – should all have been deleted. The double entendre of the title is painfully inept. In our rush to publish we seem to be forgetting that good photographs are not enough: it takes a refined set of publishing skills to make a good book.