Review: Yard Sale Photographs by Adam Bartos


Book Reviews, Photobooks

The difference between a good photo book and a great one is often that in the latter case, somebody paid attention to detail. Sometimes, the smallest things can make a huge difference. Adam BartosYard Sale Photographs provides an excellent example. The book cover looks just like what you would find at an actual yard sale, including, and this is the detail, the round blue sticker with the price (“$1-“). The cover, of course, doesn’t make a book, but it usually dots the i.

Yard Sale Photographs contains just that: Photographs of settings found at yard sales (see some samples here), mostly details. An open suitcase, in whose vintage red interior a couple of pennies are lodged. A bunch of partly rusty clamps on a wooden table. A single cassette tape, with no case, on top of a video cassette. A rather beat up, grumpy looking teddy bear on an old couch. Of course, that’s why one would go to a yard sale (I don’t think the expression “to yard sale” has made it into the dictionaries, yet - I could be wrong, of course - but I’ve heard it many times). You don’t necessarily go to find vintage Steiff animals, because you will probably disappointed. You go to see what’s out there, what people are selling, of course to infer something about them from what they’re selling… And the vintage Steiff animals that you then might find are the added bonus. As is the re-bound 1902 edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories, which you could use for your book on photographs of yard sales.

In a day and age where fine-art photography has to involve clunky 4x5 cameras (at least - of course, 8x10 is even better) or fancy digital cameras with gazillions of “Megapixels”, it seems that nobody uses a 35mm camera any longer. It’s not all that clear to me why that is the case, especially since you can produce absolutely wonderful photography with such cameras. Case in point: Yard Sale Photographs The quality of its photos is outstanding, with a very unassuming and extremely wonderful colour palette. There complete lack of superficial splashiness wonderfully compliments the subject matter of the photographs. It just all fits together in a perfect way.

I can’t wait for it to get warmer again so I can go yard saleing again - in the meantime, Yard Sale Photographs will do.