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BOOK REVIEW: The Bonds We Share by Dr. Glenn Losack

Veiled women walk in the 100-degree heat near Amar Sagar in the Thar Desert. They carry wood to use for fire. India / Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Glenn Losack most definitely has the good eye that makes a photographer a photographer. No idea, how many shots he needed to come up with these pics but the ones he selected for this book are truly outstanding. I for one was most intrigued by how many of the portrayed looked straight into the camera, the special chemistry between photographer and the ones photographed is apparent.

“The Bonds We Share” is divided into chapters entitled Devotion, Inheritance, Journey, Pasttime, Connection, Resilience, and Community. The 240 photographs were taken in “India, the Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Morocco, Peru, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Egypt, the United States, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.” Many of these shots I thought incredibly captivating – the smiling girl, for instance, on page 27, or the couple in front of their home on page 111, or the people resting on a bench on page 242 … I could go on and on and on …. This is most definitely the work of a master of the stunning snapshot.

In addition, I thought the captions most useful. One not only learns where the pictures were taken but, at times, is also given background information that makes one see with different eyes what one’s looking at. One of the images that had a lasting effect on me showed a closed coffin and a man lying next to it; the caption read: “A man with carpenter tools sleeps next to a coffin. The saying goes that if someone builds their own coffin, they have to lie in it: they’ve gotten themselves into a bad situation. This man was merely napping in the daytime heat oh Phnom Penh.”

A mother entertains her child. India / Pune, Maharashtra

In Manhattan’s East Village, a group of Orthodox Jews play leapfrog during the holiday of Simchat Torah. It is a day of celebration, and they have just left services at Sixth Community Synagogue.
United States / New York, New York

“The Bonds We Share” is also a document of the different ways people go about their lives. Men fish on stilts in Sri Lanka, young children tend goats in Egypt, a child is being washed by his mother in India, pilgrims visit Varanasi, a woman selling coconuts in Ho Chi Minh City, men sell garlands from marigolds outside of a temple in India. And and and …

I must admit I’m doubtful that this very well-done coffee-table book by “photography’s new conscience” (Really? Since when does photography have a conscience?) does what it claims to do: “reveal an essential truth: we may come from different cultures, far-ranging geographic corners, belief systems, and economic circumstances, but we all share the same desire to work hard, raise families, and lead fulfilling lives.” And while I do agree that to focus on our commonality is not only a good thing but essentially useful, I for one do have no desire to work hard and I’m not sure that many others have such desires. The problem however is that photographs, these two-dimensional reductions of a three-dimensional reality, that neither taste nor smell, cannot reveal truth.

What photographs however can do is to show the photographer’s preferences for he has chosen what he wanted to record. Looking with his in mind at “The Bonds We Share” reveals an impressive ability to detect humanness in pretty much everything. No preconceived ideas motivated the choice to frame such a variety of human expressions, it seems to me, but readiness for the moment.

The Bonds We Share: Images of Humanity, 40 Years Around the Globe
by Dr. Glenn Losack
Apollo Publishers 2021

About Hans Durrer

Hans Durrer is an author and addiction counsellor based in Switzerland. www.hansdurrer.com/, 12-step-addiction-treatment.blogspot.ch/. Two of his books are in English: Ways of Perception, Bangkok 2006; Framing the World, Houston 2011.

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