book review

Noel Burns: Night Watch

Review by Richard Storm

When this book popped up on my radar I knew I had to get my hands on it for review. After seeing one or two pictures beforehand I immediately felt the pull of something special through those images. Once the book came in, I gleefully opened the package from the post man and tore through the book with the reckless abandon of a kid at Christmas. I really shouldn’t be opening packages like that. What was it about this book that drew me in? What was it about this book that made me excited even though I walked in knowing next to nothing? It was simplicity. After flipping through the book a number of times and then studying the book in depth it was clear that within the initial pangs of simplicity that there was a gorgeous complexity of not only the imagery but of the history that was interwoven within them.


Noel Kerns tells his photographic origins within the book’s pages and sprinkles the history of the locations that he has shot, giving the reader a broader sense of what these photographs accomplish. The beauty of this book is that it captures the ebb and flow of time within this specific style of landscape photography that is eye grabbing in the sense of a time-lapse video of a decaying object that happens to be part of a once thriving area. It’s almost as if Noel traveled to a dystopian future to capture these images, hopped in a time machine, and came back to present day only to tell us that this is what the future holds. Obviously, one of the most fascinating things about photography is the fact that you can trick the audience into thinking something isn’t what it seems. I use the word “trick” because in many ways photographers are magicians.  Noel Kerns is a magician.


Stacy Kranitz

Night Watch is filled with rich photographs of derelict buildings, broke down road signs, forgotten highways, abandoned gas stations, left to rot missile stations, government sites that haven’t been used since the McCarthy era, ghost towns, relics of a world long gone with the smoke trail of a fired six shooter that through a photo you could possibly still smell in the air. I friggin’ love this book. 

This book blooms in front of you and as the flower of these forgotten landscapes open up to the reader you get a full sense of the work that went into the photographs and the historical content behind them. This books is not only a clinic on landscape photography but it’s also an in depth history lesson and personal tell all from the author. I’ll say it again: I friggin love this book. Find out for yourself how this book will affect your senses because that is what it does. I have been affected.

To purchase the book or see more of Noel Burns' work: