And then there was silence – first impression review

I recently got my hands on the photo book “And then there was silence” by renowned Danish photojournalist Jan Grarup. The book is an almost 500 page giant, weighing in at just under 5 kg.

My first impression is that it is an impressive piece of work. It must have taken a lot of coffee and perhaps some tears to get through selecting images for that many pages.

Let’s jump straight to the core of this. The photos. Jan Grarup travels the world’s war zones and disaster areas, documenting human tragedy at its worst. He has a special talent for capturing beauty even in the most grotesque scenes. Unlike the famous photojournalists of the last century, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Cappa, among others, he does not seem preoccupied with capturing the decisive moment. Jan Grarup captures feelings, atmosphere in astounding compositions. One has to wonder, how he manages to use angles, composition and depth of field, almost to perfection in many of the pictures in the book. Some pictures left me with an ambiguous feeling: How can one be totally breathtaken by beauty in images showing absolute horror?
Photographically, it is all that it is built up to be – and more. The title seems to fit perfectly. Flipping through the pages, you are rendered speechless by both the beauty and the horror of the images. An absolutely amazing feeling – even though you are supposed to feel bad after looking though the book.

The book’s psysical appearence seems quite nice from a distance. A large hardback bound in black cloth with white printing. However on closer look, it seems a bit cheap and a little fragile. The cardboard making up the inside of the cover seems a bit soft to me. Thick but soft. And the assembly and binding itself seems like it could have been done tighter.
The paper is a nice quality 150 g, semi glossy type which feels nice and durable to handle. For image printing it is quite okay. It doesn’t make the photos pop, but then again, many of the pictures are large and had to be viewed from a little distance to get the best impression of them. The paper seems perfectly fine for this. The smaller pictures, I feel lose a bit of detail though.

The price for all this is very reasonable. 349 DKK including shipping and a 10% donation to Unicef. That is a very nice price for a book of this size with that many extraordinary photos inside.

In conclution the book is of photographically very high quality but is lacking a bit in the physical department.