Book Review

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•00

cover2000-12Visages by Francois d’Elbee

Visages, a book of photographs by Francois d’Elbee, was launched in Lusaka on 17 November. It comprises a collection of studio photographs of Zambian personalities, with short biographies on each, in both English and French.  The collection tells many stories, as each character exposes their outer self, but most importantly it shows how varied and vibrant the people of our country are.

Francois, born in Paris, came to Zambia in 1968.  After twenty years as a professional hunter, he took an interest in photography.  Visages is the result of more than six months of hard work both by Francois and his assistant, Wilson Mbewe.

Francois first told me about the book a few months ago, but I put it to the back of my mind, until the book arrived on my desk last week.  I took it home thinking that I would browse through it that evening to see if it was any good.  Well, I skimmed through it, then immediately had another look through it.  By the time I had gone through it a third time, I realised that this wasn’t just any book of photographs, so I sat down and had a very good look at it.  Since then, I have had a good look at it, at least once every day and each and every time, I feel I have learnt something new about the person in the photograph. Having known many of the personalities for a number of years, the photographs reflect their characters accurately.

The biographies give you further insight into what drives the person, but I have found one small incorrect fact in one of them, but this doesn’t detract from the photographs.

As a book devoted to photography as an art form, it makes a change that it is not devoted to wildlife.

Visages is available from Book Cellar, Manda Hill and will make excellent Christmas gift this year.

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