I get some of the craziest things in the mail and when I say “crazy,” I mean “crazy good.” You can add “The Nature of Water,” to that list. This is a beast of a book and I can’t even imagine the time and team required to pull this off but thankfully fifty-one photojournalists and Aaron Guy Leroux and Adam Malamis did just that.
This is a stunning book covering Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition protests. They don’t mess around with their protests in that part of the world and you know if you are covering these babies there is a good chance you might get your ass handed to you. It happens, so hats off to those choosing to record what some don’t want recorded. (It’s been years since I got hammered at a protest but I don’t miss it.)
This book has over three hundred images and some are of the rough cut. Pain, violence and the like. The layout is intriguing, feeling fractured in some places and calm in others. This is what design is about. Evoking something from the reader to maintain attention.
Printed inside cover, linen, foil, deboss and a paper that feels mostly uncoated. (Reminds of Mohawk Uncoated, one of my favs.) Textured but not toothy and holds color and blacks well. Just curating a book like this is like climbing a visual Everest. Add the sequence, the design, the copy edit, the persmissions, etc. and you are talking monumental project.
This book in itself is testimony. This book is a witness. When the team is long gone, moved on or aged out the book remains. I tell photographers all the time “think long-play,” because these projects often get better with time. When the powers want to retell or rewrite you can casually raise your hand and say “not so fast.”
The last thing I’ll say about this is it lives as yet another example of what collaboration can do. It took me far too long to realize my work and my career were far more interesting when others were involved. All of the best projects of the last five years have been collaborations and nearly everything I’m involved in now is collaborative. (I just participated in two art projects by other creatives and both have already led to additional successes I never saw coming.) The age of the picture agency is over but creatives can do this on their own now and are often better for it.
You can open this book at any point and jump right in. In fact, I would advise you to do so before returning to the front matter and progressing like a normal human being. Warm yourself up for what’s coming. Kudos to the team behind this. A remarkable testament. And to those in Hong Kong. Keep fighting the good fight.