Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms



Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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6 Jan 2021 6:37AM   Views : 7968 Unique : 7239


Once upon a time, there was a sort of thing about ‘French postcards’ – disreputable, slightly worn and grubby perhaps – and also with the allure of forbidden fruit.

Some time in the late Seventies, around the time that I bought my freshly-printed copy of John Hedgecoe’s Book of Photography, I found Erotoscope in a remaindered bookshop: it may have been the rather wonderful one that used to be right at the bottom of Exhibition Road near South Kensington Underground station. I think it’s now a tapas bar.

I have a very vague memory that my sister knew the owner because he sold such a variety of books, and at the time she collected Arthur Rackham books – all Victorian fairies and magic. He spent much of his time abroad, but because of the location, I think he bought a lot of review copies of books from journalists. Anyway, I found a copy of a rather unusual book in there…

Published in 1970, and it’s one of those ideas that work once, for someone, and then everyone asks why on earth nobody had tried it before. It’s a live-view version of that Christmas game where one person draws a head and folds the paper over, and another person draws a torso… In this case, though, the 4-section pages show girls in varying costumes, from full-on fashion to coyly nude.


Three girls in a succession of outfits, and wigs, but posed so that any one of the four elements fits against all of the others. 12 different images of the first girl, 9 of the second, 11 of the third. The pages and segments of pages are mounted on a wire spiral like a calendar or notebook: obviously the feet have to be in the same position in every image of each girl, and I imagine there was a lot of hard work done to get the perfect white background in every image.

It sounds moderate fun, but it’s always felt fragile, and the cover was always rather ‘foxed’ – 45 years on, I’ve not had it off the shelf too often. It wasn’t expensive, and it’s a fun idea... Two copies on eBay this morning are selling for £180 and nearly £500, though the latter is presumably in better condition than my copy!

It’s an entirely Silly Sunday idea, but one that must have taken some hard work to produce. There are three credits on the cover (I wonder if Marie Concorde: Editeur is real?) but the three models, the French equivalents of the London Dolly Bird, are anonymous. Nowadays, Photoshop would do the heavy lifting: back then, painstaking work and marks on the floor for the feet, plus a lot of retouching to remove what? Posing braces? A couple of chairs with bits of tape to show where the left hip goes?


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
6 Jan 2021 6:39AM
At some point in the Twentieth Century, someone had to do it... And now, nobody, ever needs to do it again. Though I can imagine it as a project that will appeal to someone...

I apologise for the scrappy snapshots - though badly taken, heavily-corrected images seem somehow appropriate.
kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 28 Scotland
6 Jan 2021 8:08AM
It must have been a nightmare to do - a real labour of love.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
6 Jan 2021 10:59AM
Regarding the value of your book John, I realised the same thing a few years ago. I went through a a stage 10-15 years ago where I bought photo books (rather than how to do it books). It was only when I saw their current high asking prices that it occurred to me that most such books were never reprinted and so were all 'first editions'.
Owdman Avatar
Owdman Plus
7 19 34 United Kingdom
6 Jan 2021 8:07PM

Hi John,
There's a youtube video of the book! I've bought a few photobooks over the years and they really have gone up in value. Most of Bob Carlos Clarkes with a few odd items he did like a Janet Reger catalogue. I also have a lot of Jean Girraud (Moebius) graphic works and they've shot up in value too. Smile

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