Pick of the Week: Haunted Air

haunter airHaunted Air

Haunted Air by Ossian Brown is a 216 paged book that shows off one man’s collection of vintage Halloween photography, from ghosts to ghouls. It includes a foreword by David Lynch and a prologue by Geoff Cox and a brief historical note. It contains hundreds of devilish photographs taken on Halloween from the turn of the last century, and even includes one tintype that is likely dated back before 1900s.  The photographs themselves are haunting and encapsulate the spirit of the holiday and incredible for one man’s personal collection. I enjoyed the way the photographs are presented as is, which I feel is important when showing vintage photography. However and this something I normally don’t talk about in my reviews as monetary value is very subjective to the person, I felt Haunted Air was lacking in the quality and quantity for the price I paid. The book is about two times too big for even the largest of photographs shown inside of it, the photographs are just swimming in white background and I think that greatly detracts from them. Not to mention about 50% of the pages don’t even feature any photography on them at all, leaving so much wasted space and adding to the book feeling lacking; the 216 pages probably yields less than 100 photographs which is kind of absurd to me. As well none of the photographs have any information on them, no dates, no locations, nothing about their historical context except and inferred interpretation that they are taken around Halloween. Not to mention with a quick Google search you can find the finest and creepiest of all vintage Halloween photography that exists that is vastly and far superior to any photograph you will find in this book. I understand one man is not going to have all the greatest Halloween photographs from a certain period of time at his grasp but why create a book of your collection if it isn’t worth being seen in its entirety? As well the foreword by David Lynch is most likely included at the beginning or at all mostly because of whom he is (and I love his movies). It’s not even close to a decent foreword as it basically can be summed up as “I had a friend who showed me these photographs and I like them”, it doesn’t even mention the core of the collection is based around the holiday so if you picked up this book and read the forward and wanted to gleam what the concept was, you couldn’t. And on the other hand the prologue is basically paragraphs and paragraphs about what can be described as poetry about Halloween using even word in the dictionary that is even remotely connected to the holiday. At times I didn’t even know what Geoff Cox was on about, it sounded like he was describing murder half the time. I also have a bone to pick when he says “These are pictures of the dead” – no they are not, they are photos of people who have most likely died but they were very much alive in the photo. It’s a rubbish thing to say when there are many examples of photography of actual dead people, a morbid and fascinating practice of the last 1800s that on its own is far more hauntings and fascinating than this entire collection. The historical note is the only thing I enjoyed reading and should have been at the forward as the photos are nothing without their historical context to begin with. I adore vintage photography, and if this book was half the number of pages and half the price I would be raving about it right now despite not being the greatest example of vintage Halloween photography. I’d love it just because it was one man’s collection and I respect the work he must have done to collect it. However it’s not, it’s a grossly overpriced and completely lacking in almost every way. If you are dying to see more vintage Halloween photography than what you can see for free online, it’s the only book like it so like me you may want to have it anyways despite of what I’ve said but if you don’t fall into the extremely niche subsection – I wouldn’t bother.

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