4 out of 4 stars
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Le Flâneur by Alex Labry is an eclectic assortment of photographs from the present all the way back to the 80s. His passion for photography is evident in this gallery, as is his reverence for people. Labry features photos from New Orleans, Louisiana and Paris, France mainly, but features photos from other places in the Americas and Europe as well.
In his Artist Statement, Labry talks about the concept of Le Flâneur. It was coined by Charles Baudelaire, a French writer, who described it as someone who wanders through the crowds, blending in with all of the people. Labry takes on the role of Le Flâneur, photographing all the things he sees, mundane or otherwise. He acts as the unseen observer, taking candid photos of the people and places he visits.
Some highlights for me include The Ninth Ward – New Orleans, LA 2007, which shows a demolished house with what I believe is a wedding photo at the bottom-center. At first, I thought it must have been wreckage from Hurricane Katrina, but it looks too clean, so maybe it was a demolition. Another favorite is the Catholic Priest in Confessional Booth, taken in Montevideo, Uruguay in 2019. The photo features a catholic priest in the booth holding what appears to be an iPhone. The juxtaposition of the priest and the iPhone is interesting and immediately drew me to the photograph. Jackson Square – New Orleans, LA 2015 is also an outstanding photo. It features a man on a bench with a sleeping dog on his lap.
The only aspect of the book that I would change is not a shortcoming of the author, but rather my own curiosity. There is little information concerning the backstories of the pictures, but maybe that is the point. I found myself wanting to learn more about the pictures that he had taken. If I were discussing this collection with Labry in person, I would undoubtedly have hundreds of questions for him about his photographs. But perhaps the mystery is part of the journey, to encourage the reader to take their own journey and create their own stories from his photographs. I certainly had different possibilities for backstories of some of the people and places he included in this collection.
Overall, I would give Le Flâneur a 4 out of 4. I found very few errors within this book, and none were particularly egregious. This is clearly a labor of love. The dedication taken to create this collection is obvious. There are very few instances of profanity and sexual content. Some of the photographs contain mild profanity and nude sculptures. Le Flâneur will appeal to all types of people, especially those with a love for photography.
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