My second book review for 2015 is the new 2014 Canon APPA (Australian Professional Photography Awards) book. The 2014 Canon APPA book is different than many photography books in that it contains the combined works of many photographers from a photographic competition. Specifically, those photographers who scored a highly coveted Gold or Gold with Distinction award at the 2014 Australian Professional Photography Awards in Sydney. If you are unfamiliar with the APPA awards it is worth taking a moment and reading about them on the APPA website. In brief, these awards represent the very pinnacle of Australian photography. The competition is fierce and is regarded by many as one of the toughest in the world. The 2014 APPA Gold book represents those images that were professionally judged under controlled lighting conditions by AIPP Master and Grand Master Photographers to have reached the highest standards of excellence and creativity in their respective categories and genres.
2014 is the first year that APPA have produced a Gold Award book with previous years seeing the creation of much larger volumes that also contained all of the Silver and Silver with Distinction Awards. Personally, I am very pleased to see the segregation of the Gold awards spun off into a new book as the previous iterations had become extremely large and unwieldy. There are only so many images the eye and brain can absorb in one sitting before it tires of looking at photographs. My feeling is that the new Gold Awards book has the balance just about perfect in this regard.
The book is divided up into the separate APPA categories with the Gold and Gold with Distinction Award winners being featured for each category in alphabetical order. By way of full disclosure I should say at this point that I won the 2014 Science, Environment and Nature photographer of the Year award at the 2014 APPA’s. Two of my photographs received Gold awards and are featured in this book in the Science, Environment and Nature Category. My review of this book is not based on the inclusion of these two photographs and I would feel the same way about this book regardless of their inclusion or exclusion.
Presentation: The 2014 Canon APPA Gold Awards book is hardbound in black linen with a smart, clean dust jacket that is simple and elegant. The paper is a medium weight semi-gloss lustre that works well for the broad genre of images included in the book. Although I personally prefer art papers to lustre papers it was a wise decision to choose a paper that conformed to the broad range of genres in this book. All of the included photographs are printed with a white paper border to help frame and contain the image and keep the eye from running off the page. The photographers name is included beneath each image, along with the category entered and the award won (Gold or Gold with Distinction). There is a simplicity to the presentation of the images in this book that resonants with me and I very much enjoyed the clean no fuss layout that leaves the emphasis squarely on the photographs.
Print Quality: When it comes to print quality the 2014 Canon APPA Gold awards book is the gold standard in print quality surpassing anything I have yet seen from an offset printer. Printed on the Canon Dreamlabo 5000 printer this book is the closest you are likely to ever get to the original fine art inkjet prints that were entered into the APPA awards. Put simply, the quality of the printing is superb and I believe this book is worth owning simply as a reference for how good book printing can look when it is handled with care and attention to detail.
Conclusion: I considered giving this book five stars based on its print quality alone as a reference standard to other books, but in the end I felt somewhat conflicted giving a book five stars that includes two of my own photographs. I am therefore going to give it four stars and recommend that you strongly consider adding this book to your photographic library. I feel quite strongly that with the sheer breadth of subject that is presented in the book that there is quite literally something for just about every genre of photographer. Secondly, every one of the images in this book won a Gold or Gold with Distinction award at the 2014 APPA awards and represent the very pinnacle of Australian Professional Photography. Finally the print quality represents the current best it can be in book production. If you want to see where the standard lies and where the bar is set for professional photography in Australia then I recommend you purchase a copy of this book. Not only is it an excellent resource and reference to have on hand by which to evaluate your own work, but it is also contains a treasure trove of inspiration. The 2014 Canon APPA Gold Book is available for $75 AUD in strictly limited quantities from the AIPP. **** You should own this book and consider it an important part of your photography library.