Anyone who finds sterility and repetition lurking in the food-and-foodie assault on popular culture, or perhaps a fetid insouciance in photography book publishing--one pass by the bookshelves at the mega chain stores reveals that sellers have not lost their desire to peddle large-format photo spreads on Tuscan herb gardens or the Earth as seen from a rich man's helicopter--is likely to be refreshed by a new book, Markets of the World, by Toronto photographer Dean Bradley.
For an audience that doubtless craves an authentic, humble take on the photographic discovery of the simple pleasures in life, the book is an exhibition not just of talent and creativity but also of exploration and connection.
The market in Mr. Bradley's vision is a community crossroads, both a vibrant intersection of social threads and a common starting point for diverse moments of inspiration, from an evening meal to a flower arrangement to a special gift. The market is colour (p50), conviviality (p32), craftsmanship (p47), enthusiasm (p37), discovery (p71), simplicity (p39) and raw beauty (p27).
Part imaginative travel memoir, part photography exhibit of markets as far flung as Australia (the Sydney fish market), Spain (Valencia's mercado and Barcelona's boqueria), Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Istanbul, Amsterdam and a dozen more, Markets of the World is truly an exploration of quotidian adventure.
(Mr. Bradley's YouTube channel contains a short video of himself eagerly opening the initial shipment of first editions outside his Toronto home. No doubt we can all identify with and admire the child inside this moment of discovery.)
Last week the intrepid photographer launched the self-published book at the classy, clean-lined Miele Gallery in the upstairs Market Kitchen of St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (St. Lawrence Market is also featured in the book), where dozens of guests and photography enthusiasts mingled among the exhibit of Mr. Bradley's work and sampled fresh hors d'oeuvres made from produce from just downstairs.
It's a rare treat to find a photography book whose essence is no more or less than the artist's passion for his craft and the life in what surrounds him.
Markets of the World ($29.95; hardcover; 103 pages) is available at independent GTA bookstores such as Another Story, Nicholas Hoare, Type Books, Ben McNally, Book City and A Different Drummer Books, as well as at Ten Thousand Villages. It can also be purchased online from the photographer's website www.photosbydean.ca.