- Hardcover: 239 pages
- Publisher: Historic Houses Trust Of New South Wales (February 5, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1876991208
- ISBN-13: 978-1876991203
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1 x 12.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912-1948 Hardcover – February 5, 2007
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I thought the book could do with a little less death crime scene photos, which is an interest of mine but in this case I didn't think so many were necessary. The more miscellaneous photos such as missing persons and unknown origin photos (like the comedic fighting trio one) were few but were more of interest to me which I didn't expect. I would've liked to see more photos of immigrants but that's more of a personal interest. And the photos of crime scenes that occurred inside homes were quite emotional.
The layout and spread of the pictures are greatly executed with a loose theme order (car crashes, crime scenes then mugshots) using as much space in the pages as possible. Many photography books leave too much white space, not this one. For me it wasn't boring in any one section. It draws you into the world that it creates. The photos are incredibly large and crisp. With a book like this, it seems like you never get enough content because you just hunger for more photos, more details of peoples' lives. I curiously fancied quite a few of the people :) It's a definite keeper, I won't let it go.
The text is more than a regional history though. The photos included in SoS illustrate what the 20th century cultural critic Walter Benjamin theorised about in terms of a photograph's potential "aura" - a strange weave of time and space that takes it beyond being just a reproduced image; Not art as such, but something with historical, social function and maybe even asthetic qualities; The photos' posers here in SoS seem themselves, separate from the containment of the frame. Put another way the subject, not the photographer, is seemingly controlling what the image does to the viewer.
In this sense the photos do have an amazing beauty and universality. They are funny, sad, disturbing, addictive while, dare I say it, creating their own "historical reality". This book is so much more than morbid voyuerism.