Dear Streethunters.net Readers,
This is my first try to review a published photo book, and I must say it’s not just any photo book but a very wild and daring one. I am pretty excited about it although it seems to me like a serious and difficult task but also a fun and challenging one. In my opinion, a book reviewer should have an open mind, a good sense of observation, be detail-oriented plus to possess a dash of humour, and to think out of the box. I shall focus, obviously, on the book insight, determining the quality of the photos in here and its contents, but examining also things like the design and the quality of the print.
Review Of “Gratuity Included” by Chris Suspect
“Gratuity Included” is the first of four books to be published in 2020 by Chris Suspect and the second one called “Leather Boyz” was launched on the 18th of May. “Gratuity Included” has 41 black and white images that take the reader through a wild night bordering on a fever dream fueled by sex, alcohol, drugs, violence, and the surreal. The photographs featured in the volume were shot between 2012 and 2019 in locations all over the world, including Germany, Mexico, Columbia, Italy, and many more.
Chris Suspect was born in the Philippines in 1968 and he is a street and documentary photographer hailing from the Washington, DC area. Chris specializes in capturing absurd and profound moments in the quotidian. His street photography work has been recognized internationally and has been exhibited in Miami, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Romania, Georgia, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. His documentary work on the underground music scene in Washington, D.C., was published as a book, Suspect Device, by Empty Stretch in 2014 and was featured at an exhibit at the Kolga Tbilisi Photo Festival 2015 in Tbilisi, Georgia.
You can find more about Chris Suspect and his photography on his official website https://www.chrissuspect.com/
I love the soft book cover, in thick and mate paper, nice choice, and it matches perfectly the black and white design and layout. The paper quality is good without being too pretentious making it more friendly to the touch.
The photo choice is not too flashy and not too generic but hypnotic as are the child’s glasses from the shot and it goes well with the unconformist writing style, makes it look raw and daring, similar to the cover of a rock band album I would say.
I think the cover gives you a good sense of the book’s style and content, and this, in my opinion, is important to have. From the moment you pick it up from the shelf, you can sense what this book is about. It also fits with the photographer’s personality, so it is a combination of the book content and his personality.
The “Shelf life” is already a consecrated term for the street hunters book reviews and it refers to how long will a book stay on one’s shelf before it will be picked up again. The longer a book stays on the shelf without being picked up, the lower the “Shelf life” value. I have “Gratuity Included” for only two weeks so it is a little bit hard to estimate the shelf life at this point, all I know for now is that I enjoyed the book. During the first week, I went through it a couple of times to get a better feel of it, I like to do this when I have a new photo book. The photos are catchy and the way they are mixed and matched makes you want to revisit the book. I also liked the fact that the shots here are very different from my style of shooting and it kind of gets me intrigued. I like that feeling because I usually buy photo books that match my photo style perfectly, so the different perspective on photography that Chris offers through his book, makes me question my style and challenge myself to do new things.
Easy to read
The book format is very friendly in my opinion so you can easily carry it with you wherever you wish because it fits easily in all kinds of bags. The book size is 5.5” x 8.5”. Although the format is friendly you might experience a little difficulty in handling it because the pages tend to close shut a little so you might need to be a bit persistent about wanting to stay on a certain page more, and also you might need two hands to handle it.
Organization and content
The organization of photos is carefully thought out, as they are not just randomly put there but create a somewhat chronological path and also bring rhythm to the book. From the first photo that invites us to step into the party till the last one that is anything but a smooth end. This book breathes life, tumultuous nightlife full of mystery and desires, of forbidden pleasures, uncanny encounters, passion, and some drama too. It takes you to the darkest corners of your mind and lets the imagination flow revealing itself page by page.
The flow is good and the layout fits the concept to this rhythm nicely. It keeps us alert and wanting to go through this tremendous show.
I liked the quality of print and paper. The book size is as I stated before, 5.5” x 8.5” it has 64 pages, including the cover from 130lb Finch Fine iD Bright White Smooth paper and the inside pages from 100lb Finch Fine iD Bright White Smooth paper. I also was pleased by the quality of the printed images, the blacks are very rich and the details of the photos didn’t get lost in the printing process.
This book is raw, playful, dark, and crazy, not for the weak-hearted and moralists that’s for sure. It is like a dark version of “Alice in Wonderland” story. Once you get pushed down the tunnel there is no way of coming back. We have the party, the surreal and magic, and on top of this the sex, drugs, and alcohol that brings the viewer to the edges. You can hear this book pulsing before opening it. I enjoyed the journey and exploration of the photos from the first one that introduces us to this crazy world until the last “goodbye” photo.
If you are interested in purchasing a print, you can visit Chirs Suspect website https://www.chrissuspect.com/shop and make your purchase from there.
I hope you guys enjoyed this review and I made you curious about seeing this book.
Stay sharp and keep shooting!