I’m reviewing picture books today but picture books with a difference! About this time last year, I ordered Fiona Lake’s photographic masterpieces. My ‘coffee table’ books of Cath Kidston and various interiors books have long been withdrawn to the bottom bookshelf and the coffee tables are used for lego and homework but these are the perfect coffee table books for all those interested in the beauty of farming.
Fiona hails from Australia and has hundreds of photos of various cattle stations – of mustering, of broncoing, of rodeos, of crossing rivers, of houses, of camping. It’s not just the photos though, the captions reveal much about the Australian farming way of life. Yes, it looks magnificient and even romantic but the captions, while still reflecting on the magnificence, explain the long hours and the hard toil. There’s a handy glossary at the back of Million Acre Masterpiece too and I was surprised by the number of times I had to refer to it.
Million Acre Masterpiece and Life as an Australian Horseman are beautiful books. What is easy to forget is that Fiona was also riding horseback with those rounding up the cattle, she was also camping and flying and often waiting a long time to get the perfect photo. The scale of the country is incredible – it really makes you realize how tiny Ireland is.
I met Fiona at the Farmers on Film conference last week, and it was interesting to hear her speak of the process behind taking the photos. ?It’s lovely to see photos being using in this way to tell the story of Australian farming, particularly as changes happen, it becomes a historical document. Books like this should be treasured. They really do make you feel part of the action too, even though you might be sitting on your sofa in front of the fire.
You can see more of the book contents here.