Published Jun 23. 2014 - 9 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 17. 2015

Book review: Salt

Coastal and Flats Fishing

A large and beautiful book about fly-fishing US coastal waters from north to south and east to west.

Tom Rosenbauer
Publishing year: 
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This is one of those books that has you in awe just handling it. Big, heavy, high quality printing on heavy stock paper. Large full spread photos and delicate and discrete text layout. A real coffee table book in the classical sense. It will impress and fascinate anyone who picks it up - even the non-angler.

Renown writer Tom Rosenbauer has teamed up with photographer Andy Anderson - or is it the other way round? Anderson's photos are clearly dominating the book and he is also credited first on the cover.

In spite of being a photo buff I didn't know Andy Anderson, but a little research soon told me that he is a well known profile in the US photography scene, specializing in editorial and commercial lifestyle photography and a veteran in the game, having shot for Men's Journal, Conde Nast, Outside and a whole bunch of other well known outdoors and lifestyle magazines. He also does a lot of commercial work for advertizing. I saw his work referred to as "among the best of the commercial photographers working today", and his online portfolio and stock image site attests to that.
His portfolios show dozens of beautiful young people in stunning scenery, preferably including palms, clear water splashing and some sailboats, surf boards or other paraphernalia connected with the life of the young and the beautiful - and the wealthy. But Anderson's camera also loves the rough, bearded, weather bitten faces of older men typically enjoying some exotic adventure or extreme sport.
His style carries directly over to the pictures in this book, where the young and beautiful are just carrying a fishing rod. OK, to be fair they are not all young or beautiful, but the style is there and Anderson's lifestyle shooting shines through in many of the large photos in Salt. And the rough faces are there too in the portraits of anglers and guides.

Anderson actually does fly-fish himself, so he is no stranger to fishing. His knowledge of the sport shows in the images. Many "outside" photographers miss certain aspects of fishing, but Anderson gets all the situations that are typical for our favorite pastime.
That said there's also a certain monotony about his pictures. Don't get me wrong. The pictures are absolutely brilliant and I wish I could shoot like that, but the book is printed in an extreme landscape format, and there's a large number of pictures spread over two opposite pages, which at first make a jaw-dropping impression, but at a certain point becomes just-another-wide-picture-of water. They are all very beautiful, but I personally get almost an overload of these edge-to-edge vistas. There's also a number of guide-poling-or-pointing-out-fish-to-client images, which again is a very typical and recognizable scene for anybody who has fished with a guide, but also a subject, which gets kinda tired when it's repeated enough. Don't get me wrong. There are dozens upon dozens of breathtaking pictures of lots of subjects: fish, catchers, guides, gear and much more. There's also plenty casting action - and some really nailing the situation in spectacular scenery. I love every one of the angler-casting-in-the-breakers images! There's unfair for you!
I guess that it is not Anderson's fault, but the picture editor who selected the images for the book.

There's unfair for you!

Whether I can blame Tom Rosenbauer for this I don't know, but my guess is that he had his say. He is definitely responsible for the text, and being a seasoned writer he barely sets a foot wrong here. There's actually quite a lot well written text to supplement the images, and once you start reading you discover a treasure trove of great personal observations on fishing. It's not so much that the book turns into a textbook in any way, but still way more than you think when you open the book the first time.

Salt spread - Many spreads are simply one wide picture
Salt spread - Another boat on the large water
Salt spread - There\'s plenty action in many of Anderson\'s images
Salt spread - The text layout is nice and discrete, the photos large
Spreads from Salt

The book is divided into eight themes such as Wading, Fish, Weather and others, and this sectioning works quite well, but of course also enhances the aforementioned sense of a certain monotony.
All that said there's little doubt that this is a Global Class book. The images are enviously beautiful and the writing exquisite.

It's fairly expensive book, listed at US$55 from the publisher, but it's available at lower prices already, and sells for down to US$33.- or £32.50 from new. Even at the list price of 55 dollars you still get a lot of book for your money - like in 23.4 x 32.5 x 2.5 centimeters or 9.2 x 12.8 x 1 inches and a hefty 2 kilos or 4 lbs. Not suited as bedtime reading unless you are well trained or have a large bed.


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