What better way to tackle our pick of items that tickle our fancy this month than by pigeonholing them into categories? Not just any categories. Categories we entertain somewhat of a love and hate relationship with. Love because they inspire our everyday. Hate because they make our everyday budgets smaller by the day.

Photographer Melika Ngombe

01. Books

Divided into six chapters (Body, Objects, Spaces, Words, Scenes, Faces and Masks), ‘La Photographie n’est pas de l’art’ brings together art collector Sylvio Pearlstein’s monumental private collection of photographs. Built up over four decades, the collection clearly is a passionate and very personal undertaking, as rich as it is eclectic, and this book is the closest you’ll ever get to seeing it in its entirety. If there ever was a granddaddy of fashion photography in Belgium, Serge Leblon would be prime contender. Having shot fashion editorials for the likes of Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Another, all the Belgium-based photographer really needed to crown his career was a book. And, thanks to the initiative of BaseDesign who spearheaded the project, this full-paged opus is pretty much it. “Pretty much” because word is a second volume is on its way very shortly. Goes to show how monumental Leblon’s oeuvre really is.

Left: La Photographie n’est pas l’art, Collection Sylvio Perlstein (2009) – Musee d’Ixelles, Bruxelles. Right: Serge Leblon, Fashion (2011) – Lido.

02. Publishing

Two recent discoveries have kept our passion for print very much alive. Paris-based independent publishing imprint Editions FpCf (the brainchild of graphic designer Claire Schvartz and university professor Maxime Milanesi) launched its fanzine Tell Mum Everything Is Ok with the sole purpose of championing emerging photographers. With a participative approach to content producing (each fanzine’s visual narrative is shaped using photographs that the pair find, or receive), an aesthetic that tilts towards the “less- is-more” (all you get are the photographs and their credits) and a limited print run (the fourth edition was printed to the tune of 500 copies), Tell Mum Everything Is Ok is the kind of cute and cuddly photography fanzine we’d like to see more of. On the other side of the spectrum, Belgian publishing house Le Caillou Bleu is the closest the country gets to Steidl. Founded by 41-year-old Fabrice Wagner, the company, in the words of its founder, “publishes photography books of all type.” And, although the photographers selected deserve mention (Satoru Toma, Andre Cepeda, Christophe Bourgeois), it really is the books’ finishing (textured covers, different types of paper stock) that define Le Caillou Bleu’s catalogue.

03. Memberships

Since its creation nearly 25 years ago, Charleroi’s Musée de la Photographie has accumulated an impressive collection of more than 80,000 pictures and 2 million negatives, making it the closest to heaven on earth for the true photography lover. Tracing back to the very origins of photography in 1860 and renewing its displayed selection on a regular basis, each visit offers a new look at the evolution of the medium, and their frequent exhibitions examine the work of the greatest photographers in depth. This membership card will grant its happy owner free entrance at the museum for one year, invitation to exhibition openings, subscription to Bulletin Photographie Ouverte, a 10% reduction on gift-shop books and items, as well as free entrance in Lausanne’s Musée de l’Elysée. A must-have, in every sense of the word.

Les Amis du Musée de la Photographie membership card (from €20 to €70). Available from the Musée de la Photographie.

04. Gear

Depending on the kind of getaway you’re gearing up to, either one of these cameras is the perfect one for you. If it is a city trip you’re going on, Sony’s new CybershotDSC-TX10 – compact and reactive – is the perfect camera to take along: as good at taking portraits of the little one as it is at capturing urban landscapes. If, on the other hand, you’re setting sail for slightly further (and rougher) shores, Nikon’s Coolpix P7000 – solid and sturdy – is the camera to bring along. Perfect for those Safari treks…

Left: Nikon Coolpix P7000 (€500,67).

Right: Sony Cybershot DSC-TX10 (€350).

05. Magazines

In this day-and-age of instant, digital photography, sifting through the rubble and spotting talent has become harder than ever. Fortunately for us, these three magazines do a spot-on job. The View – a semi-annual platform for contemporary photography – has lead the way since its creation in 2005, doing justice to the photographs it publishes with its weighty paper stock, discreet varnish and generous format. Smaller-scaled and slightly more conceptual, Bokeh’s short texts add to the visual poetry of its selection, whilst quarterly Foam Magazine (a quarterly published by Amsterdam’s museum of the same name) presents eight portfolios around a single theme. Pictured is their Spring 2011 “Happy Issue”.

View Photography Magazine (€15).
Bokeh (€5).
Foam Magazine (€17.50).

06. Tech

Given the amount of camera phone contests we’re often asked to take part in, we thought it was high time we took a closer look at smart-phones that put photography at their core. With a touch screen practically as big as the phone itself and a one-touch-does-it-all policy, BlackBerry’s Torch 9800 scored high in terms of snapping-away. It scored a little lower in terms of the actual telephone (too bulky, small touch keys, a little too fidgety), but this isn’t a ‘telephone special’ now is it?

BlackBerry Torch 9800 (€549,99 from The Phone House and Proximus, €549 from Base).