Himalayan Portfolios; Journeys of the Imagination

Kenneth Hanson

Transcript of the Faith Middleton Book Show

Connecticut Public Radio, WNPR, Monday, October13, 2005

This will be available as a podcast shortly.


The Book Show: Great reads in all categories – 10/13/2008

The following is the first choice by Lee Jacobus and the third book discussed. It starts about 5 minutes into the show.

Faith: Now Lee Jacobus, what do you have?

Lee: Well I have on my lap, as you can see, unquestionably the most beautiful photography book that I think I have ever seen in my life, and I have seen a great many. This is a book by Kenneth Hanson and it is called Himalayan Portfolios; Journeys of the Imagination. The book is astonishing because this man, Kenneth Hanson, risked his life to make these photographs. He is originally British, in fact he is still British, obviously, but he has lived in America for most of his life. He started to photograph in the Lake District in England, where, of course, Wordsworth was the leading poet. He has Wordsworth behind him in all these photographs and the writing that he does here. This is an enormously poetic book. I put him in the category of Ansel Adams and Timothy O’Sullivan who are among the greatest photographers who ever lived.

These photographs are staggering. I have to put this on the floor and open up the leaves to show you how immense and powerful these images are -- and they are really extraordinary in every way. I am just going to open the book here and show you two photographs of people he has photographed — in places where he has photographed — because I want you to see that these are magnificent black and white photographs taken with a 4x5 view camera. Photographers listening to me will know precisely what I am talking about. I have used a 4x5 camera. I know exactly how difficult they are to use —how difficult, how daunting, and how extraordinary powerful the images are that you can get.

He has made many journeys to the Himalayas and journeyed to Tibet. He became cognizant of the languages and history and this book is filled not only with photographs but with beautiful essays that deal with the poetic underpinnings of all these experiences. Looking at these mountains just gives you an astonishing chill, partly because they are covered with snow, but partly they represent a part of the world you and I don’t know much about. He immersed himself in it. He found himself part of the culture. He made these photographs a work of love as well as a work of art.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a real treasure for anyone who is able to get a copy of it. It is really extraordinary and it is called Himalayan Portfolios — and there are five of them: separate portfolios — by Kenneth Hanson.

Now I might point out that Kenneth Hanson lives nearby. He is not a stranger to this community. He lives, I believe, in Orange at the moment.

This is an extraordinary book. I can’t praise it highly enough.

Faith: Himalayan Portfolios.

Lee: Himalayan Portfolios.

Faith: So this looks like a holiday gift that…

Lee (cutting in): This is one of the greatest gifts you could give anyone who has… Faith (Laughter, cutting in): …someone special in your life.

Lee: Absolutely.


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