My fascination with books comes from a strong legacy. My first memory of anything in my life? Sitting on the floor with a big picture book in my lap. It might have been Madeline. I’m three or four years old.
At my elementary school, the library consisted of two small bookshelves in the hallway outside the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. I remember being drawn towards the books, needing to physically touch them, then choosing one to look through slowly and sound out the words.
When it comes to writing a book, the whole project, I design the layout, the visual aspect informing the text and the words helping to determine what the pages should look like.
For me, the ability to be involved in all the decision-making aspects doesn’t change, whether I’m in the press room to approve the sheets coming out of an offset printer or using a print-on-demand service, I like the challenge. It’s all still ink on paper and my books are self-published, with text, design and photography of my own.
The rise of e-book readers, yeah, I know. I have many books on my Kindle but that reading experience often puts me to sleep. Literally, to sleep. I don’t like the percentage notation, either. Information about how much of the book I’ve completed makes me feel like I’m in a race to the finish line rather than immersed in an experience to savor.
I guess I’m old-fashioned in this sense. I prefer the tactile sensation of holding an actual book in my hands. It engages senses other than sight – touch, smell, hearing – and I like being able to flip back through pages to check something the author teased me with. Foreshadowing. Hints about a character flaw. A particular turn of phrase.
So you see, I still like to make books you can hold, not ones you log into. Others agree, as physical books with pages you can turn are staging a comeback.
Books by ML Hart
1993 – 1997: A group of photographers found an online home in the early days of consumer access to the internet.
We were a group of photographers on the Fine Art Board (FAB) on AOL. Discussions weren’t threaded. People wrote long diatribes, mixing up topics. I came of age as an artist in this group, and I wasn’t the only one who did.
Casually called THE FAB BOOK, this is our story. And yes, the misspelling is intentional.
A hundred interwoven stories of how opera gets to opening night create a mosaic of this most-collaborative performing art.
My long-term documentary project had some steep learning curves but, trial by fire, it really made me as an artist. Almost two years of daily observation with cameras and journal in rehearsals and backstage gave me the raw material. My original vision had been a lot of photographs with identifying captions, but it evolved – as creative projects do – into a patchwork quilt of stories wrapped around the images.
This book was finished when it went to press, of course, but there was more I needed to explore. That more turned into Passion & Glory at the Opera.
This is about the people who make music. And depending on how you look, it can be a portrait of the music itself.
I made stage shots in a lot of different venues in the mid 1990s, learned a lot about photography. Most of all, I found I wanted to pursue a sense of emotion as a photographer.
The musicians themselves are dedicated to the music, not the celebrity, even when that was part of it. But back then, not all of them were stars. They all knew each other, played backup for each other, had a great time. That joy comes across, through my lens.