Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
CERTAIN images of San Francisco are as familiar as those in our
own back yard, so can the simple, but aptly-titled San Francisco,
from Gerald and Marc Hoberman, offer anything more than a dozen
or so other books on the subject? I think it can.
Indeed, you need go no further than the contents page for proof.
There, you will find yourself standing at the foot of Nob Hill
- a favourite with photographers.
But, strangely, the focal point of Hoberman's image is not, as
you might expect, the rollercoaster nature of the hill, or even
the cable car rails running in parallel lines from top to bottom.
No, it's the man crossing the road beneath an open umbrella.
It's only then, you realise the sky is grey and the rails shiny
with rain, making it intensely atmospheric and different from
all the rest.
And just how many times, you might ask, can the Golden Gate Bridge
be photographed without it becoming boring?
Here, you'll find 14 images which, out of the book's total of
around 200, isn't, in fact, many.
Some, of course, will be familiar and reassuringly so, while
others are taken from an entirely new perspective, giving it a
distinction that is completely original.
But of the 14, my favourite, on page 121, is a night-time view
when, modestly illuminated, it looks truly golden.
In fact, the whole of San Francisco is depicted here in beautiful
and innovative colour photographs - the cable cars that are a
must for every tourist; the Oakland-Bay Bridge, an engineering
marvel to rival the Golden Gate, although sadly, it's often perceived
as second-best; Coit Tower, or the nozzle of a fireman's hose
- it's for you to decide and, of course, Alcatraz - the island
prison that has been immortalized by Hollywood in countless films.
But here, too, is the lesser known San Francisco - the Dutch
windmill in the north west corner of the Golden Gate Park; the
shoe-shine man outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, and an advertising
kiosk with a fantasy hero leaping into action - all an intrinsic
part of this world-famous and much-loved city by the Bay.
And if all this sounds a bit like a travelogue, you would be
right, for turning the pages of 'San Francisco' is like discovering
the city anew.
So, whether a seasoned, an aspiring or simply an armchair visitor,
this book will delight from cover to cover.
Photograph by Lizzie Guilfoyle