Saul Leiter's photography reveals an urban world of rich, yet understated colours and abstract shapes. In some photos, he focuses on a reflective surface or the layer of condensation on a window, causing the objects or people behind them to appear fluid, disjointed or overlaid with a mosaic or other pattern. His black and white work explores juxtapositions, shapes and overlaid surfaces.
I was apprehensive about buying this slim volume of Leiter's work, having recently purchased a copy of another collection of his photos: 'Early Color'. My concern was that there would be too much overlap. I need not have worried. Although about a third of the works in this collection of 64 photos also appear in 'Early Color', the entire book is superb. Moreover, about 25 of the images are of his black and white photos, with which I was entirely unacquainted.
So, what should you do if you are mainly interested in Leiter's colour photography and are hesitating between this and 'Early Color'? If money is no object (and if 'Early Color' is still available, for I do not expect it to remain in print forever), I would recommend choosing 'Early Color'. Although the reproductions in this Photofile book are good, the slightly less bright paper of 'Early Color' better suits Leiter's muted colours. However, if you are budget-conscious or are looking for a selection that includes his monochrome work, this book would be the obvious choice. And if you already own 'Early Color' and are considering another volume of Leiter's wonderful photography, do not hesitate -- this book is a gem.