Titled Architecture + Beauty, this compendium comprises work that captures John's fascination with history, casting, documentaries and graphic forms. Drawing on a diverse array of subject matter, including cadets on a USSR training ship, the interior of the longest ship operating on the Great Lakes, and a sporting event for Portuguese-speaking nations, this collection is a fine showcase for his keen photographic eye.
Opening with a visual foreword, which includes a short series of black and white photographs of public diving boards in New South Wales juxtaposed with abstract body parts, the book does a fine job of setting the tone for the photographer whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar and GQ style to name but a few.
As well showcasing diving platforms that have deteriorated from corrosion caused by salty sea air, the book boasts portraits of naval cadets taken onboard the STS Kruzenshtern, a four-mast sailing ship and the second-largest traditional sailing vessel still in operation. The publisher explains that the ship, built in 1926, "was originally a German ship surrendered to the USSR in 1946 as a war reparation.
"The ship makes three training voyages annually, and the uniforms of the 120 cadets onboard never leave the ship and are handed down from one cadet to the next. Balsom spent two days on the ship during a training exercise in the Bay of Biscay and captured the cadets unguarded, on and off-duty."
The STS Kruzenshtern isn't the only boat to feature in Architecture + Beauty. The Paul R Tregurtha also makes an appearance, although if you're familiar with the ships of the Great Lakes in the US, then you'll know her by her unofficial name, the 'Queen of the Lakes'. "Rather than focusing on the exterior of the ship, the photographs focus on the overlooked interior details and textures, capturing the mechanics, imperfections and traces of human presence."
Capping off Architecture + Beauty is a project shot in Lisbon at the Lusophony Games. These images capture the joy, exhaustion, concentration and playfulness of the participants at this multi-sport event. As with all the other personal projects in this book, these photographs are a striking juxtaposition that find beauty in some of the most unexpected of places.
Coming in at 132 pages, with a mix of duotone and full-colour images, Architecture + Beauty is a unique opportunity to delve into the many personal projects of a photography icon. It's currently on sale from the Gost Books website, and the insightful compendium can be ordered now for £40.