Russell James, ANGELS

Once again, I find myself in jealous awe of Russell James.  The professional photographer not only takes pictures of supermodels for a living, but he gets them to pose casually (and often naked) for him as well.  His book Angels is a collection of these photographs -- and it is stunning.

Unlike James' last book, V2, Angels is less focused on the settings and backgrounds and more about the models.  There's a wide number of subjects here; almost all are some of the biggest names in Victoria's Secret, plus singer Rihanna.  The photographs have a diverse feel to them, whether narrowing in closely on one body part, or celebrating the look one a model's face, or even bringing in the background of reflective glass or an exotic lake.  And the pictures are both single-and two-page works.
Once again, the combination of James' talent and the models' beauty results in some truly spectacular photographs.  These aren't cheesecake pictures or rejected catalog shots, but rather varied and breathtaking images of beauty, cloaked in shadow or luxuriating in the light.  And the large number of models and substantial page count of this coffee table book (304!) provides much to enjoy.

Alas, Angels is not perfect.   When a photographs is a single page, the page to its left is completely black; this may be artistically pleasing, but it also means a lot of the book is, essentially, blank pages.  (In this 304 page book, there are 171 photographs.)  There's also a problem with organization: The photos aren't arranged by model or chronology -- and there are no page numbers.  While there is an index in the back with thumbnails of each photo, its model and age, and the "page number" for the photo, it's a bit of a task flipping back and forth from book to index trying to learn or find a specific photo.  But the latter issue is like complaining about the music in a porno: It's not why you're there, and it's a very small issue in light of what you're getting overall.

Angels is a hefty and wonderful collection of beautiful photography of beautiful women.  For those who enjoy the visual celebration of the female form, this is a worthy addition to your library, and certainly worth having on display on the proverbial coffee table.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

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