Max Gerber's book "My Heart Vs. The Real World" has been in the works for years now. I was fortunate to see some of the images mocked up in a book format a few years back and though I was attracted to the images, I was less thrilled with the subject matter, fearing that it could easily fall into Life Magazine/ People Magazine territory: sick kids. We've all seen this story a trillion times, so why again? Why now?
When I got my hands on the book last week I was leafing thru it, a superfast 30 second view of the book and got stopped on the image of Max in the mirror with the 2 kids. I've taken this shot a million times of myself, but this one carries an emotional wallop. What is up? I started over and put the time into the book.
Woven into this book is Max's story. He is in the book, in words and pictures, telling his story of being a kid, like the kids in the book, growing up with heart disease. He tells us, his parents tell us, about his childhood with words and pictures and then gets into the stories of the kids in the book.
After reading Gerber's chapter on himself, one can't really look at the images of the kids the same. At it's best it seems like he is channelling the kids, finding aspects of himself in each kid to focus in on, which gives the photographs this kind of psychic power. When Gerber photographs a bunch of boys ripping open a present at a birthday party, it just seems to transcend the subject matter into a picture about wanting to have a normal life with small normal thrills.
The photographer isn't really just connecting with his subjects in this book, it seems like he is trying to figure something out thru them... and we are just here witnessing it all. By the time you get to the end of the book and see the shot of Gerber photographing himself in the mirror with two of the kids, the book kind of hits this emotional crescendo and you see what this is about. MG is using photography to understand his own life, thru these kids. The book was a document of this kind of personal fact-finding mission.
In case you are wondering...of course he is a bud of mine. But that doesn't mean this stuff is not all true. Learn more about it HERE. Buy it HERE.
all photographs by Max Gerber