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Alberta Book: Photographs by George Webber

As an urban explorer who holds a love for urbex photography, I am continually on the lookout for works published by professional photographers. My wife and I often find ourselves at the nearby Indigo/Chapters store as she is an avid bookworm who easily manages to read at least 3-4 novels a month. While she browses I always end up gravitating towards the photography/fine arts section to see what’s new. I then quickly glance through the local interest section which generally has few titles that peak my interest. However, on one of our recent “book dates”, I came across a photography book by George Webber simply called Alberta Book. I must admit that I’ve never heard of Mr Webber but the cover photo certainly caught my attention.

The book contains over 200 color photographs of Webber’s work compiled over 40 years of photographing and exploring the many forgotten Alberta towns that dot the Canadian prairies. An abundance of pictures depicting deteriorating signs, abandoned buildings, and vintage automobiles fill the collection. I put the book back and strolled off to see how my wife was doing in her search for new novels. As she often does, she asked me if I had found anything interesting to which I showed her the book. I hummed and hawed as I always do in deciding whether or not to buy it, when she quickly grabbed it and said “Let’s get it”.

Later that night I started to look through it, page by page, and wasn’t initially impressed. Perhaps a little explorer envy happening! But with each passing page I became more and more fascinated with his photos. Over the years, our explorations have brought us to many of the locations depicted in Mr Webber's book and my wife, who was beside me, was enjoying pointing out familiar buildings and signs. I then really began to “look” at each picture. The composition, the vibrancy of color and the way he captures his subject in frame. Mr. Webber’s style slowly became evident and then suddenly “inspirational”.

As a rural explorer who mainly photographs crumbling interiors, which I do find exceptionally beautiful, I realized that I have never once bothered to photograph any of the small little towns that we have passed through in our many years of travel. Mr Webber’s book slowly opened my eyes and made me realize there’s much more to “see” when traveling the prairies than simply looking for crumbling homesteads. So many opportunities seemed suddenly lost.

The photographs in Mr Webber’s book require careful viewing and are a delight to take in and, as an amateur photographer with a similar interest, are just “fun” to see how he approaches the remnants of Alberta’s past. I’m hardly the type to review or critique photography books, but if you love rural exploration on Alberta’s prairies as I do, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this book.