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Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, March 7, 1999

Books Can Offer Enjoyable Photos, Ways To Enjoy Making Them Yourself!

I've had photography on my mind lately because the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library is holding a photography contest. My background in photography is limited to snapshots and experiments using our digital camera, but my dad was a serious amateur photographer and my childhood was well documented with black and white shots. In fact I think of my childhood like an old newsreel, in black and white. Things didn't get colorful until the 1960's. Today's column features books of photographs that are notable, a couple of biographical works on famous photographers and some books to help you with the technical side of taking pictures.

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge (Viking, 1998).

A children's book that is sophisticated and interesting enough for adults. I grew up in California's San Joaquin Valley, Grapes of Wrath country and Lange's work brought back scenes from migrant labor camps that I witnessed in the early 1950s. Lange had polio as a child and was left with a severe limp. This is a realistic portrait; Lange was not a paragon. She married twice, had children and stepchildren and was torn between her roles of wife/mother and her drive to be an artist.

Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston by Charis Wilson and Wendy Madar (North Point, 1998).

One of the more interesting biography/memoirs about a famous photographer. Weston was in his late forties and Charis was in her late teens when they met in Carmel, California, which was then an artist's colony. They remained friends even after their divorce and excerpts from his letters to her in his last years are touching. I enjoyed this gentle reminiscence of Bohemian life in Depression-era California.

Not Fade Away: The Rock & Roll Photography of Jim Marshall (Little, Brown, 1997).

Take a trip through rock history--from the early 1960s to the present. A collection of the best of Jim Marshall's photography encompasses all the great ones, including the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters, the Allman Brothers, Jackson Brown, and more. Very nostalgic for those of us who came of age in the sixties.

Focus: Five Women Photographers by Sylvia Wolf (Whitman, 1994).

Another children's book which grownups will appreciate profiles five women who view the creative process of photography from extraordinarily different perspectives. Celebrated news photographer Margaret Bourke-White and the Victorian-era Julia Margaret Cameron, known for her dramatic, iconoclastic portraitures, are Wolf's nod to history, while Flor Garduno, Sandy Skoglund, and Lorna Simpson represent the art form today.

The Slanted Lens by Jay P. Morgan (GPG, 1997).

Photocomics is an apt word to describe Morgan's photographic wizardry. Capturing regular people in familiar situations that have gone wildly out of control, giving life to nightmares, fears, and humiliations 100 unforgettable color photos guaranteed to make you laugh or gasp.

Photomosaics by Robert Silvers (Henry Holt, 1997).

There are thousands of images in this book; all arranged to form other images when viewed from afar. A magnifying glass is included in the back of the book; you'll need it. Truly amazing and creative.

Sunday in America (Zondervan, 1997).

A full-color representation of faith and family by 75 talented photographers. Thoughtful essays accent images of people at worship throughout America by noted personalities.

Don't Take My Picture by Craig Alesse (Amhest, 1998).

This is the way I feel sometimes, I want to take interesting snapshots and not make my subjects feel self-conscious. Here is a simple book with basic instructions for getting good snapshots of family and friends, in an easy to understand, non-technical language.

The Business of Commercial Photography by Ira Wexler, (Amphoto, 1997).

Not only does this big, glossy colorful book tell you how to get started in commercial photography; it also profiles thirty award-winning photographers who tell some of the secrets of their success.

Contest "Beyond Words: Celebrating America's Libraries" Photos that demonstrate the best of what your library has to offer and/or how the library makes a difference in your life. For details contact your nearest EVPL library. Prizes will be gift certificates to Schmitt Photo Service. Top winners in each division (professional, amateur/adult and youth) will advance to national level. Deadline is March 31st.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.