Art · Biography · History · In the Library · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Photography · Quick Read!

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning: Her Lifetime in Photography | by Elizabeth Partridge

Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning: Her Lifetime in Photography by Elizabeth Partridge
(Chronicle Books, 2013, 192 pages)

Even if you don’t know the name Dorothea Lange, you know her work – specifically her piece “Migrant Mother” that captured an impoverished mother with her children in the mid 1930s. This book begins with a short biographical essay that provides a brief overview of Lange’s life. You get just enough information to have a feel for her as a photographer, but you’re also left wanting to learn more.

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning presents 100 photographs that span Lange’s career as a photographer. I just learned that the book is meant to serve as a companion piece for a PBS American Masters episode about Lange that will air this fall. I enjoyed getting a feel for the range of Lange’s photographs and the essay only piqued my interest and has me eager to learn more about this woman. I already have Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits on my “to read” list. Whether you’re already a Lange fan or not, if you appreciate photography and its ties to history you’ll be interested in this book.

Cats! · Fashion · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Photography · Quick Read!

Grace: A Memoir | by Grace Coddington

GraceGrace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
(Random House, 2012, 416 pages)

I was intrigued by Grace Coddington after watching the documentary “The September Issue,” which looked at what goes into creating the September issue for Vogue magazine. Grace was the standout star of the film because of her dedication, focus, and sass in the face of Anna Wintour. This memoir looks back at Grace’s life and recounts her journey from a small island life in England to the Creative Director of American Vogue. Photos of her life and sketches done by Grace are sprinkled throughout the text. It’s written in a very engaging way and despite being lengthy the type was on the larger side and it was easy to read. There’s no question she led (and continues to lead) an interesting life.

While reading this book I found myself Googling the models and photographers Grace mentions. I was definitely exposed to new people and gained a better appreciation for the work that goes into creating a fashion photograph. It even inspired my to resubscribe to the magazine! If you’re into fashion, or happened to see “The September Issue,” have an appreciation for the magazine industry, or simply love a good memoir, you’ll enjoy this book. There were little bits of celebrity gossip interspersed and it was interesting to see the role of fashion change through Grace’s life. Plus she loves cats so… I like her that much more now 🙂

History · Julia P · Non-Fiction · Photography

The Photographs of Marion Post Wolcott

The Photographs of Marion Post Wolcott by Marion Post Wolcott
(Library of Congress, 2008, 50 pages)

Even though you may not know the name Marion Post Wolcott, you undoubtedly know her work.  I saw an article somewhere that talked about Wolcott and it showed one of her photographs.  Something about her made me want to learn more.  I wanted to see what kind of photographs she took when working for the Farm Security Administration during the 1930s and 40s.  Even though this book only offered a little biographical information (provided in the introduction by Francine Prose), it was enough to provide a good basic overview of who she was, how she came to take the photographs that she did, and why it is so few people seem to know her name, despite having some very well-known photographs.

This was a small book, published by the Library of Congress, highlighting 50 of Wolcott’s photographs.  She does an amazing job capturing the diverse (and, arguably, divisive) nature of our country during the 30s and 40s.  It’s amazing how much can be captured in a single photograph.

I think this was a good gateway book because it got me interested in the FSA – Office of War Information collection of photographs (documenting life in America from the Depression to WWII), it made me want to learn more about Wolcott specifically, and it got me thinking about the WPA…  So there are a lot of different directions I could take this.  But I guess it says a lot about Wolcott’s work that my mind’s going in all these different directions.