12 August 2008

Library Book: The Art of the American Snapshot

It's been awhile, but that's not my fault. Blame it on the library not ordering many interesting books. We did, however, just receive The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978. I'm sure I've said before that I like pretty pictures, and of course this book is full of them. The best part about this book is what makes it different from most other photography books: like the title says, these photos are snapshots. It's not full of artsy pictures from pro photographers, but instead it shows normal people taking pictures of themselves, their friends, and their families, just like everyone on Facebook and Flickr now. The chapters are broken down by decades, and you can see the cultures changing simply by looking back at these pictures. You'll see it in the clothes the people wear in the photos, and it's even as if you can see the attitudes changing as time progresses. You'll see a strange sense of discomfort mixed in with the humor of the 1950s, like two women sunbathing with gasmasks on. Then in the 1960s it seems that discomfort is gone, and, we are greeted by someone's grandmother enjoying her birthday cake with a smile and a monolithic middle-finger. Worth checking out for its cultural eyewitness factor and, of course, lots of pretty pictures.

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