Picture FromThe Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives

Picturing The Century Book Review

Sometimes books get too ambitious…

Picturing The Century Book Review: An excess ambition is all over the book Picturing The Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives, published by The University of Washington Press in 1999. In 136 slim pages, this book attempts to educate the reader in 100 years of photographic wonderment. It’s an effort that can only fail, and it does.

Picture FromThe Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives
FromThe Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives

The book makes an effort to introduce us to explosive photography journalists of the past century including Dorthea Lange, Ansel Adams, Lewis Hine, George Ackerman, and Danny Lyon, among others. But the book does a poor job of introducing their works–and then it layers a survey of 100 years of photography over top of that! It couldn’t be done in 400 pages, and it is certainly not well done in these 136.

Book: Picturing The Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives by PhotoBurrito.com
Book: Picturing The Century, One Hundred Years of Photography From The National Archives by PhotoBurrito.com

This is a book that never had a chance to satisfy its readers because the scope is too broad and the coverage too narrow. The photography is of course, excellent. But it is just a tease. Where depth is needed, none is evident. Where breadth is needed, space is lacking. There are many photography books available that do a better job of matching their results to their ambitions.  Please check the books category on PhotoBurrito.com for a sampling of the ones I recommend. And skip this one.

 All text and images copyright 2014 by Don Merz and PhotoBurrito.com
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