Sunday, June 26, 2005

Coffee Table Photo Books

by Christina VanGinkel

A favorite hobby of mine is photography. Not a professional, and with no glorified aspirations or ideas that I will ever be one, I do, nonetheless, love good photography. One of my favorite ways to express this love, beyond my amateur attempts at actual photo taking, is to surround myself with coffee table books celebrating photography in all its beauty and glory.

Some of my favorites are books that are about specific photographers, such as Ansel Adams. His black and white photos, whether in their full-blown glory or within the pages of a book always leave me wanting to view even more of his work. A favorite book of mine that displays some of his most spectacular work is the hardcover, Ansel Adams: National Park Service Photographers. Some critics have said that this book is a bad representation of his work, and while it surely does not rival his actual work, for the price, I think it is useful as an introduction to his work for someone unfamiliar with his style. AS a coffee table book, I love displaying in it just that manner, to get a discussion going about him with visitors to my home. In it are 125 duotone photos, highlighted within 144 pages, each measuring 10 1/4 x 10 1/4" and published 1995. The photos were initially taken by Ansel Adams when he was hired in 1941 by the United States Department of the Interior. While supposedly a several year project, due to the war it was cut short after only a year. Still, in that short time, Ansel Adams snapped enough photos to more than fill this book with his unique style of landscape photography that I feel no other photographer has yet to rival.

Other favorite books of mine that highlight photography at its best are those put out by Time Life. A new purchase of mine, though actually already a few years old, is 'The American Spirit, Meeting the Challenge of September 11'. It displays photography surrounding the tragic day and the pulling together of our Nation after that fateful day. In addition, while it portrays photography by different photographers, it tells through journaling some very interesting perspectives of the photographers themselves. One in particular, the man who took much of the aerial photography for our government, is unique in the fact that he was picked because of an ad he ran in the Yellow Pages offering twenty-four hour service.

If you are fan of photography in any form, you will surely find coffee table books that will not only inspire you, but also provide you with the opportunity to include in your home touches of photographic art that you may not otherwise be able to afford. Coffee table books are also a great way to open your own eyes to styles of photography that may inspire your own photo taking. Think of a subject that interests you, whether it is travel to a particular destination, wild animals, pets, horticulture, a craft such as beadwork, absolutely anything, and you will most likely find a photo book that has chronicled the details of your interest. Head to your local books tore, or shop online, and you will surely find a book worthy of gracing your coffee table in both photographic glory and a subject that interests you.

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