The Story of a Photograph: Walker Evans, Ellie Mae Burroughs, and the Great Depression by Jerry L. Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had high hopes for this little book on The Story of a Photograph, then as I read it I became a little disappointed, but by the end, I'm glad to have read it. The full title (The Story of a Photograph: Walker Evans, Ellie Mae Burroughs, and the Great Depression) and the synopsis provided on Amazon and Goodreads leads one to believe that there will be some discussion of the effects of the Depression on tenant farmers of the south as seen through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans. Evans was hired as a WPA employee during the age of the New Deal, to photograph the poor in the south to use as election propaganda. His photo of Ellie Mae Burroughs, the wife of a tenant farmer in Alabama has been one of Evans most famous photos and has become, as some have called it, the symbol of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, the story digresses and at times became more of a look at photography in the 1930s with diatribes on features like aperture and flash.
By the end, Thompson does a fair job of bringing it full circle to discuss documentary vs. documentary style through the lens. A photo is, after all, worth a thousand words and as the author states, "art is long, but life is short". All too soon, our memories may fade, but life captured in photos, can forever hold a moment in time.
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