Sunday, January 22, 2012

256 (2012 #1). Hurricane Story

by Jennifer Shaw

Fine-art photographer Jennifer Shaw was nine months pregnant and living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina approached.  She and her husband and pets evacuated and her son was born the next day in Alabama, the day the storm destroyed her city.  They spent two months and 6000 miles on the road before returning home.

In 46 photographs, with single-sentence captions, Shaw tells the story of their experience.  Shaw used a Holga camera, which explains the vignetting, blur, and soft focus of the square-format photos.  The Holga is considered a toy camera (a simple, inexpensive film camera), and it's fitting that the subjects of the photographs are dolls, toys, and other small models that Shaw has used to tell her story, a graphic-novel memoir.  It's very evocative, and very different from viewing "real" images of the devastation and aftermath.

The hardbound book, by Broken Levee Books, an imprint of Chin Music Press in Seattle, is absolutely gorgeous.  The cover is real cloth and has a lovely sheen to it.  The back endpapers feature a map of Shaw's journey, and the back cover has the tiny footprints of her then-newborn son.  At a list price of $18, it's a bargain for a coffee table book - yet small enough to fit on an end table.

© Amanda Pape - 2012

[This book was obtained through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.  It will be passed on to a young fine-art photographer who works with film and should enjoy it.]

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