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Ang, Tom. Photography: The Definitive Visual History.

Ang, Tom. Photography: The Definitive Visual History. DK, 2014. 480p. $50. 978-1-4654-2288-0. Photos.

A nuts-and-bolts summation of more than two centuries of photography, Ang's survey squeezes a massive history onto oversized pages. Profiles of such giants of the past as Matthew Brady, Sebastian Salgado, Margaret Bourke-White, and Alfred Stieglitz particularize developments in diagonal thrust, chiaroscuro, and the use of platinotype. Juxtaposition poses human forms in motion and in repose opposite architectural geometries, celebrity vamping, candid street bustle, and light and shade in nature. The "Ends of the Universe" section introduces optics as a means of probing heavenly bodies and celestial star patterns.

Ang is better at contrasts of landmarks--Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Karnac, Whitby, Yellowstone, the Vatican--than at tender, personal portraiture and child motifs. Some of his layout grabs the readers eye with two-page mastery; for example, Sonny Liston cowing before Muhammad Ali. Unfortunately, for a tutorial text, many pages crowd too many examples into small space, as with the five photographs on pages 140141, a five-piece spread on Alfred Eisenstaedt on pages 238-239, and four photos on pages 186-187. The result impedes recognition of angles and subjects, a loss to the Nan Goldin shot at the bottom of page 319. Overall, the compendium deserves consideration as a teaching text for middle and high school libraries, community colleges, public libraries, and personal collections.--Mary Ellen Snodgrass.

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Author:Snodgrass, Mary Ellen
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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