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Book Bag: Extraordinary Women With Cameras Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

25 August 2022

Sometimes you get to have a little fun reviewing books. Not often but sometimes. And this was one of those times. Who wouldn't want to meet 35 extraordinary women?

These 35 turn out to be photographers and they appear in a children's book that pairs a portrait illustrated by Vanessa Perez with a short biography crafted by Darcy Reed.

The portraits (with a few exceptions) have a text bubble quote accompanying them. We have been assured they are in fact quotes from the individual women featured in the book, pulled directly from past interviews with them.

Some of the bios are also accompanied by a small illustration intimating the photographer's style with a representative example of her work. But the focus of this book is on the women themselves and not their photographs.

It isn't easy to sum a life up in a few words, especially an extraordinary life, one whose arc reached from nowhere to everywhere. But Reed does an admirable job. These don't read like book reports. They read like sparkling little jewels that make you want to try them on.

Her portraits of Lee Miller, Sally Mann and Francesca Woodman were particularly adroitly handled but we were delighted to find Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham and Juliet Margaret Cameron included, too. Just to name a very few.

Every one was a treat to read.

Here's what Reed says about Mary Ellen Mark, for example, subtitled "Photographer of the Homeless and Hollywood Stars."

Mary Ellen Mark's photography captured the lives of both the successful and the struggling. She took pictures of people living on the fringes of society, including runaway homeless kids in Seattle, those living in poverty in India, and protestors of the Vietnam war. She also spent time on movie sets, where she captured behind-the-scenes moments of some of the most famous actors in the world. She published several books and a film about her work, and her photo essays and portraits were exhibited worldwide and appeared in many publications and museums. No matter where she went or who she photographed, she always tried to show their humanity and approach them with empathy.

The book also includes explanations of key photography terms and photo project ideas you can try that are inspired by the photographers themselves. In fact, you may discover, after a few pages, that you've already started a career.

"If you've ever snapped a selfie or posed with your friends for a group shot, you're following in the footsteps of these truly extraordinary women," Reed points out. "We hope this book inspires you to pick up your own camera and start snapping interesting photos. Who knows? Maybe your work will be featured in a museum or book one day!"

Details. Mouse over or tap for captions.

Which may give you the notion that this book isn't just for little kids. And you'd be right. It's challenging enough for kids to return to time and again. But it's also a rewarding survey for older kids. Like us.

You might start wondering why there's only 35 profiles included, especially if a favorite of yours is missing. But don't let that ruffle your feathers. At the back of the book there are 12 more mentioned with one-line descriptions like this:

Letizia Battaglia: Brave Italian photojournalist and photographer.

Whose name is enough to lead you to discover just how she was brave.

And if you want to explore the work of the 35 photographers who are featured, you'll find a QR code on the facing page you can scan to visit the Rocky Nook page for the book where you'll find links to their work.

Which is about as close as you can get to meeting 35 extraordinary women at one time. Short of going to heaven, we suppose.

Extraordinary Women With Cameras by Darcy Reed and Vanessa Perez, published by Rocky Nook, 80 pages, $26.99 (or $16.95 at

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