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Our Kind of People: American Groups and Rituals Hardcover – January 1, 1975


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Straight Arrow Books; First Edition edition (1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879320842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879320843
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,083,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on January 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I recently bought a used copy of this book and a beautiful re-issue of Owens 1977 title: Working . Originally published in 1975 `Our kind of people' follows the same look as `Suburbia' and `Working', essentially picture books rather than photo books and I'm hoping that Fotofolio, who published the revised `Working' in a photo book format will do the same for this title. These wonderful photos deserve quality paper and printing.

American clubs and groups is the theme for this book and Owens has photographed, primarily for a local paper in the San Francisco area, a wide range of gatherings from the predictable Rotary Club, Masons and American Legion to obscure gatherings of a few folk who have a common interest in some activity. These are newspaper style photos: no nonsense, information laden shots that project a positive image, photos that work hard for the viewer.

Looking through the photos in this book, Suburbia, Leisure and Working it's clear that here is a photographer who has brilliantly captured the American Dream in the Seventies but I think he has gone further because he has taken the trouble to provide some relevant text to most of his photos which gives a more complete picture to the viewer.

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adam Rust VINE VOICE on October 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most unusual books in print that you will ever see. These are photographs of people spending their free time with their "own kind." It is a psychological portrait of identity. It is specifically of the California community where he worked as a newspaper photographer for several years.

Owens has allowed these people to construct their own representations. Yet, when he puts the pictures side-by-side, it makes a very different statement.

If I could use one example to explain this book, it would be a photograph of a bible study group. The eight or so people, clad in 70s stretch pants, are praying in a living room. Their bodies are twisted, their effort at prayer full of intent. The caption reads "our informal bible study...read the Book of Job. We finished the story in about three months. After that, our group disbanded."

If you have been asked to take a group picture, you will understand the challenge. It is hard to make a meaningful comment about a group when they control the pose and the picture taking. These kind of photographs are often called "grip and grins" or "snaps." If you work for a community newspaper, you are asked to take them regularly. The problem is that the pictures often have very little story-telling ability.

That is what Bill Owens has overcome. Each picture provides a set of clues about what values matter to the subjects in his pictures. He has a unforgiving eye. He is not aiming to make heroes out of his subjects. To the contrary, in most cases, Owens is revealing them for their faults.

This book was made during the rise of suburban America. These photographs show a new social frontier that was being constructed, when people left the relative diversity of urban areas for the segregation of outer suburbs. This subtext is not stated by the author, but it is the larger message of his work, both in this book and in Suburbia.
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