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Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past Paperback – October 16, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"I'm absolutely fascinated ... there's just enough written [on the photos] to make each image more powerful, and leave you wanting to know more." -

From the Back Cover

With the candid quirkiness of Awkward Family Photos and the confessional intimacy of PostSecret, Ransom Riggs's Talking Pictures is a haunting collection of antique found photographs—with evocative inscriptions that bring these lost personal moments to life—from the author of the New York Times bestselling illustrated novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Each image in Talking Pictures reveals a singular, frozen moment in a person's life, be it joyful, quiet, or steeped in sorrow. Yet the book's unique depth comes from the writing accompanying each photo: as with the caption revealing how one seemingly random snapshot of a dancing couple captured the first dance of their 40-year marriage, each successive inscription shines like a flashbulb illuminating a photograph's particular context and lighting up our connection to the past.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Original edition (October 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062099493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062099495
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ransom Riggs grew up in Florida, where he spent his formative years making silly movies with his friends in their various backyards, snorkeling, and complaining about the heat. He studied English at Kenyon College and film at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles. He makes films you can watch on his YouTube page: He enjoys traveling to exotic lands and complaining about the heat. He would like to thank you for reading this short biography.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#17 in Books > Teens
#17 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By DrBee on October 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I was a small child in Chicago my parents and I regularly rode the elevated trains through the different neighborhoods. At each stop I could peer across the tracks at people and their back porches and wonder what their lives were like. Whose sled was leaned up on the wall of the porch? Why didn't those people take down their Christmas decorations? Sometimes I would spot a crying child or see what looked like an argument through an apartment window. Or look down on the players on a basketball court- who was playing? Who stood off to the side? What were their conversations about? I enjoyed making up little stories about these "el" people and their lives and wondred what it would be like to be a part of their lives. This collection of photographs gave me the same pleasure. A glimpse into a stranger's life- seeing someone or something that wasn't intended for me to see. Some of the photographs provided a bit of information about what was taking place or what it meant to the subject of the photo. Others raised eerie questions. I enjoyed the book very much and wished that the author had included more photographs. I felt as if I was just getting started when it came to the end.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Starz on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was very pleased with this book. Though I have never 'collected' other peoples discarded photos, most of the photos in the book bore a striking resemblence to the old family albums my parents have kept over the years, many with captions as curious and quaint, sassy and self-deprecating. I'm always taken aback when I consider these were real people with lives and hopes and dreams, and we are given the priviledge of sometimes knowing what the years brought to them, after the photos were taken. It brings mortality home to appreciate how many came before us, stars in their eyes at what their future held, and the years unfolded and time did what time will do. I was especially moved by the grouping of photos of the young girl who died at the age of 10. Somewhere there's a whole story about why someone would choose to dispose of such a touching reminder of the short life of a girl so obviously well loved.

Also, the photo of Dorothy at the beginning, who died of leukemia, reminded me of a picture my mother has of her dear cousin who died of leukemia at age 17 back in the late 1940s. She, too, was so beautiful and seemingly full of life. Thank you, Mr. Riggs, for sharing your treasure trove with us.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. Bass on October 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From cover to cover, this book is filled with fascinating images that are thought provoking and capture the reader's imagination. The author wisely lets the images and their messages do the "talking" and the reader is left to do the interpretation which is the point of the book. As a collector of such images and similar books in this field, I was not disappointed with the "interestingess" of photos included, the arrangement by theme, and the large number of images included. This is the kind of book that you can pick up again and again and discover something new. Destined to become a classic within the field of found/vernacular photography, this book is a keeper and a must have. In short, this book works and works well.

The quality of the reproductions and the printing is very good and for the price it's a real bargain. I purchased additional copies to give as gifts.

A sequel to "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" this book is not (another fascinating book by the way), it was not intended to be. Nor is it an overly wordy or scholarly work on found/vernacular photography, which is a good thing in my opinion. As previously mentioned, the author expertly presents the material and the reader is left to explore the context of each image paired with its message. The images within the book stand on their own and do so superbly. I highly recommend this book, it's a real gem.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Meglet on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this "photo album" so immensely I immediately sent a digital gift of it to my mother. It's so incredibly human, proving that our emotions, struggles, joys, sorrows, and laughs are timeless, bonds that reach across decades, even centuries, to tie us together in the experience of life. Ransom Riggs is a rare historian capturing this fragile record of our collective memories, and I applaud his dedication to keeping this rapidly vanishing resource alive.

TALKING PICTURES goes from hilarious to heartbreaking and back again, plus everthything in between. It's as fun to flip through as a family album - only more poignant and irreverent. These resurrected bits of rubbish depict *real* people, are real photos, snapped with purpose, only to become a swirling pile leaves fallen from the family tree, caught on the winds of change and swept up, rescued, and collected by Riggs and his fellow enthusiasts.

I know my own grandparents were guilty of the very crime of tossing out photographs when they moved across the country in '69. I wish I wish they hadn't done that.

I'm going to start turning my digital photographs into real physical prints, and writing on them, too. Riggs is right: this is too important to our history to leave to computers, files, memory cards, flash drives, and Facebook!

I'll be giving a copy of this book to many people on my list this Holiday season. It's so entertaining and enchanting I want to share it with everyone I know.
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