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Strange Days, Dangerous Nights: Photos from the Speed Graphic Era Hardcover – October 15, 2004
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
This book takes a different view from those historical photographic compilations of the NY Times, or LA Times or the Chicago Tribune, even AP. The photogs at St Paul did not get a chance to shoot the Hindenburg; but they did have plenty of chances to shoot snow storms, floods, and local queens of every sort. They did it with aplomb, and Larry Millett does a wonderful job writing about it, and an even better job of photo editing.
As a current photographer at the St PaulPioneer Press; I am blown away by the work of these guys. Really. I just never knew what these guys did on a daily basis--now I do, and I respect my profession even more.
The photos in the eight chapters show an intriguing look back to life in the city from 1945 to 1965, plenty of crime scene stuff (a few are very graphic if your are worried about seeing such photos) but also the regular city newspaper fare, celebrities, civic functions, public gatherings, kids having fun and plenty of sports coverage. An interesting chapter covers the changing face of St Paul, as old buildings are torn down to be replaced with new commercial units and suburbs.
Larry Millet does an excellent job of captioning the two hundred photos (mostly one to a page) not just a few words but two hundred or so for each image and his intro is a succinct review of the importance of news photos to local and city papers across America decades ago. Books about such photos from this period do rather concentrate on sensational crime and blood because they are mostly missing from today's papers. Millett explains that back then the press and the police enjoyed a cosy relationship and mostly didn't ask too many awkward questions about the police version of events. The papers got access to crime scenes for graphic photos and the cops had their faces in the morning editions for fighting crime. TV covers it all today but really gets no closer than the yellow crime-scene tape.
Many of the photos in the book are specific to St Paul but there a plenty that show a past America that applies to any city and so is a good visual record of news focussed events. My only criticism is that I would have expected to see some small thumbnails of pages from the papers showing how the photos were used with their headlines. The essential visual thing about tabloid papers are the headlines and eye-grabbing photos that pull the reader into the story. Apart from that I thought the book was first class, beautifully designed and printed with a really strong editorial content.
BTW I noticed that some reviewers expected to find background information about the Speed Graphic camera, the book is not about the camera but what it produced. There is a ton of information about the camera on the Graflex website, just put the name into A9 or Google.
***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
My brother was a photographer at one of the colleges in St. Paul and he used a Speed Graphic camera. He often followed fire trucks and squad cars around the streets of St. Paul and took equally fascinating photos. He sent me this book as a gift and I have not been able to set it down. The cover photo alone is worth the price of the book.
The book covers the use of photos and how they where touched up to enhance the photo and therefore enhance the story. All photo's are in black and white.
We have all seen a lot of these images from New York, but not from many other places.
This is well-worthwhile reading for those interested in the style and content of press photography in past years.