I’m compiling my list of summer reading, books I want to take to the cottage and on the road trips we have planned. I had fun reviewing one of Liz Steel’s lessons on constructing volumes (she is getting ready to offer her class again here) and drawing my own stack of books. I have finished the top two novels and have begun the third. At this point I strongly recommend Mary Coin by Marisa Silver. Silver tells a fictional account of the lives of well-known photographer, Dorothea Lange and the subject of her most famous photograph, Florence Owens Thompson. I picked up a copy of the book after I watched a TVO documentary about Lange, a talented and determined woman who forged an artistic career in the 1930’s. Here is the fictional letter from Lange to the subject of her famous photograph, Migrant Mother, describing the experience of taking the ‘right photograph’. And isn’t there a similar magic in sketching?
There is a sense you get when you have taken the right photograph. It is a feeling that you have lived that second of your life more completely than any other. The moment opens, and you realize how much larger your life is that you thought it was, how much closer to a kind of …is it happiness? I don’t know. I saw you and I recognized you the way you recognize people in your dreams even if you don’t know who they are. That’s all a photograph is, really. A recognition.