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Thread: Old national parks photography books

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    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Old national parks photography books

    This is a question for the older generation.

    I am researching the history of photographic books about the U.S. national parks, and in particular the titles that cover most of all the parks, as opposed to being about a specific park. So far, I've seen the various editions of "National Parks Portfolio" (http://www.terragalleria.com/blog/th...tography-book/) in the pre-war, Ansel Adams books and Nelson Beecher Keyes's "America's National Parks" in the 50s/60s, David Muench's books starting in the late 70s - back when he was described as "perhaps the best young American landscape photographer.

    Any notable books that I missed ? In particular I've a gap in the mid 60s to mid 70s years. What was the prominent book about the national parks then ?

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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    Quote Originally Posted by QT Luong View Post
    This is a question for the older generation.

    I am researching the history of photographic books about the U.S. national parks, and in particular the titles that cover most of all the parks, as opposed to being about a specific park. So far, I've seen the various editions of "National Parks Portfolio" (http://www.terragalleria.com/blog/th...tography-book/) in the pre-war, Ansel Adams books and Nelson Beecher Keyes's "America's National Parks" in the 50s/60s, David Muench's books starting in the late 70s - back when he was described as "perhaps the best young American landscape photographer.

    Any notable books that I missed ? In particular I've a gap in the mid 60s to mid 70s years. What was the prominent book about the national parks then ?

    I think the single most important NP photographer of all time was Frank J. Haynes. I'm a little surprised you aren't familiar with him. He was most active in the 80s and 90s. (I have six of his books.) Another would be WH Jackson.


    Kent in SD
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    Founder QT Luong's Avatar
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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    I am familiar with Hayes, but I would argue that the most important NP photographer was Carleton Watkins, because his photographs were instrumental in establishing Yosemite as a park, paving the way for Yellowstone and other national parks. By contrast (and unlike WH Jackson) Hayes became the official photographer of Yellowstone *after* it became a national park. In some art circles Carleton Watkins is the only nature landscape photographer who matters, as others, including Ansel Adams are considered derivative. See for instance http://100photos.time.com

    To the best of my knowledge, the books by Haynes are about Yellowstone, and therefore not what I am looking for. I think the National Parks Portfolio was the first photo book about the national parks.

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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    Although not a photographic essay, the first book about the National Parks is probably Out National Parks by John Muir, 1901. Free download here:
    https://archive.org/details/nationalparksour00muirrich After thaat was published, it was probably Ansel Adams who popularized wilderness photography and hence photography of the NP's. with Banner Peak and Thousand Island Lake, Sunset, Sierra Nevada, California, 1923: http://shop.anseladams.com/Banner_Pe..._p/1901012.htm Of course Carleton Watkins was among the first, but the best, NP photographer of his time.

    Thomas

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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    Not exactly in your "missing years" gap, but "American Photographers and the National Parks," Robert Cahn & Robert Glenn Ketchum, Viking Press 1981. Includes essays by Chan and Ketchum which you might find interesting and applicable.

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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    Maybe too recent for your interests: "National Parks" a Readers Digest book of 1993. Picture credits are at the back. I acquired it in a stash of older photo books.

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    Re: Old national parks photography books

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Lewin View Post
    Not exactly in your "missing years" gap, but "American Photographers and the National Parks," Robert Cahn & Robert Glenn Ketchum, Viking Press 1981. Includes essays by Chan and Ketchum which you might find interesting and applicable.
    It's a good book with a great selection of images, but also a strong curatorial bias. Aperture's "Picturing America's National Parks" (2016) gives a more complete picture of the history of photography in the parks.

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