Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Since we’re all about art and beauty until end of the year, here are two amazing people who have made it their life’s mission to capture beauty from behind the lens: Bill Cunningham and Graciela Iturbide.

Polka Dot Parade: A Book About Bill Cunningham

Written by Deborah Blumenthal Pictures by Masha D’yans
Published by Little Bee Books (2018).
ISBN: 1499806647 (ISBN13: 9781499806649)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

He who seeks beauty will find it.

This is a quote attributed to the man who, astride his bicycle, with a camera around his neck, sought the singular, the intriguing, the unlikely colours in the streets of New York.

He found fashion and captured it with a quick flash, with an unusual angle, with a language that only Bill Cunningham speaks and translates into shadows, colours and shades of reality that people who thirst for beauty can resonate with.

He captured a person’s comfort in one’s body, faith in one’s vision of fabric draped in a certain way, and ease in one’s style that is natural, free, and uninhibited – with little care about what other people would think.

He has earned such a reputation that even famous people wanted him to photograph them. However, he has his own internal compass of what constitutes fashion, beauty, art – and has no qualms politely declining if he didn’t feel like it.

He lived a very modest existence, a tiny apartment in New York without any kitchen or television. He is surrounded only by “dozens of cabinets” which held thousands of beautiful images. If anything, I am now inspired to find his photographs and see beauty through his eyes.

Photographic: The Life Of Graciela Iturbide

Written by Isabel Quintero Illustrated by Zeke Peña
Published by J. Paul Getty Museum (2018) Literary Award: Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction (2018)
ISBN: 1947440004 (ISBN13: 9781947440005)
Borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me.

The first thing that struck me while I was reading this graphic novel was Where has Graciela Iturbide been all my life? 

This is a fantastic memoir of a fierce female who defied societal expectations, transmuted her private pain into something that she can manipulate with her hands, and with the aid of shadows and light, and a whole lot of waiting – beauty would emerge, like something birthed out of a camera lens.

Quintero and Peña did justice to the life of Iturbide by narrating it in a non-linear fashion, with emerging insights leading to another tangent in her story, leading further down into the subterranean workings of her creative mind.

There is also this recurring fascination with birds in flight, dream-like states, and women comfortable in their own skin, smell, weight, and solid place rooted in the earth, as Mother Spirit Of All Things Breathing.

While a lot of Mexican artists, novelists, creators are classified as surrealists, Iturbide herself rejects the term. As noted in the Afterword:

I don’t like it when they refer to my work as being magical – it makes me furious. It would interest me more, and I don’t know if I ever will get there, if my work had some poetic qualities.

Among all the photographs taken by Iturbide herself, included in this memoir, this is the one that I find to be the most visually arresting.

Find this book. You may not look at your camera the same way again.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: US | Mexico

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3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Capturing Beauty From Behind The Lens

  1. We are on the same page, Myra. I shared Photographic on Monday & am sharing Polka Dot Parade today. You’ve done more than I did, but I enjoyed each one & now your review very much. Thanks!


  2. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Round Up of My Literary Journey and My Best in Books Across Quarterly Reading Themes – Gathering Books

  3. Pingback: [Nonfiction Wednesday] Reinventing One’s Self Through A Camera Lens – Gathering Books

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