FAMILY: PHOTOGRAPHS BY LAUREN DUKOFF is Substantial

Dear Reader,

Family (june ’09) is beautifully produced; its layout is wonderful. The cover’s purples, greens, and reds are inviting and pleasing. The book’s endpapers seem to be inspired by loosely woven fabrics common in the 70s. The book’s dimensions and weight of paper say “substantial,” and it is.

The photographs are generous in that they fill the pages, exude intimacy, and, because there aren’t any captions, they encourage viewers to see what they may. I’m unqualified to comment on the quality of the photography, however.

Dukoff’s supporting text is integral to readers like me who are unfamiliar with the musician-subjects of her photos. Without it, I would have leafed through the book; recognized clothing, hair, and lifestyles from the 60s and 70s; and told myself I wasn’t seeing anything I hadn’t seen before. (I didn’t partake of these styles, but I was “sort of” there.) The text coaxed me to set aside impressions and learn from her book.

Dukoff’s introduction traces a bit of her background, shares how she became connected to the musicians, and describes what led her to produce this collection of photos. Writings by a few of the featured musical artists—Isabelle Albuquerque, Kevin Barker, Ariana Delawari, Ruthann Friedman, Matteah Baim, Devendra Banhart, and Vashti Bunyan—bring the subjects closer to the reader, and Biographies of all pictured reveals the depth of their experiences and connections. Dukoff’s List of Photographs includes thumbnails of the photos, who’s in them, location, and month and year.

To learn more about the musicians, there’s a link at the end of the book that takes readers to a site to download songs by some musicians in Family. Good idea.

Who will want to buy this book? Lauren Dukoff fans, photography buffs, folk(ish) music fans, Devendra Obi Banhart fans, fans of other featured musicians, people interested in hippy/indy style (for lack of a better word).

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