Many photographers have left their mark and changed the course of history since the first photograph was taken. But in her book, author Darcy Reed wanted to honor the women among them. Extraordinary Women With Cameras – 35 Photographers Who Changed How We See the World is a book that tells a story about the creative, innovative, and fierce women who have left a major trace in the history of photography.
I was honored to review this informative, easy-to-read, and wonderfully illustrated book. And in this article, I bring you more information and some of my impressions about it.
First, some basic information
Darcy Reed teamed up with illustrator Vanessa Perez and publisher Rocky Nook to bring you Extraordinary Women With Cameras. The book has 84 pages, and you can get it as both an eBook and a hardcover, tangible book. On the publisher’s website, you can get a printed version for $16.95, an eBook for $13.99, or a bundle of the two for $26.99. Amazon offers the Kindle book for $11.99 and the hardcover for $15.93.
As stated in the title itself, Extraordinary Women With Camera brings you the stories of 35 of the most talented historical and contemporary female photographers. In fact, there are 12 more at the end of the book if you just can’t stop learning about them! Some of their names may be familiar: Dorothea Lange, Vivian Meier, Annie Leibovitz, Margaret Bourke-White, or Gerda Taro, to name just a few. Some, on the other hand, will be totally new to you. However, all of these women contributed to the fascinating, beautiful field of photography.
The book design is pretty simple, even basic. There’s an illustration of each photographer on one side, along with her quote; and a one-page story about her on the other side. However, don’t let the length of these stories repel you. It’s just enough to give you some basic info and spark your interest to explore each photographer further on your own. You can also learn more about these extraordinary women and see examples of their work on the publisher’s website.
I didn’t really think about being the first woman… I just go for things regardless of the boundaries because I’ve always had to break boundaries. – Ming Smith
Other than the story and Vanessa Perez’s adorable illustrations, the book also offers some photo ideas for you to try. If you’re new to photography, you’ll also find it useful for learning some new photography terms.
I’m a fast reader and this book is pretty short, so I read it in no time. However, the time I spent on my computer later, learning about photographers new to me… Well, that’s a whole different story. Despite short texts, this book lets you learn how each of these women has contributed to photography. And it gives you just the information that will make you want to learn more about them. I think Darcy Reed did a fantastic job here, giving readers just the right type and amount of information to make them interested and intrigued.
If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument. – Eve Arnold
With some photographers, you get an explanation of their genre of photography and what it implies. With the explanation, there usually comes a little challenge to try on your own. For Vivian Meier, for example, you’ll get to read the definition of street photography. And then it’s your turn: the writer challenges you to take street photos. These challenges seem a little silly from where I’m standing. However, I am aware that not everyone has been a photographer for half of their life, and I think these ideas could be useful for newbies.
Who is this book for?
In short, anyone can read this book. Personally, though, I’d recommend Extraordinary Women With Cameras to older kids and teenagers. It could also be good for absolute beginners in photography, regardless of their age. But folks who have already been into photography for ages could benefit from it too. Let me elaborate.
The writing style is informal, playful, and simple, which makes the book easy to read. As I mentioned, there is not much text, and the challenges are simple and manageable. The illustrations are cute and remind me of those you can see in many modern children’s books. All of this is why I believe kids and teenagers should read it, above all. I see it as a great gift for empowering a young girl in your life who aspires to be a photographer someday. Or even if she doesn’t, this book might spark her interest in photography.
Extraordinary Women with Cameras could also be great for people of all ages who are just starting photography or even only considering it. They could benefit from the simple challenges they’ll get throughout the book, but also from learning about these fantastic women. Looking up their photos online will give the reader tons of inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration – this is why I personally liked this book the most. I’m not a kid, a teenager; or a beginner. I know a lot about photography already, and I’m familiar with the work of some famous women photographers. However, this book helped me discover photographers new to me. Although short, the descriptions of their lives and works made me look them up online shortly after lunch… And the next thing I knew, it was already time for bed. :) Joke aside, the book sparked my interest and curiosity to look up these women online. I learned a lot about their fascinating lives and got inspired by their splendid work.
When you do not like human beings, you cannot make good portraits. – Gisèle Freund
The bottom line
All things considered, I’d say this book is worth having in your collection regardless of gender, age, or level of photographic skill. If you’re an adult and already do photography, you’ll probably want to look up some more information online. But regardless, Extraordinary Women With Cameras is still a great source of inspiration for you – and especially, perhaps, for your children who want to be just like you when they grow up.