Janice’s Review Blog

Archive for July 2009

Book describes "Annie Leibovitz at Work."

Book describes "Annie Leibovitz at Work."

On a recent visit to the library, I picked up Annie Leibovitz’s book “Annie Leibovitz at Work.”   In 2000, I was fortunate enough to see her Phoenix Art Museum Exhibit, “Annie Leibovitz: Women.”  As I looked at those photos I wondered about the who, what, where, when, why and how of them.  I guess the journalist in me was already alive and well.

This book answers all of those questions  as Leibovitz breaks her work into short sketches detailing the assignments that led to the photo opportunity.  Her more than 100 photos include a Vanity Fair cover of a pregnant, naked Demi Moore, the last photo of John Lennon embracing Yoko Ono on Dec. 8 1980 a few hours before his murder and photos of Queen Elizabeth II.  She explains that Whoopi Goldberg lounged in a tub of heated milk for her photo opportunity, and she shares the photo of Keith Haring standing naked but camouflaged in a room he painted before painting himself to match.

“”I have learned how to organize and direct large groups,” wrote Leibovitz, “but I would always rather photograph an individual.  No group picture is going to have the power of an individual protrait.”

Leibovitz lists the equipment that she used throughout her career and changes in equipment over the years.  The book contains a timeline of her life listing over 40 years devoted to photography, a publishing history with thumbnail photos and descriptions and her answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions.

“The orginal tripod is my two legs,” wrote Leibovitz.  “Being able to move, to go up and down, is an important part of my work.”

For any photographer who wants to learn the secrets of a master photographer or for anyone just curious about the thought that goes into a photo shoot, this book contains the answers.

Robert Stieve, editor at Arizona Highways magazine, uses Twitter to update his followers of events involving the magazine.  Recently he posted the following Tweet at azhighways: Gary Ladd, one of our premier photographers, will be giving a lecture tonight at Glendale Public Library, 7 p.m. Details: 928-779-2195.8:27 AM Jul 16th from web.

Foothills Branch Library in Glendale, Ariz. puts on a number of great, free lectures.  The Grand Canyon Association co-sponsored this Canyon Country Community Lecture Series.  By 7 p.m., the Roadrunner Room at Foothills Branch Library was filled to almost overflowing with people anxious to see the photos of Gary Ladd and hear his lecture.  Some smart alecks up front snickered when they saw Gary Ladd take slide carousels from a metal box, but they took back their snide remarks about slides versus digital photos when they saw the images on the screen.

Gary Ladd explained that he shot photographs of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and the Vermilion Cliffs for this lecture series.  He shared his experiences during the slide show and laced the commentary with a good dose of humor.  His photos reflect not only the beauty of the landscape, but also the photographic talent he possesses.

Ladd used a large format camera to take his images.  On hikes he said his pack weighed at least 70 pounds when filled with his equipment and all of his other provisions.  A few month ago, Ladd says he stopped taking slides and switched to a digital camera.

Ladd shares and documents on film hair-raising hikes over terrain where he says he had to turn off his internal alarm system to complete the hike.  Photos show river rafting and camping on the Colorado River as well as leisurely houseboating on Lake Powell.  Many colorful characters invited Ladd to accompany them on hikes to isolated destinations.

The audience took in every photo and every word during the evening, and Ladd answered questions at the end of the presentation.  No one hurried to leave the presentation and some remained to buy one of his books and get it autographed.

The following YouTube shows Gary Ladd’s Canyon Experience as he presented it in December 2008 at the Flagstaff Cline Library.  The YouTube shows Ladd’s wit and wisdom during the lecture, but in no way does it duplicate the beauty of his photos, which need to be seen in person. 


"Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself" written by Alan Alda.

"Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself" written by Alan Alda.

The title of this book alone made me want to pick it up and read it, but when I discovered that Alan Alda of “Hawkeye Pierce” fame wrote the book, I knew I needed to read “Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.”

The book begins with Alda’s life-or-death experience in Chile, and how the fates put all of the right people at the right places so he lives to tell another silly story or maybe not so silly.  He even got to impress the surgeon who performed the life-saving surgery by naming the surgical procedure before the doctor told him what it was.  The writing doesn’t do justice to the story as told in person by Alda.

Alda talks about values and how he shares his values in the way he lives his life and in the types of work he chooses to pursue.  He also shares his values and the important things he’s learned in life by performing public speaking engagements at universities and organizations.

After 9/11, Alda talks of people’s desire to help and how the flag became important to all of us.  He went to ground zero to talk to workers and vividly describes the situation as his group comes upon the scene.

“Work lights illuminated the scene almost as if it were daylight,” he writes.  “Steel shard reached many stories high, piercing the black sky.”

Alda shakes hands with workers and volunteers, listens to their stories and asks what they need.  One mentions how much they enjoyed candy bars someone brought them.  Johnnie, one of the workers, describes how people came from everywhere to help.  He points out that race and religion don’t matter, but everyone works together as one country, and he hopes it continues.  Alda promises to pass this sentiment on whenever possible, and he makes sure the Hershey factory sends a truck load of Hershey bars to the site.

The book relates more of Alda’s stories-some happy, some sad, all meant to show the values he treasures in his life and how he came by them.  Alda proves to be not only a talented actor and writer, but also a man of character.

"Mothering Mother" reveals aspects of caregiving.

"Mothering Mother" reveals aspects of caregiving.

Carol D. O’Dell writes a compellingly honest memoir, “Mothering Mother,” about caring for her adoptive mother, Noveline DeVault.  She uses humor and love and breaks sections into bite-sized pieces so unlike her, readers can walk away when things get to tough to handle.  Her method of sharing the ups and downs of caring for an elder parent stricken with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s highlights what caregivers might expect if they choose to keep their relative with them through their illnesses and how they can cope with situations.

The book shows how O’Dell’s family works together to provide the support and care for O’Dell and DeVault.  O’Dell and her family sacrifice time together, but O’Dell sticks with her commitment to keep her mother out of a nursing home even when the youngest of her three daughters becomes very ill, and O’Dell blames herself for not catching the signs of illness earlier.  O’Dell’s husband builds an apartment onto their new home, so that DeVault feels close to the family, but still has privacy.

O’Dell’s mother shows her cantankerous side when she insists on doing things her way or she speaks her mind sometimes embarrassing O’Dell with her tactless honesty.  She finds ways to get attention even in the middle of the night when she makes enough noise to wake the entire house.  She also uses the telephone to call everyone at any hour.  Sometimes she refuses to eat, but her favorite food is Klondike bars.

O’Dell tackles every problem that comes along, some with more patience and grace than others.  She heads for the nearby river when things get too unbearable, but she always returns and takes control.  She voices her opionion on doctors, nurses and hospice care and how sometimes they do more harm than good by upsetting her established routine.  She laments the lack of qualified help and gives thanks for those who help and understand.  O’Dell shares all of her feelings about caring for her mother, good and bad, and the final outcome.   

The book contains an Appendix where caregivers and relatives can find referrals and information.   The Appendix includes  associations and groups on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases, aging, home care, nursing homes and other forms of aid.