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Eight Girls Taking Pictures by Whitney Otto

Eight Girls Taking Pictures

by Whitney Otto

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Short sketches of women photographers from early 1917 through mid-80's. Fictional depiction based on real photographers. Each vignette is fascinating on it's own and the later ones have some of the first photographers woven in as the years pass - revealing some later years.
Very "artsy" and indeed, much focus on the photography,as well as the locales and the society of the years depicted. I enjoyed the book and of course, now there are references to books about the lives of the actual female photographers that will have to be added to my "LIST" !!!! ( )
  CasaBooks | Mar 14, 2014 |
Otto, author of "How to Make an American Quilt," presents eight fictionalized portraits of female photographers spanning the majority of the 20th century. Successfully exploring the challenges that women artists have faced throughout the recent past, this is an accessible work of fiction that is sure to be popular with bookclubs. The author includes a bibliography for those readers interested in learning more about the real lives and work of the women fictionalized in the novel.

Major Appeals: Character; Story

Further reading suggestions: A Short History of Women - Kate Walbert; A History of Women Photographers - Naomi Rosenblum ( )
  nwreader14 | Jan 21, 2014 |
Eight Girls Taking Pictures

This was an interesting book for me. One because I am a professional portrait photographer, and 2 because I am also a woman.
I, did not lead an adventurous life or really break any new ground like each of these women did.
When I began my career in 1978, I was only one of a hand full for girls in my college for photography. The guys in my classes did not seem to mind or think it was weird for us to be taking photography and when I started looking for a job I found many professionals were excited to have the female perspective in their studios. I love to read about history now but then I really did not care about the beginnings of photography and was not familiar with what was done before the 70’s. I am also fairly conservative so most of the work these women were doing would not have interested me at the time. I have since became a digital scrap booker and also enjoy mixed media and really like playing digitally with my images much like some of these women did in the darkroom which now fascinates me how they made their photomontages.
There were many times when Mrs. Otto just blew me away with her understanding of the artist/photographers mind. I underlined many places throughout the book that inspired me. One of the most profound insights she put in her book was “Women seem to possess all the natural gifts essential to a good portraitist...such as personality, patience and intuition. The sitter ought to be the predominating factor in a successful portrait. I just screamed “YES” and was stunned a non-portrait photographer should grasp such insight. And then this one “if your interesting snapshot is an accident, you aren’t controlling the outcome as much as something simply caught your eye and, snap, snap, there you are. But, when you learn about light, you learn that light is everything. We photographers are lashed to light and time, and we must make the most of both. Wow, she really showed me she knows her stuff with that quote. I also learned something about myself by reading this book. As a mother I often felt I failed my girls because I was often short tempered with them. I felt selfish and never really understood why I should resent giving them my undivided attention after work until I read this quote, “What no one tells you about having children is that it isn’t the physical demand they make in your life that affects your art, it’s the emotional space they fill, crowding out your art. So even when you have the time to work, your still mentally occupied. Wow what a revelation for me and I still feel irritated when I cannot spend uninterrupted time with my creating. One more important quote for me was, “Art required solitude, a disengaged mind, free to sort through the inconsequential and the profound, sifting through the mess in the mind until it found what it sought.”

Some of the women’s stories were a bit racy compared to my simple Midwestern upbringing so some may find the book objectionable but I have to give it 5 stars because I related so much to each woman as an artist, woman and mother. I learned more about the history of my profession and the history of the world. I spent a lot of nights looking things up on the internet which is always worth 2 extra stars if a book inspires me to dig deeper. If you are artistic and a woman I think you will find by the end of this book you have been inspired and enlightened. ( )
  theeccentriclady | Oct 5, 2013 |
There were aspects of the book I enjoyed, but for the most part I found myself to be disconnected from this book and hard to concentrate on it. I also felt that it didn't come together well for a "novel" and it only mildly worked as a collection of connected stories.

One thing that I think put me off the book was I wasn't sure how to classify it. It's seems to be considered a novel, but it is presented and reads like a collection of interconnected short stories, but even then that didn't always work. So I was constantly at a bit of a conflict when reading the book. With that being said, each section, chapter, story, or however you look at, as an individual was well done. The author did a great job at creating some well developed and fleshed out characters. While each section was rather short, they all read like a full story was created and having such a short time with each woman, I always felt that there story was told in full and I appreciated that aspect of the book.

Unfortunately, I never got into the book. While there were some interesting bits in the story, it highlighted a lot of social and political issues of the time, and had well fleshed out characters, I just couldn't get into the book like I wanted.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Eight Girls Taking Pictures ( )
  bookwormjules | Jul 1, 2013 |
I received this book as a Goodreads ARC giveaway. This was a great book and I really enjoy it ( )
  slvoight | Mar 31, 2013 |
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For Joy Harris, Jan Novotny, and Simone Seydoux
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The kitchen smelled like burnt wood and water.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A tale inspired by the lives of famous twentieth-century female photographers traces the progression of feminism and photography in various world regions as each woman explores private and public goals while balancing the demands of family and creativity.… (more)

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