Thursday, November 5, 2009

Picture This. . . TVA

TVA Photography: Thirty Years of Life in the Tennessee Valley by Patricia Bernard Ezzell (779.9333914 EZZ Main)
Reviewed by Jeanne

I am fascinated by old photographs. I enjoy seeing these little slices of life from bygone days, wondering exactly what the people were thinking at the time or what became of them, noticing details of everyday life that now seem quaint or exotic. For me, too, there’s something about black and white photos (and movies, for that matter) that commands my attention in a way that color pictures never do.

Author Ezzell provides a very good description of the history of the TVA in her introduction, including information about the men who were charged with documenting the changes being wrought by the coming of dams and electricity to largely rural areas. The heart of the book, though, are the wonderful black and white photos depicting people at work and at play, of crowds gathered for events, or bare, dusty streets. One of my favorites was taken in Blount County, Tennessee: a group of children gathered around an old pickup that serves as a bookmobile. Another favorite depicts a family enjoying the benefits of electricity: the parents are determinedly ignoring the photographer, intent on tasks made possible by light from the electric lamp while their daughter stares directly at the camera, smiling sweetly. I could go on and on about these, but I’ll stop so that you can appreciate them for yourself.

I wonder if Melon would look good in black and white. I think I still have a roll of b & w film. . . .

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