Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Faces of War: the Untold Story of Edward Steichen's WWII Photographers. by Mark D. Faram. Published by Berkley Caliber, New York, 2009.

Author Mark Faram brings little-known names in navy war photography to the forefront in his 2009 book, Faces of War. His contribution is a significant tribute to their effort. Through this book we are aware of photographers who were Southern Californians and who were selected by Edward Steichen to create a vision for Americans of the battles on the oceans and overseas during World War II. Dwight Long, Max Miller, and Charles Kerlee, originally from California, are among the ten chosen by Steichen (fashion and art photographer already well-known nationally)beginning in 1943.

Faces is an unusal review of the war, told in pictures many times, but the text here is a mix of ship and photographic biography. Because of how Americans then viewed the war in the Pacific, it is as if the images are the history of the naval battles, as far as those who weren't there are concerned, with captions and notes in the text mainly focused on the position and importance of a ship and the ones who filmed it and its crew in action and at rest. There are many portraits in the book as well, of Steichen and his photographers and of admirals and sailors. A particularly interesting introduction, "A Brief History of naval Photography" precedes the main portion of the book. At the end, Faram intimates that he much later studied photography in a course that had been offered since 1963 in photojournalism at Syracuse University, heritage of Steichen's team of photographers then twenty years earlier.

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