This month is particularly biased on history, from personal histories of less known observers’ world views, to histories of some of the political royalties of last century. This review wraps up with two self-proclaimed time-saving guides that will keep you au-fait with the latest technologies available to today’s amateur photographer.

syndetics-lcVivian Maier out of the shadows 
After spending her life in the shadows of anonymity, her body of work reaching over one hundred thousand pictures, remaining in locked cabinets, garages and basements, Vivian was luckily discovered after her death and finally her photographs were brought to the light they deserve. As one of her former employers remembers, although she was marvellous with the children, “she wasn’t interested in being a nanny at all. She really wanted to be out on the street. She wanted to be taking pictures”. She worked to support her art. This book combines a powerful selection of her work, in a compact square format that reflects her choice of medium format cameras, mainly a Rolleiflex, with compelling stories from those who met her, acting as a posthumous memoir of this discreet human being.  
Mary Ellen Mark, herself revered for the humanity of her documentary photography says of Vivian Maier ”She was a humanist in the best tradition. She showed real life. And that’s so difficult to do.” A resounding accolade no less.

indexCADLIFPSFrom Prague to Auckland
“Published on the occasion of the exhibition From Prague to Auckland: the photography of Frank Hofmann (1916-1989) curated by Leonard Bell at the Gus Fisher Gallery, The University of Auckland, New Zealand, 26 August – 29 October 2011”–Colophon.(courtesy of Syndetics)

syndetics-lcHer Majesty
“The extraordinary public and private life of the world’s most famous monarch –
In honor of theQueen’s Diamond Jubilee—60 years on the throne—TASCHEN celebrates the extraordinary private and public life of Her Majesty. Born in 1926, married in 1947, crowned as Queen in 1953,for over six decades she has steadfastly and loyally carried out her duty on behalf of her country, never speaking out of turn or putting a foot wrong. The book tells her remarkable royal story through hundreds of stunning photographs, many previously unseen and sourced from multiple archives in the United Kingdom (including the Royal Collection), Continental Europe, and the United States.These images have it all: history, politics, glamour, fashion, culture, travel, and, of course, hats.
As the Queen, she has endlessly traveled the globe, been introduced to every leading icon of the 20th century, including the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK, attended thousands of receptions and state functions; while concurrently being a mother to four children under the constant glare of public scrutiny.These photographs cover every aspect of her reign: the early years, coming of age during World War II, becoming a wife, Queen and mother, the Royal Tours, the palaces, the crowds, the weddings, the Royal Family, the Silver Jubilee in 1977, and the later years. God save her indeed!
Photographers included:Cecil Beaton, Studio Lisa, Dorothy Wilding, Karsh, Lord Snowdon, Patrick Lichfield, as well as more contemporary work from the likes ofWolfgang Tillmans, Rankin, Annie Leibovitz,and many others.” (Syndetics summary)

syndetics-lcTwilight of the Romanovs – A Photographic Odyssey Across Imperial Russia
“Twilight of the Romanovs opens a door into the world of pre-revolutionary Russia using original photographs taken during the last decades of Romanov rule. They include remarkable colour images created using an early three-colour-plate technique that brings the remote past to life. Our companions on this journey include the Scottish photographer William Carrick, Americans George Kennan and Murray Howe, the German-Russian Carl Bulla, Sergey Produkin-Gorsky, and the writers Leonid Andreyev and Anton Chekhov, together with many anonymous others.
These photographs are snapshots of a vanished world, yet they reveal a surprising continuity: despite the subsequent revolution, faces, buildings, and landscapes still resonate with those who see them a century and more later.” (From publisher)

syndetics-lc The Kennedys
“This publication is the definitive collection of Mark Shaw’s renowned photographs of the Kennedys. Photographys includ Kennedy’s favourite ever shot of himself, walking alone on the dunes at Hyannis Port, plus images on the campaign trail, relaxing at home with friends, entertaining at the White House, and the sombre days immediately following JFK’s assassination.” (Syndetics summary)
A personal favourite in this collection is the photograph of John and Jackie shot in November 1963, shortly before the fateful day. It struck a chord with Jackie herself whose letter to Shaw thanking him for the artful accompanies the print. “John looks like a Caravaggio — and, the one of John, reflected in the table, like some wonderful, strange, poetic Matisse.”

syndetics-lcThe Photoshop Elements 11
“This book (for Windows and Mac) breaks new ground by doing something for digital photographers that’s never been done before–it cuts through the bull and shows exactly “how to do it.” It’s not a bunch of theory; it doesn’t challenge readers to come up with their own settings or figure things out on their own. Instead, it tells readers flat-out which settings to use, when to use them, and why. This book gives the inside tips and tricks of the trade for organizing, correcting, editing, sharpening, retouching, and presenting photos like a pro. Readers will be absolutely amazed at how easy and effective these techniques are–once they know the secrets. “(From publisher)

syndetics-lcThe Quick Expert’s Guide to Mobile Phone Photography
“This series offers a shortcut to instant expertise! Quick Expert’s Guides are aimed at teens and ‘tweens who are keen to know more about a popular topic but who may be put off the idea of having to read wordy or technical guides. Each title includes features that break down technical/scientific/complex aspects of the subject, inspirational case studies, activities and a final project to test the reader’s new skills. Chapter round-ups also offer tips on key words and phrases as well as boosting self esteem and confidence, in order to walk the walk and talk the talk of a true expert.” (from Amazon.com)