Visions of America addresses a single question: How do you photograph democracy? After all, democracy is an “idea,” and not something one can easily wrap one’s lens around. But photographing democracy is indeed what Joseph Sohm has done in this epic journey across the fifty states. To capture this country’s incredible diversity, Sohm framed his national work as George Seurat might a pointillist painting. With each photograph, an individual dot was applied to his American canvas. Spanning three decades, tens of thousands of images were assembled in what becomes a compelling mosaic. With a foreword by legendary travel writer, Paul Theroux, Visions of America is a work of historic value and significance.
I receive books for review every week, and yet no book has ever caused as much excitement in every member of the family as Joseph Sohm’s Visions of America has. From my husband, Kevin, down to my youngest child, Josiah (who is 7), we have all been paging through this book and drinking in the gorgeous photographs of our country. The economy, the politics as usual, the war that goes on and on and on – all of these things could make me become cynical and bitter and apathetic about this country we live in. But as I have looked at these photos and read the thoughts behind them, I can’t help but feel a swell of patriotism. I know, I know – that sounds cheesy, but it’s how this book makes me feel – makes my whole family feel.
Visions of America is premised on a single question – “how do you photograph Democracy?” (After all, it’s an idea!) My answer unfolds over 1300 images and 21 essays that catapult you on an unforgettable journey across the fifty states.
This book is Sohm’s labor of love, encompassing thirty years of his life’s work. Sohm also wrote A Photo Symphony Concert for America , with an original score composed by Grammy-award winner Roger Kellaway, and narration read by Clint Eastwood.
The photos in this post are just a minuscule sample of the amazing artwork in this book. First of all, the book is absolutely huge – and it is completely full of photographs. If you want to see more examples, and watch videos from the symphonic multi-media production, head over to the Visions of America website.
As a homeschooling mother, this is the kind of book I want in our home library. I envision many hours of perusing the pages of this book and discussing the images it contains. I am so grateful to Lisa Rose at Online Publicist for connecting me with this review copy.
About the author: Joseph Sohm is an American history teacher turned photo-historian. Over 30 years, he has traveled the fifty states and across the world, photographing people, celebrations, monuments, sports, cities, small towns and presidential campaigns. His photos have been published more than 50,000 times in such publications as National Geographic, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and in hundreds of textbooks, as well as on media including CNN, ABC, The History Channel and MSNBC.