One of the pictures in The New York Times Magazine Photographs (Aperture, $75) is a shot by Reza that shows two women in a refugee camp studying pictures on makeshift stands as they try to identify the children they are looking for. This is only one example of the powerful, poignant images included in this vast collection. Compiled by Kathy Ryan, the Magazine’s photography director, this album represents work by all the great photographers, including Friedlander, Close, Leibovitz, LaChappelle, Sidbe and many others. What makes this volume unique, however, are the commentaries adjoining the images, offering the photographers’ thoughts on their work. One of my favorite pictures is a portrait of Orson Welles, about which Michael O’Neill writes that Welles “loved my camera—I was using a gigantic Deardorff—and he decided that he had to direct me and tell me where to put the light.” Photographs is an amazing collection.
Frequently on assignment for Vanity Fair in the past few years, Annie Leibovitz has given us some of the most spectacular and theatrical shots of celebrities, royalty, and world-changers ever captured on film. In Pilgrimage (Random House, $50), however, Leibovitz is after a different sort of spectacle, bringing her eye for personality and detail to the sites where literary and cultural creators did their work. The subjects of these photographs range from Louisa May Alcott’s writing desk to the tumult of Niagara Falls. While many of these places are familiar, Leibovitz has captured them in ways that renew their relevance.
Truth in advertising: I grew up in Berkeley and, from Chez Panisse’s beginnings in 1971, my parents were great fans—and great friends—of Alice Waters and her restaurant. My mother, a food writer and critic in the Bay Area, spent every Bastille Day in the Chez Panisse kitchen peeling garlic for the restaurant’s annual July 14th celebration. When my mother died in 2006, Alice touchingly invited my dad to dine at the restaurant any time, even without his wife (he had celebrated many birthdays at Chez P, and on each occasion the menu mysteriously included his two favorite items: duck for the main course, and a lemon tart for dessert). Over the years, Alice has used her Chez Panisse Foundation to champion the Edible Schoolyard and other efforts to bring healthy, sustainable food to communities across the country. Indeed, the restaurant’s 40th anniversary celebrations last August raised funds for these projects. This beautiful book, Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering (Clarkson Potter, $55) by Alice Waters and Friends, which includes a foreword by Calvin Trillin and an afterword by Michael Pollan, tells the story of Chez Panisse through photos, recollections, and the iconic posters that artist David Lance Goines made for the restaurant over many years. More than a collector’s item, this is a lively celebration of Chez Panisse and its revolutionary role in making local, seasonal, and sustainable food a building block of community—and gathering—across our country.