Review: CityFiles press photography books bring history to the fore
CityFiles Press is a small Chicago-based publishing house that produces books filled with stunning photographs and compelling text. Since its inception in 2003, co-publishers Michael Williams and Richard Cahan have created 20 books and many of them have a strong Chicago focus. Cahan, former photo editor for the Sun-Times and former director of the CITY 2000 project, and Williams, photographer and designer, have worked together for two decades.
The photography and text of their books explore not only social / political issues, but also the subtle nuances of everyday life. The number of titles they have published is quite a remarkable achievement considering the economic losses suffered by the publishing industry over the years. And despite the economic challenges of running a publishing house in today’s climate, CityFiles Press has remained true to its mission statement of “producing meaningful projects that have emotional and artistic impact.”
Here is a sample of some of the books they offer:
Barack Obama: an unusual grace is their latest publication (released in 2020) and it is the first book they are offering as an eBook. This book gives us an intimate look at Obama’s presidency through the eyes of the seven White House photographers who documented his years in office. The 300 photographs tell the story of Obama’s role as a world leader, touching family scenes with Michelle and her two daughters, as well as numerous photos of the former president being at ease when meeting people. people from different backgrounds. Most of the photos in this book have never been published before. Readers may feel like the book is told by Obama himself because it is filled with his enduring quotes from public speeches as well as his memories.
Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust in South Chicago presents the photography of Michael Abramson during a period in the 1970s when he took photos of the nightclub scene on the south side of Chicago. It captures candid clubbers’ moments at places like Peppers Hideout, Perv’s House, High Chaparral, Patio Lounge, and Showcase Lounge. The text is provided by Patricia Smith, a nationally recognized poet, who grew up not far from these southern clubs. His 80 poems add a vibrant narrative without distracting from the photos.
Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans in World War II provides an in-depth look at when the United States in 1942 rounded up 120,000 residents of Japanese descent living along the West Coast and sent them to internment camps during World War II. The photos of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams and others give us a moving portrait of those imprisoned in these camps. This book uses primary source government documents to explain and place the images in context. Also included are memorabilia from Japanese-American survivors that give the reader an even deeper perspective on this sad chapter in US history.
Vivian Maier: Coming out of the shadows presents the fascinating photos of the ‘nanny photographer’, who became an internet sensation after her photos were first released online in 2009. Images of Maier’s daily life in mid-century America have earned her the recognition from famous art critics and photographers. This book also includes eye-opening interviews with people who knew her to help readers gain a better understanding of Maier’s life.
Aftershock: the human toll of war is a collection of photographs taken in 1945 by a small group of American soldiers, the Army Signal Corps, which filmed the loss and destruction of human life. These soldiers cover combat operations where civilian journalists would not or could not go. This photographic collection provides a rich source of information by showing us the gruesome scenes many soldiers witnessed during the war. Most of the photos in this book have never been seen before and were scanned directly from original negatives.
Chicago: classic photographs is a collection of 225 images taken by the city’s most revered photographers such as Art Shay, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Some photos date back over a century. This book includes snapshots of various neighborhoods as well as downtown Chicago. Some of the photos have a timeless feel while others offer a historical perspective on an ever-changing city.
Their other books include two works on Richard Nickel, the Chicago photographer who fought for the preservation of iconic buildings by architect Louis Sullivan and lost his life in the process.
If you’re looking for dynamic books that offer historical perspective, in-depth research, and striking photographs, check out CityFiles Press. You can purchase these books and their other titles at bookstores, national websites, or directly through CityFiles Press. For more information, visit their website.
Categories: Art & Museums, Bed, Photography, Reviews