cover image Picturing Joy

Picturing Joy

George Lange. Flashpoint, $25.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-959-41135-2

In this vibrant collection, photographer Lange (The Unforgettable Photograph) chronicles a career spent capturing the “joy at the center of my life.” His attempts to pin down the emotion included overtly silly shots of celebrities, actors, and artists, among them “Cake Boss” Buddy Velastro refusing to crack a smile as flour from a sifter rains down on him; Warren Buffett and Jimmy Buffett dressed up as one another, the latter giving the camera a playful smirk; and a jubilant Yo-Yo Ma lounging on a sofa, laughing, with cello bow in hand. But the standouts rest on a quieter intimacy between photographer and subject: a gently backlit shot of Anita Hill in 1992, a year after the Clarence Thomas hearings, for example, reveals a pensive strength (“After being portrayed... so one-dimensionally” by the media, “I needed to show her beauty and dignity,” Lange explains). Images are enriched by the author’s discussions of his artistic process, and for some shots, by perspective afforded by time—alongside a carefree photo of Kate Spade painting her toenails bubblegum pink, Lange muses of her 2018 suicide, “Am I blind to the dark side?... But in every life, even lives with incredible sadness, there is also joy.” This one’s sure to tug on readers’ heartstrings. Photos. (Nov.)