Photography Review 

 
A Portrait of Southern Writers
Photographs by Curt Richter
Foreword by Robert Coles, Afterword by Ann Beattie
Hill Street Press, 2000
ISBN: 1-892514-83-4  

 

The cover of A Portrait of Southern Writers offers images of Alice Walker, former President Jimmy Carter, Ishmael Reed and Mary Hood.  It is a beautiful table book with a gallery style layout sure to become a family heirloom.   

Curt Richter was commissioned by Louis D. Rubin Jr. to photograph the founding members of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.  The first author to sit for him was Eudora Welty and the last was Alice Walker.  The project took seven years to complete and during that period Richter photographed two hundred writers associated with the South.  One hundred of those images were selected for A Portrait of Southern Writers.         

The exquisite photography in black and white with perhaps a touch of sepia in some, is a cherished history of authors we have lost, such as, Robert Penn Warren, James Dickey, Willie Morris, and Walker Percy.  Richter captures the extremes, from dignity of Kaye Gibbons to tattooed Tim McLaurin holding a snake. 

The album of contemporary southern writers captures the mood of inspiration and charm of each literary star.  To name a few of the authors captured in the cameraís eye: Andrew Lytle, William Styron, Pat Conroy, Rita Mae Brown, Bailey White, Shelby Foote, Lee Smith, Bobbie Ann Mason, Tina McElroy Ansa and Harry Crews.  Thatís just ten of the one hundred southern voices presented. 

In the preface, Richter describes the journey the project took him on through the South as he met each author and captured the essence of the writerís vision.  Richterís self-portrait is taken in his rear view mirror with a pair of stuffed dice hanging down as the road ahead is blurred in the background.  Perhaps it was taken on his favorite stretch of highway 319 between Tifton, Georgia and Tallahassee, Florida. 

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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