Picks and Pans Review: Pictures Under Discussion

updated 04/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John Loengard

It's no accident that there's a hand on the cover of this book of splendid black-and-white photographs. Says Loengard, a photographer and picture editor of LIFE magazine: "Hands photograph well because they are what they are. We don't put them on diets.... Like feet, they lose their baby fat and take on character early." The hand on the cover holding a polished black stone is that of the late artist Georgia O'Keeffe. The first picture inside is of a cowboy's split-nail fingers with a rope. This book of more than 80 of Loengard's photographs grew out of lectures that he gave while teaching at New York's New School. Each photograph is faced by comments that are interesting, revealing, lively, to the point and occasionally inspiring. Loengard went to work for LIFE in 1956, when he was 21 years old and just out of Harvard. Many of his most arresting images are those with the sharply in-focus subject arranged off center against a background that provides details worth studying again and again. Some of the most appealing pictures are of children, Loengard's own and others. He writes, "I take children's faces seriously." The result is that the children in his pictures (often taken from a low angle) have a dignity and uncommon beauty. Few photographers are as articulate about their craft as Loengard. His Pictures Under Discussion would be especially treasured by any young person who is thinking about a career in photography. (Amphoto, $29.95; paper, $19.95)

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