But do we see him?
Nicely said, Virginia.

Small town pictorial records, continued.

I really love photography collections, so whenever I wander through my local library's catalog and see a new photography book out, I'll typically request it regardless of its subject matter.

Ely I particularly love photography books about small towns and communities (such as the superlative book The Oxford Project), and Facing North: Portraits of Ely, Minnesota, is no exception. It is filled with black-and-white photographs of (primarily) the small town's residents, and a few short essays about life on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Only 3,700 residents live in the town year round, but the region hosts at least 200,000 visitors each year, which makes for an interesting conjunction of personalities.

Is the book as good as The Oxford Project? Well, no, but then, that's a tough book to beat. This book does include small informative paragraphs about all the subjects in the photographs ("When we showed up to take his picture, he came outside in an old green miner's uniform--something you see a lot of around Ely--toting his oxygen tank"), but the true glory here is the photographs themselves. You'll have to read the introduction to find out about the camera and film used, but it's some kind of special-format camera (and the skill of the photographer) that makes the faces of the people sharp and the other edges in the photographs gently fuzzy. They're beautiful, beautiful photographs, and it's a book well worth looking at.