America Through The Lens: Photographers Who Changed the Nation, by Martin W. Sandler

My Copy: 9780805073676 (image from

I remember getting this book from a museum photography workshop, and it’s been on my shelf since. Part biographical collection, part history of photography, America Through the Lens is a great introduction to the American fascination–and need–for visual images.

It’s not comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination, and definitely not too technical. The chapters are divided by the famous (and not so famous) photographers in chronological order. From Mathew B. Brady, to Jacob Riis, to Toni Frissell and NASA/NOAA, the photos and methods are varied.

America Through The Lens is a great introduction to how photo technology changed and how certain photographs changed policy, laws, and opinions in this country. Many of the photos I’d never seen before, and several of the photographers I’d never heard of, but I can see their influence and why they’re so good.

I wouldn’t mind getting prints of some of the photos here, even the portraits.

My only gripe is that I’m sure some of these photos were initially in color, and it would be great to see them as such (especially the later NASA & NOAA photos.)

I recommend this for young history enthusiasts and middle schoolers in history or journalism classes, so if you know any young history or photo nuts, well, you got one you can check out.

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