Family Edited by Sophie Spencer-Wood, with a preface by Henri Peretz and notes of the photographs by Margaret Walters

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Drawing from the very same impulses that compel us all to capture on film the members of our family, this book brings to light the entirely unique response that photographers have through their work towards their own families, and the significance of this work in the broader context of their photographic work.

Family is an intimate compilation of almost 200 photographs taken by a wide range of photographers, that reflects consciously on the emotions and experiences wrought and woven into the family unit. It includes the work of established photographers such as Sally Mann and David Bailey, as well as rarely seen images from the families of iconic figures such as like Dorothea Lange. It presents the work of some of the earliest photographers to focus on the subject of family, alongside that of photographers taking pictures of their family in the twenty-first century.

This book is far more than a sociological exploration of how the concept of the family has evolved with the passage of time: it signifies a timeless curiosity about the notion of the family, as well as the strongly personal element of autobiography that feeds this intrigue. Family embodies an extensive reflection on the diversity of meanings behind our own family photographs and pays homage to the long-standing relationship between family and photography. The typically private and introvert sphere of familial relationships is revealed to us through this compilation of photographs, through whose vision we are reminded of the underlying energies that drive our most intimate and personal emotional ties.

The book is organized neither chronologically nor by theme and chapter; rather, many of the ideas and themes we associate with family photographs are discernible through sequenced stories and the juxtaposition of individual images. Each selection of photographs is consolidated by a succinct commentary at the end of the book. Thought-provoking, intensely evocative and softly poignant, Family is both sensitive and stigmatizing.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Size: 250 x 189 mm (9 7/8 x 7 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 208 pp
  • ISBN: 9780714844022

Henri Peretz is a sociologist and writer and is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Paris VIII. He is the author of Les m├ęthodes en sociologie: L'observation (1998), contributing writer to The Table of Power by photographer Jacqueline Hassink (1996) and to the exhibition and book Magnum Landscape, published by Phaidon.

Sophie Spencer-Wood is a picture editor and researcher. She has worked with, among others, Colin Jacobson on Reportage magazine, among others, and as assistant to Bruce Bernard on Phaidon's award-winning book, Century. Her other books include Gandhi and Freedom: An African American Struggle, also published by Phaidon.

Margaret Walters is a critic, writer and broadcaster. She has written extensively on the visual arts and culture, and has broadcast frequently on the BBC. Her book The Male Nude: A New Perspective was published to much critical acclaim. She currently reviews novels for The Sunday Times.

"Family acknowledges the impulse in these photographers as in everyone else: to take photographs that capture those we love, that preserve them in memory; and here there is no difference between an amateur and a professional photographer."—Daily Telegraph

"Family is packed with interesting examples... of work that combines professional distance with the intimate tenderness of the everyday."—Independent

"In these pages photography is an instrument not just of observation and commentary but of emotional truth. These images tell us, certainly, about their subject and something of the person behind the lens, but they tell us, too, about ourselves: how we feel about our parents, how we as parents feel about our children, what we think of the rooms we live in, the people we share them with, the ways we occupy ourselves, the places from which we came. They tell us what it is like to love, to be shaped by our families and to shape them. They tell us what is like to be alive."—Sunday Telegraph

"What if you're a professional photographer, what if every time you lifted a camera you carefully considered light, context, the clever angle made by a child's toy? Would your family snaps then have the same pathos as mine? This lovely book answers that with a resounding yes."—Antiques Magazine

"Revealing."—Dazed & Confused

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