New Mexico: Then & Now
The grand sugar daddy of photography books this season is William Stone's extraordinary New Mexico: Then & Now. Stone's tome has been getting truckloads of well-deserved press over the last couple of months.
The main thrill here is the book's guiding concept. Stone was inspired by a similar book pairing historical and contemporary photographs of places in Colorado. He culled various historical photographs from history and art museums, universities, libraries, historical societies, federal agencies and individuals. He found an especially broad and high quality collection at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe.
Stone tried to get his hands on the oldest images he could find. Once he had amassed a great collection, he traveled to every obscure corner of the state, visiting the sites captured in the photographs and taking a matching photograph from the exact same vantage.
The result is a truly spectacular examination of New Mexico as it has changed (or in some cases, not changed at all) over time. From images of the University of New Mexico to the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral in Santa Fe to the Trinity Site to the Carlsbad Caverns to the courthouse way down in Deming, Stone's book is an incredible document.
The paired pictures are fantastic, but just as appealing are the lengthy captions beneath the images. These captions describe just enough history to provide context without stealing any glory from the photographs.
New Mexico: Then & Now is divided into seven portfolios covering seven different regions of the state, making it easy, for example, to turn immediately to the photo pairings of Albuquerque and its immediate vicinity if that's where your main interest lies. In short, this is one of the best books about New Mexico I've seen in a while.