A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks
By Q T Luong (Forward by Dayton Duncan)
Illustrated. 456 pp. Cameron + Company
This new book by Q T Luong, a photographer featured in Ken Burns’s series, The National Parks, is a glorious birthday present to help us celebrate our park system’s centennial year.
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Back in 2009, I (like many others) was completely swept away by Ken Burns’ magisterial series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. There were so many admirable parts of the series, but two things in particular have stayed with me.
First I was how it humanized the parks—it wasn’t just a 12-hour collection of gorgeous images, but a study in how we’ve thought about, and even fought about the parks. Along the way, it focused attention on the long and distinguished line of thinkers, writers, and photographers who have helped us understand these natural treasures and what they mean to us, such as John Muir, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, or Ansel Adams. The series brought us face to face with these luminaries, giving us a chance to get to know our National Parks through their works.
The other point that resonated with me was how skillfully the series told the story of ordinary (and not so ordinary) people who were completely transformed by their experiences in the parks. People like Stephen Mather, or even Teddy Roosevelt himself, wandered into these natural wonderlands at some critical point of their lives… and never really left. In seeing these transformations, we were transformed ourselves.
Toward the end of the program we were introduced to a person who embodied both these ideas: photographer Q T Luong. Mr. Luong was a relative newcomer, someone who was first drawn to the parks in the early 1990s; but once he experienced them, he too was hooked. More than that, he was moved to capture the essence of the National Parks and share them with a larger audience… to transform how we saw them. Inspired by the long tradition of American landscape photography, he decided to embark on an unprecedented, multi-year project to photograph all the national parks with a large-format camera.
Now, some years later, the project is complete… just in time for the National Parks’ 100th birthday. Mr. Luong has gathered the collected photos into a new book, Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, due to come out October 1. And in a word, this book is spectacular. Continue reading