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On Our Bookshelves — A Wandering Eye — Travels With My Phone

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BOOK: A Wandering Eye — Travels with My Phone

AUTHOR: Miguel Flores-Vianna

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2019

REVIEW:

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I was introduced to Miguel Flores-Vianna and his lovely photography book, A Wandering Eye, last year, thanks to Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems, who had an event celebrating the author, with a book signing, talk, drinks, and rather delicious food, at their lovely shop in Westport, Connecticut.  Mr. Flores-Vianna, an old friend of theirs, is a writer, editor, interior designer, and photographer, and he told the assembled gathering about this book’s beginning.

He’d been taking a work sabbatical and staying in a cottage in the English countryside back in 2012, when he began the habit of taking a picture or two on a Polaroid camera each day, and writing about what he saw in a journal.  When he acquired his first iPhone in 2013, it wasn’t too long before he began taking pictures using its camera feature, and soon transferred his Polaroid habit into an Instagram one.  This utterly gorgeous collection of pictures is the result…a photography book based on six years of cellphone pictures.  (For a few that were too low-quality to be used in this publication, he duplicated the shots with a proper camera.)

But the origin of Flores-Vianna’s photography goes back further than that–he credits his late parents, back in his native Argentina, for his love of travel, books, and photography, and has dedicated this book to their memory.

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If you have a chance to meet the author, you should, because he is quite charming, and can tell you more of the background stories about the various images he’s captured here, and the people he has traveled with.  If you do not have that good fortune, no matter–the images stand on their own.  A few are of famous places (the Oculus in New York City, the Pantheon in Rome), others were taken in private homes, or in various museums.  There are few people in these images–mostly his attention was drawn to architectural details, still lifes, interior design elements: scenes of beauty, each one, at large and small scales. 

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Flores-Vianna admits in his preface that his literary impressions of places gloss over the harsher depths of reality, and that he takes photographs to record things as they should be, rather than as they are, in an effort to help the viewer imagine better versions of what he depicts.  You can call him a romantic, or an unrealistic idealist, and you’d likely be right, but the world needs beauty and idealism, probably more so now than usual.  In any case, you could do far worse than spend some time appreciating these images and the photographer’s aesthetic–a dose of optimism might just inspire the reader to observe or create something beautiful, or to work towards making something better.

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I’ll add that this book would make a lovely gift for your favorite traveler, or your favorite armchair traveler.  You can buy it from Eleish van Breems if you’d like to support a small business.

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 1/2 Whistles

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Lead-In Image Courtesy of Vendome Press

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