reeseby Terrence A. Reese. TAR; Blurb, 2013. 153 p. ill. ISBN 9780615729671 (pbk.), $70.00.
Reviewed March 2016

Nadine Sergejeff, Librarian, Special Collections, The Newark Public Library, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

At first glance, Reflections might be mistaken as merely a compilation of black and white photographs. However, these unique images afford an intimate tour into the lives of prominent African Americans as captured by a camera lens and a mirror by the noted photographer Terrence A. Reese (tar). Taken between the mid-1990s and 2012, the pictures document the interiors of homes and work spaces of sixty-nine prominent African Americans.

The reader will not be satisfied with just a brief look at these rich photographs, which include Lois Mailou Jones, Gordon Parks, Elizabeth Catlett, and Faith Ringgold. As suggested by the title, a mirror is placed in every scene, encouraging the viewer to thoroughly study each image. One gets drawn into the photographs, carefully seeking to identify the subject (this is especially engaging in a cluttered setting), and in doing so, one has the opportunity to study the scene in great detail. At times, the mirror reflects only a part of a countenance, such as a close-up of Amiri Baraka's eye. At other times, the reflection contains a portrait which reveals the sitter's mood. One is invited to see components of these people's lives that would otherwise be out of view—family photographs, art work collections, keepsakes, their personal libraries, and interior décor. Collectively, these various articles form a space which embodies and reflects each individual.

To further enhance the intimacy, the photographer shares his memories of each shoot, biographical details, unfiltered excerpts of conversations, beautiful descriptions of each setting, and recounts their personalities in a genuine manner. In many instances, the subjects passed on knowledge, such as the history of the Civil Rights Movement, which the fortunate reader is given the opportunity to absorb. Insight, such as the one given by John E. Jacob, emphasizes that "success comes from being smart, having a vision, building relationships and being ready" (p. 88).

This book is self-published and one should consider the more durable hardcover version. Furthermore, while the book is produced in a very creative fashion, the graphic design on the setting descriptions is a little busy (the lines are bit long and the color of the sentences varies between gray and black). While these techniques may be intended to provide visual breaks on the page, it may be distracting for some readers. If one is willing to overlook typographical errors with regard to the subject's names (for example, Abena Joan P. Brown is erroneously referred to as Abena Jones P. Brown and Amiri Baraka is misspelled as Amari, etc.), then this would be a worthwhile addition to a collection related to black culture. Somewhat comparable to Let Your Motto Be Resistance (2007), Reflections will appeal to a broad audience and is suitable for those interested in photography and African American studies