If there ever was a book which was brilliant, bold, intricate, intimate, poetic and brave, its this. Rare as can be, this work is not known to many but for me it defined how photography could be so involving.
Photographed by Jim Goldberg and published by Scalo in 1995, this book was originally created to support the exhibit it accompanied.
“Although the accompanying book received one mixed review shortly after publication, it was described as “a heartbreaking novel with pictures”, and Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in their book The Photobook: A History praised it as “complex and thoughtful.”
Created over 10 years, the book follows a group of teenagers who live on the streets of San Francisco & Los Angeles. Jim Goldberg’s craft with storytelling reaches its pinnacle with this book, it creates a new level of its own.
As a book, the first thing which you notice is the embedded roughness. Jim made multiple versions of the book before he finalised on the one to be printed (I think 7 versions in total). Softcover with thick gloss pages and a open spine, the book encourages you to spread it out, open and expose it completely.
This attitude is also mirrored in the very structure of the book where images are always fearless and unapologetic. These combined with letters, correspondence and conversations between the photographers and the subjects, creates a implosive shock which makes you really reconsider our own prejudice and perceptions.
Raised By Wolves is one of those books which shakes you and pulls you apart, completely changing the way you think. Goldberg’s genius lies in the modesty and utter humility which reflects in his work, which changes this book from a documentary to a deeply moving personal portrait.
In case you’d want to have a read, there is a page on Slideshare where you can see the entire book. Also if you’d like to look at more work by Goldberg, its available on the Magnum Photos website. There is another detailed review of the work available on American Suburb X in case you’re interested.