“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” is a photographic essay of life in the poor rural South during the Great Depression.In it, master photographer Walker Evans and writer James Agee form a partnership to chronicle the lives of three families, the Gudgers, the Woods, and the Ricketts. However, the story is much more than simply the diary of people’s daily lives.Agee writes, “I believe that every human being is potentially capable within his ‘limits’ of fully ‘realizing’ his potentialities; that this, his being cheated and choked of it, is infinitely the ghastliest, commonest, and most inclusive of all the crimes of which the human world can assure itself” (Agee and Evans 307).
Therefore, this moving book is part chronicle, part social conscious, and part early reality television, combined to create a book that changed the way many looked at the poor and the hungry during the Depression.Eventually, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saw the miscarriages between the poor and the still wealthy in the country, and increase the tax burden on the wealthy to help equal out While Agee creates a moving essay on the dignity and promise of America’s poor, the real meat of the book lies in Evans’ outstanding and moving photography.
The photos themselves, 50 of them, use no captions or descriptions to tell the viewer what to look for.They simply present the families as they are, allowing the viewer to make up their own mind about what they are seeing with no explanation.The photos themselves are stark black and white, immediately showing the utter poverty these people survived in, but also illustrating their strength, their dignity, and their Evans uses different camera techniques quite effectively throughout the book.
Some shots are close-up, showing the weathered lines on faces, the sheer exhaustion of the heavy work, and the frank understanding o…