Strictly speaking, this book, Growing up in California, 1947-1959. Toy Racers and Giant Salamanders, is not about archaeology. It’s about the photographic skills I acquired over a period of 12 years that led directly to the more professional-level photography of later years in support of my archaeological and ethnographic projects in Mexico, and work with the 19th century photos of Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon.
A few years ago I began making my photos publically available. I began by publishing a co-authored book about backpacking in the Sierra Nevada of California, then a book about my four years in the Coast Guard, another of my photos of the 1969 San Francisco peace march, and finally four books of photos of Mexico.
But, Growing up in California brought me back to 1947 when I started taking photos as a pre-teen living at home where I was influenced by the family album photos of people and the environment taken by my mother and other family members. In choosing the photos for this book I looked closely at my photography for those first 12 years, but then extended my review to 1970. During the first 12 years my skills improved quickly, but there were a few years when the learning curve was much less steep. Then, beginning around 1968 my photographic output suddenly increased ten fold, and my photography matured with the help of photographers Ansel Adams and Pirkle Jones.
The following summarizes my photography through 1970:
“Looking back at my first 12 years of photography, I consistently documented the people and environment in my life, and that pattern has continued even to this day. My sense of design and technical expertise had its greatest gain in the two years prior to my departure for Mexico to study archaeology. Those gains were due to the training I received from masters of photography such as Adams, Jones and others, a ten fold increase my photographic output, and careful review of my camera work. By 1970, I was prepared to take on the photographic challenge of Mexico, and while my studies in archaeology at the university were invaluable, photography took me far beyond the classroom to villages and archaeological sites where I learned directly about Mexico’s ancient history and culture.” (Growing up in California, 1947-1959, 2014.Page 102)
Growing up in California, 1947-1959 is organized into two parts. The first part has photos taken from 1947 to 1953, and the second has those taken from 1954 to 1959. Part I begins with photos of students and activities in the 7th grade, and ends when I graduated from high school. Part II includes photos taken during my university years of dorm life and some family photos, and ends with photos of Coast Guard shipboard life.
A link to all DesmondBooks, including this new book published, by Blurb of San Francisco is below. Photos in all the books can be viewed standard size or full screen by using the Preview command.