The crisp fall photo of the Allegheny Mountains on the cover of “Pennsylvania: A Photographic Journey” immediately draws you in to see what other wonders photographer Richard Nowitz has captured across the state. As a National Geographic photographer with 40 years of experience, Nowitz focuses his lens here on anything and everything that the state has to offer. Each photograph has a short caption that usually explains what the subject is and offers a bit of history or context. This makes the book a nice gift for out of state friends or relatives who may not be familiar with Pennsylvania but it could also be fun for locals to flip through and reminisce or discover new places they would not have ever thought to visit.
The book does not have any formal organization such as chapters or themes and the photos tend to hop from location to location. Though there are some spreads of photographs that are more organized and relate to each other, the reader might have to ponder what the connections are on some pages. The subjects of Nowitz’s photos include historic sites, nature, art, architecture, amusement parks, industrial sites, roadside attractions, and Amish communities. That last subject is a little contentious as there are several photos of Amish people whose wishes to not be photographed should be respected.
For native Pennsylvanians, such as myself, who look at this book, it might be easy to flip past the photos of familiar places or things, but there is something about Nowitz’s framing that entices you to want to look closer. He has a way of making even Fallingwater, likely the most photographed house in the state, look fresh as an organic piece of the Laurel Mountain landscape. Looking through “Pennsylvania: A Photographic Journey” will certainly impress readers with all that Pennsylvania has to offer.
Reviewed by Liz Simpson, Assistant Editor/Assistant Registrar, Heinz History Center