Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Real~Book Review


Real by Shelley Malcolm

note: proceeds from Real go to various charities. More information is available here.

About the Book

“REAL” is a collection of 60 inspirational stories by Shelley Malcolm, with photos by Terilee Dawn Ouimette. The stories are deeply revealing, while the photos are anonymous, focusing only on each subject’s hands. Subjects range from adolescent to elderly, from former gangster to humble homeless, international refugee to hero-housewife, from pro athlete to Hollywood celebrity.

Focusing on her subjects’ hands instead of their faces allows Malcolm’s subjects to share more freely about their lives, tragedies, hopes, dreams, loves, and toils. Ouimette displays an uncanny ability to capture each character’s essence on film by depicting one of more sets of hands at work, at play, giving or receiving help. The result shows the genius of the project, the use of anonymity displaying a greater level of intimacy and vulnerability than might have been possible by any other means.

Malcolm states that her inspiration for the book came from a dream with similar images, revealing the beauty in imperfections in a person’s hands. “The hand image is made beautiful by the life behind it,” she explains. “More anonymous than a face or even eyes which show identity and emotion, our hands portray our work, our affection, scars…even our mistakes.”

Confronting the importance of status and beauty in our society, “Real” honestly unveils the life stories of remarkable individuals through moving images and stories that range from tragic to hopeful to triumphant.

Real - The Book from David Malcolm on Vimeo.

My Thoughts

I thought this book looked interesting when I first looked at it. I was not prepared for the emotions I would feel once I started reading it!

Real tells the stories of people from various walks of life with photographs of just their hands. These photos are stunning! They tell stories of hardship, sadness, beauty, hope and so many other feelings.

The stories within the pages of this book are beautiful. You will meet folks who have so few material possessions yet have so much more. You will meet husbands and wives who have shared their lives with each other for many years. You will meet folks who struggle each day and folks who heal.

Each page has a single photograph and the facing page tells the story.

One of my favorites was Gladys. She was reading her Bible. Her hands reminded me so much of my own grandmother. It brought me to tears remembering my  grandma holding her Bible.

The stories are short but you come away feeling you know much about each person.  Ms. Malcolm was able to capture the story of each person in just a few paragraphs.

I especially enjoyed the epilogue at the end of the book that tells where each person in the story is today.

Real would make a wonderful coffee table book or a gift to someone special. It is truly a wonderful book! 

The book is available for purchase here.


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