See San Francisco: Through the Lens of SFGirlbyBay
Victoria Smith claims she is not a professional photographer, but more of a story teller. True enough, her book See San Francisco, is more of a photographic voyage, giving us a portrait of a city with very good accompanying text with each chapter. Too bad the book has some serious shortcomings. Smith goes for quantity, presenting a large number of photographs, instead of quality. The reader will page through this enormous collection, and be unable to focus on any, because of the sheer number.
Presenting a quarter, or less, of page-size photos would’ve improved this book. The photos are mostly small, 3¾ by 2¾ inches, interspersed with full-page photos, occasionally double-page spreads.
The photo quality is poor—anyone with a cheap digital camera could’ve come up with the same. We see photos of everything, but in very few do we meet people: doorways, business signs, graffiti, inside of retail stores, menus, and storefronts.
Another major shortcoming is orientation. Smith divides San Francisco into eighteen districts, and presents her photos accordingly. Unless you live in the city, you are not oriented without a map that is sorely missed. We have no captions that we find until the end—too late for most readers.