Dallas Morning News

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fruit of the Orchard: Environmental Justice in East Texas

Photographs by Tammy Cromer-Campbell

(University of North Texas Press; $25)

This book will touch the hearts of those who care about the environment and people in Texas. And it will open the eyes of those who are unaware of the state's pollution crisis.

Taking a plastic Holga camera in hand, Tammy Cromer-Campbell set out to document the effects a toxic waste facility had upon the Piney Woods residents of Winona, Texas. Her approach to the project and the carefully crafted, sophisticated style she presents in the book have the feel of fine-art photography rather than predictable documentary. Yet she has retained the documentarian's tools of covering the situation with depth, compassion and purpose.

As you read the essays and discover the personal stories of the people in and around Winona, the photos and their subjects take on more layers, and an instant, haunting connection is made.

The Holga, to some a toy camera, serves to enhance the photographer's style by providing a natural, ethereal, vignette effect (some might say distorted) around the edges of each image.

This book may not be the most feel-good Christmas gift you could choose, but it should certainly be on your list as a fine gift for friends and family members with a social conscience.

Mona Reeder

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