Red-Blooded American Male is a beautifully presented collection of male portraits taken over several years by celebrity photographer Robert Trachtenberg. Throughout, it is clear why Trachtenberg is sought out for his work: the images are full of mischief and quirkiness while never resorting to over-orchestration or showboating. The photographs are a testament to personality rather than presentation, giving us unique but endearing glimpses of the individuals being photographed.
Each image is either full or two page spreads with many including short observations by the photographer: some include witticisms, some notes, and others are outpouring of love/respect for that particular subject. If I had a nitpick, it was that I wanted much more than was given; some images had no information at all and others just hinted at a lot unsaid. Because we only get a few snippets of general observations, this is clearly a book intended for the layman and not necessarily other photographers who would be interested in the concepts/setups/etc. and how they came about. But then again, Trachtenberg notes quite early that there are far too many photographers out there and they are a bit scary: when asked his favorite photographers, he answered, “Food photographers. Because they’re not taking jobs from me.” Also interesting is that he notes how easy it is to take a good picture but difficult to take one with interest.
Trachtenberg’s personality is greatly on show here and it is a pleasure to read, sure to elicit smiles. Slightly self deprecating but with the twinkle so obvious as his signature photography style. My favorite was in the acknowledgements at the end, when he starts, “In many cases, these photos were produced on assignment under extreme conditions. At times the caterer forgot to make the chicken breasts boneless or the DJ on set would play a song we had heard before. Once, we had to wait for a little bit while the valet ran down the hill to get our car. In other words, there’s absolutely nothing to complain about – it’s the best job in the world.”
The celebrities photographed here are impressive and all the images are quite a treat to enjoy. The layout is clean and showcases the images perfectly. In all, a wonderful coffee table book to enjoy now and then – both for Trachtenberg’s quirky photography as well as the personalities so beautifully realized throughout. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.