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Children's Literary Salons: The Children's Literary Salon - Photography and Children's Books: A Complex Pairing


Photographers Nina Crews, Joanne Dugan, Charles R. Smith, and Susan Kuklin, all of whom work in the realm of children's literature, discuss the highs and lows of this skilled but rarely properly credited art.

Nina Crews uses photography and collage to create distinctive picture books. Her stories draw inspiration from the children and neighborhoods of Brooklyn – her home for over 25 years. She is the daughter of children’s book authors Donald Crews and Ann Jonas and grew up watching them work. Her first book, One Hot Summer Day, was published in 1995 and is still in print today. She has had two books selected for ALA’s Notable list – The Neighborhood Mother Goose, and Below. Her latest books, The Neighborhood Sing-Along and Jack and the Beanstalk were both published Spring 2011. Nina lives in Park Slope with her husband, son and cat.

Joanne Dugan is a photographer, author, curator and educator who lives in New York City. Her interdisciplinary photography-based projects include fine art exhibitions/installations, published books, commissioned assignments, design projects and short films.  As an author, Joanne's photography and writing has been published in six books, including the children's titles: ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City (Abrams Books) and 123 NYC: A Counting Book of New York City (Abrams Books).

Susan Kuklin's first professional experience as a photographer began in Tennessee, where with the help of Planned Parenthood of the Tennessee Mountains, she photographed Appalachian mountain families. Her first assignment was to photograph Princess Grace of Monaco at Ringling Bros. Circus for Time magazine. At that point Life Magazine had her riding around with undercover cops while The Bronx was burning. Later she photographed George Balanchine’s Nutcracker from behind the scenes and at rehearsals. She continued to do dance photography, working with such choreographers as Alvin Ailey, Bill T. Jones, Jennifer Muller, and Donald Byrd. Also had the privilege of photographing the jazz great Alberta Hunter and the magnificent Joan Sutherland. Finally, she became the photographer for Project Nim, a study at Columbia University. Project Nim asked the question can a chimpanzee learn language. The photographs for this project became both an adult and children’s book [Knopf]. Susan's photos have also appeared in the books Families, All Aboard: A True Train Story, Dance, and most recently Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out amongst many others.

Charles R. Smith Jr. is an award-winning author, photographer and poet with 
over thirty books to his credit. His awards include a Coretta Scott King Award 
for Illustration for his photographs accompanying the Langston Hughes poem, 
My People. Today, Charles R. Smith Jr. combines his passions of writing and photography with a variety of subjects that spark his interest. Even though his early books such as Rimshots, Hoop Kings and Hoop Queens focus on basketball, Charles has shown the ability to apply his talents to a variety of subjects, including diversity with I Am America, Greek mythology with The Mighty 12, and Negro League baseball with Stars in the Shadows to name a few.