Like most photography lovers, my living room coffee table features a rotating stable of large-format photography books. The one photo book that has not left my coffee table since it was published in 2016 is QT Luong’s 456 page masterpiece of a book, Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. If I could describe this book in a few short words it would be, “The Encyclopedia of National Park Photography Books”. Many photographers have published books on individual national parks or a selection of parks but very few have photographed all 59 of the parks to the degree that Luong has. The legendary David Muench comes to mind but other than that I don’t know anyone else who rivals the body of work that QT Luong has created on the National Parks. Treasured Lands is not your traditional photo book either. This book features an equal-mix of landscape / nature photography and guidebook-quality text. In addition to creating the photos, Luong also wrote all of the text.
I had seen an early version of QT’s text and layout when he was writing the book which was already quite impressive in that early state, but the final product completely blew me away. I learned about national parks that I had never heard of (Congaree National Park in South Carolina for example) and I learned how truly remote some of these parks are. Some of the Alaskan parks only see a few thousand visitors per year at best for example. Reading QT’s descriptions of his journeys painted some vivid visions in my own mind of how it must have been to visit these parks. The amount of effort he has put in to photograph these parks with large-format film cameras and digital is truly remarkable.
I’ve known QT through various photography forums and social media for many years now, and met him at a photowalk in San Francisco. I can say that he is a very humble man and super passionate about the national parks. I have the utmost respect for what he has done. If there is one photography book that you should consider buying as a Christmas gift, Treasured Lands: A Photography Odyssey Through America’s National Parks, is the book you should buy.
Below are some notes from the publisher:
– A collection of photographs documenting the diversity of the the national parks in a more comprehensive way (456 pages, 500+ photos) than any single volume before.
– Photographs span all seasons, times of the day and night, made over a 23-year period (May 1993 to Oct 1995) with both large-format film and digital equipment.
– Equal treatment given to well-known and lesser-known national parks.
– Within each park, locations (411 total) chosen to be representative, cover each of its corners, mix iconic with out-of-the-way and remote places.
A- photographer’s guide to the national parks, encourage visitation by sharing with reader the information they need to visit and photograph the locations (60 maps, 130,000+ words).
Production and Value
– High quality photography reproduction (from one of the best art printers in the world, Artron).
– Heavy weight matte art paper (book weights 7.3 lbs), with gloss varnish for the images, avoid both pitfalls of glossy paper for borders/text and dullness of matte paper for photos.
– Introduction text highlights what makes the park unique (geography, geology, flora…), provides interesting facts, tells a natural history story using the images.
– Images printed without distracting captions, which are instead in a separate spread. Multi-image spread design.
– Maps with locations of the photographed keyed. Uses NPS layout because of familiarity. Simplified for legibility in book, electronic version has full-detail maps since they are zoomable.
– Statistics, visitor facts about the park, orientation and how park changes with the seasons.
For each location: thumbnail(s), caption(s), detailed descriptions of exactly how to get there, best times of the day or of the year to go, photo tips, stories about authors experience.
Photo & image credits: QT Luong. Images provided by the photographer.