Elgin Park: Visual Memories of America from the 1920's to the mid 1960's at 1/24th Scale

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Member Reviews

Wow, what an interesting read! The intricate detail that goes into making these models is incredible and I am blown away by how amazing they all look! I am a vintage/rockabilly girl at heart and found myself smiling at these pictures, giving me the warm & fuzzies!
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This is an extraordinary body of work, and a fascinating book.

Elgin Park is the exploration of memory and fantasy by Michael Paul Smith, using metal cars from the middle of last century, combined with his model making skills and real backdrops to create scenes of everyday life. All of this is done without Photoshop.

Smith uses a perspectival slight of hand to situate imagined scenes into real backdrops. He places each scene with a road, cars and buildings on a table, using the real backdrops to incorporate a background, weather and the broader environment into each scene. The cars are 1/24th scale so everything incorporated into the foreground must work with the same scale. It’s a cunning slight of hand that gives a sense of reality to what is a complete construction. 

What is so remarkable is that even after seeing how Smith has set up a shot, there is a sense of reality in the work that encourages a more detailed viewing. It is as if Smith has captured the shot in the middle of some everyday scene playing out; someone has just ducked into a shop, or is in the front room practicing on the piano, or popped inside for a cuppa, leaving the ute in the driveway mid tire change. 

It is this sense of story that is so captivating. It isn’t actually the technique, although that is fascinating technically, but the stories that create the idealized town from mid last century. It is part idealized memory combined with the fantasy of what a community could be, that reveals how far America has traveled from this ideal as a country.

The book has been really well produced. It has lush photographs, and explanations from Smith that are often accompanied by comments from his online followers. Many followers offer great insight into how the work affects them. It gives the book an extra dimension to what Smith does as an artist. So often an artist will create work in isolation, with little or no engagement or feedback prior to an exhibition. In this case, modern opportunities presented by social media allow a community to spring up around the work and the artist, offering a more complex and sophisticated examination of American culture.

I highly recommend this book, for artists, photographers, model makers and sociologists. I found it fascinating.

Reading copy provided by NetGalley for an honest review.
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Thoroughly enjoyable book. Would make a really great coffee table book for many. It is perfect for anyone interested in 1/24 scale cars, Americana history of the 1930’s-1960’s, or photographs. 
I would have like a few more photographs, especially full page.
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I didn't love the formatting of this book. Now that that's out of the way, I can point out that this book is incredible. The inclusion of the comments which were left on Michael Paul Smith's Flickr over the years, and the background and set-up shots, bring the viewer into the world of Smith, and of Elgin Park. This book is an incredible testament to this man's dedication to his art, and to history. The photographs are wonderful, and incredibly realistic. This book would look fantastic on your coffee table, on your desk, but most preferably, in your hands as you flip through the pages and watch a world come to life.
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Arc received thanks to Animal Media Group and Netgalley. This is no way affected my review of the ARC. 

Publication Date: 27th October 2015
Review Date: 01st November 2017

Photography books are not usually what I like to read. I like to settle down and have a look through an The Art of... book. I find them much more interesting, with a lot behind it such as character designs, where this character originally came from, things like that. After being auto approved for Animal Media Group, I spotted this on their shelves, and decided that hey! Why not read something out my comfort zone for once. I might even enjoy it.

I have to admit, I didn’t care much for the writing within this book. After trying to get through the large amount of information, I got quite bored, very quickly. Instead, I had a wonderful time flicking through the photos, and what was underneath the photos instead of the whole story of this book – I feel like I defeated the purpose of reading a book, but frankly, the photographs fascinated me more than anything else.

I’d never heard of Elgin Park before I found this book, and I didn’t exactly do tons of research either – Elgin Park is a small town in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The most I’ve ever done when visiting America, is just go to New York. I didn’t go anywhere past that. I don’t really want to go anywhere in America other than a few choice places for the ice hockey. However, Elgin Park: Visual Memories of Midcentury America at 1/24th scale makes me feel nostalgic. I feel nostalgic for a place I never even existed. Looking through these photos, I can imagine myself and my childhood friends playing along these streets, I can feel the childhood I had thrown right back at me through these photos.

There’s a specific beauty about photography, and about craftsman ship. Michael Paul Smith has pulled it all together in an amazing way that truly shows that art is still a masterpiece. Photography and crafting are still a part of art, and Smith is the obvious show of that. Looking through these models that Smith created, 1/24th of the size of his home town, gave me a thrill. Seeing these tiny, intricate designed little houses and bungalows made me think about a time where things were… simpler. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but I’ve never felt… happy before when looking at images like this. But reading through this really gave me that soft, happy glowing feeling. I smiled softly, I felt like I was looking at my own childhood home.

Considering I didn’t read hardly any of the text within this book, I am utterly amazed at just how the photos in this have made me feel. Just the actual photos themselves.

When I get chance, I will definitely be looking through this again to read fully, with the text, but for now, it’s already a solid 4/5 stars for this book. Absolutely spectacular.
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I am a huge fan of miniatures and I was aware of Michael Paul Smith's work through his Flickr gallery and references online.  This book combines wickedly creative jaw-dropping camera perspective tricks and fiddles to thoroughly fool the eye.  

Comment after comment in the book and on his website says 'Come on, these are REAL aren't they'?!  Most miniature and diorama work can be distinguished easily; something just looks a little bit off.  Very rarely, the eye really is fooled into having to LOOK for that 'one little thing that isn't quite right'.  These pictures, and I mean -every single one of them- is so perfect that when the camera angle is shifted to show the scale models as models, it's the out of place hand or plywood base in the shot that looks out of place.  The cover is a good example.   It's a scene out of  'The attack of the 50 foot tall man! (in 3D)'.  The cars are real, the house is real, the man looks photoshopped in!

I will always be in awe of Michael Paul Smith's utter mastery of perspective and his model building expertise is mind-blowing.  I have friends who are professional architects and they're in awe of his structure modeling too.

If the artist were only a gifted miniaturist, that might get old after a while.  That's just not the case here.  The photos have a definite narrative.  They resonate.  It's easy to set myself in the scene and imagine what the people in the house would be doing or how the Dr. would spend his scant weekend free time.  The use of light and photography filters is virtuoso.  He's a wizard and I fervently hope we continue to be allowed to enjoy his magic for many years to come.

Five supernova stars!
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While it wasn't what I expected from the description, I really enjoyed the pictures and details on the miniatures.  Reminded me of visiting the Thorn Rooms.
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Fascinating look at Michael Paul Smith's Elgin Park photography series that was originally featured online.  Smith makes composite picture in miniature that are set in the past (1920s to 1950's, primarily).  It is especially interesting to see not only his images, but also the greater scene to understand the care and meticulous attention Smith gives to details in constructing his images.
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Wow, what a unique and interesting photo book. This book was so fun to read and look and re-look at that pictures. Taking miniature sets and photographing them in life size backgrounds was so cool.  Learning how he did all of the staging, models and construction to make each of these photos happen was amazing. You will never look at a picture again without thinking how did they do that and is that the real size of everything. 
Love of cars, places and things gone by make this a beautiful book to share.
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ELGIN PARK is a fictional town created by photographer Michael Paul Smith through his photography.  It is representative of midcentury America, but on a much smaller scale.  The book takes readers through a guided tour of what made him begin shooting his photographs, to creating his Flickr account, to why the book was created.  It's a collection of his followers commentary as much as it is of the photographs he's taken along the way, which only adds to the work, letting us all relate even more to it.  As one quoted person says: "It's art, but art brought to ordinary people's emotional lives."

The book is not only visually impressive, watching how Smith creates his photographs using model cars against the backdrops of homes he's created, etc, so that it truly is life at 1/24th the normal size, but it's stimulating because you can see how his work evolved based on interactions with those who found his work interesting.  Definitely a great conversational piece and would make an awesome coffee table book.
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Elgin Park: Visual Memories of MidCentury America at 1/24th Scale is about a unique project created by Michael Paul Smith.  He photographs "old-timey" model cars and handmade scenes to recreate childhood memories.  These scenes are loosely based on the town of Sewickley, PA during the mid-1960's.  This book is a behind the scenes look at where and how Mr. Smith creates these magical scenes.  They look so real!  He turned his hobby into preserving the past.  "...represents a deep nostalgia for...the lost world of people's childhood and adolescence." Originally posted to his Flickr account, visitor comments are included which show just how much these scenes have impacted his audience.  Captions contain dates, artist thoughts, and how-to information on what it took to create the shot.  It is uncanny to look at the 1/24 scale models at the actual photo shoot and end photographs themselves.  The attention to detail with minimal props is phenomenal! Additionally, he has added characters to each caption to build another layer of story without actually adding people to the photograph.  "My photos are a one-frame story being told."  This hasn't stopped fans from photoshopping themselves onto Elgin Park pics though!  As a modeler, photographer, artist, storyteller, teacher, and friend, Michael Paul Smith has created a better world.  As a bonus, you might spot Robby the Robot too!
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I have to start my review by saying that Elgin Park is the first book I read that combines photography and arts and crafts in such a unique way. Michael Paul Smith does an amazing job introducing a hobby that gained such a following the past few years and interests people all over the world.

Elgin Park is a fictional town built by Mr. Smith. A romantic at heart artist with so much talent and an affinity for true American nostalgia. This book contains amazing photos and all his efforts to built something so inspiring and majestic.

The photos are not processed or photoshopped, the scenes are directed perfectly and everything used is a hand-made. The feel of those decades is apparent even in the tiniest detail and the final product looks too real. 


- Great for every car enthusiast.
- Or a photography buff...
- And even for lovers of the early 1900's to 1960's.
- You can also visit the Elgin Park here:  http://www.visitelginpark.com
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Michael Paul Smith gained an online following through his photographs of mid century America made entirely by miniature models he has hand made. 

This book is stunning. The detail in his work is mind blowing and shows his dedication to his art. The behind the scene photos and snippets were wonderful glimpses into what started Smith's work and the time that goes into these wonderful photos.

A great read for those with a love for the 40s/50s Americana aesthetic.
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It is a really interesting insight into how the author created his miniature photos
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Elgin Park is a beautiful book, all thanks to the artist and creator. I'm glad I was able to get a copy off of NetGalley, otherwise I might have not know about the art.
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I am in shock and awe of what one man has done with a folding table, a toy car, and a doll house. This book is basically a behind the scenes look at how Michael Paul Smith builds his photography town of Elgin Park. What goes into making the houses and buildings. How he comes up with his backstory for the town. And a small introduction into the mind of a Photography Super Hero. Anyone who is into photography who sees this book will probably agree with me when I call him a Super Hero.

When I first saw this book I was thinking I was just going to get a book of photographs but I got so much more. I loved reading about how Michael Paul Smith came up with Elgin Park, how he builds his backdrops, how he twists a photo into a meaningful story.
I have a true love of photography.

I have well over 100,000 pictures on my hard drive I have taken myself but nothing like this. I see, I like, I take a picture of it. Michael Paul Smith see's with is imagination, takes a toy car from his vast collection, builds a house or building then goes out in the town he lives in to find the perfect backdrop for his photos. Whether it is a bridge, a set of trees, another building, or just in his driveway.

Michael Paul Smith has invented his own town called Elgin Park. He bases it on the town of Sewickley Pennsylvania, where he grew up.

Michael Paul Smith builds his own houses to 1/24 scale. He completely furnishes most of them all hand made mind you. He has thought of everything from the tiniest napkin holders in the diner to the tarps to cover cars.

His photos have no people but his captions added to each photo tells the story of the lives of the people in Elgin Park without their faces. Your minds eye can picture this town with people everywhere doing their day to day thing, shopping, working, kids playing, dogs barking whatever. It really makes you want to pack and move to this small imaginary town.

If you were to see these photos without knowing they were props you would think they were real life photo's taken in the 20's to the 60's when life was simpler. some of these photo's are taken on Michael's kitchen counter's but you would never know. Everything is done to scale. You cannot tell where reality and prop begin or end in the photo's. They look so real. This a a book I will be cherishing for years to come. I may even try some tips I learned in the book just to see what and if I can come anywhere near accomplishing even the tiniest bit of what Michael Paul Smith has.

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.
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This book was very interesting...as my sister and I also do miniatures...that is basically why I read it...I was curious to read a story...about how a person made his own city...in miniature...how he made his own "world"...I really enjoyed this book..and recommend it to anyone...especially anyone with an interest in miniatures!
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This book was part story, part history, part educational, and all amazing. The photos that are showed though the chapters create a story by just looking at them. And then the reader is shown how the photo was set up and you find out what is miniature and what isn't. The creator isn't shy about discussing how he created these different illusions and sets. What materials he used and how he made it all work. It also included some of the responses from others that followed the work online. They played into the stories that Mr. Smith created and he added on from there. It was a great working relationship. He also welcomed feedback and corrections graciously. Anyone that is interested in illusion type photography could learn a few things as well as anyone that would like to just reminisce about an era passed.
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I have heard of Michael Paul Smith and his amazing photographs before so I was excited to read this. This book shows the work Michael does to build sets and create scenes. It also includes others who are joining in on the fun and visitors comments. The end results are always my favorite but I enjoyed seeing the behind the scene shots as well.
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