“I want to be Kitty Kelley when I grow up.”
This was the general consensus of our table at the Book Blogger’s Conference at BEA this past summer after meeting Kitty Kelley and hearing her stories about her friend Stanley Tretick. She was filled with so much energy and light as she speaking of her friend. It was obvious that it had meant a great deal to her to be able to create this book that not only honored him and his legacy as a photographer but also paid tribute to their close friendship.
The idea for Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedy’s was born after Kitty had come into possession of an old trunk of Stanley’s after he had passed away. It was a trunk that she had never opened before and whenever she asked about it, Stanley swore that there were nude photographs inside. In actuality the trunk contained several candid shots of President Kennedy and the Kennedy family that had been taken by Stanley during his years as the reporter and photographer that had been assigned to the Kennedy’s and the White House. There were also several notes and mementos which demonstrated the kind of fondness that the Kennedy family seemed to have for the photographer and it was obvious that the feeling was mutual. It was a personal viewing into a private world that just seemed perfectly crafted for an unauthorized autobiography.
I really enjoyed the way that the book was put together. At the beginning, Kitty Kelley takes a few paragraphs to describe her friendship with Stanley Tretick, and give the book the necessary creditability. Then using her skills as a researcher and as a writer, she takes you on a lovely journey as she pays tribute to her friend and to the Kennedy’s. It is really easy to breeze through the glossy pages, and as you do you learn about the kind of man that Stanley Tretick was as well as about the John F. Kennedy, and other members of the family.
This iconic photograph of John F. Kennedy Jr. playing at his father’s feet under the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office at the White House was one of the many photographs taken by Stanley Tretick. It was part of a collection that Stanley was putting together of photos of father and son spending time together. This was much to the dismay of the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy who was against her children being photographed and used for political purposes. Later after the assassination of President Kennedy, the First Lady expressed her gratitude for the photos, and declared that she was thankful that Stanley had ignored her wishes.
Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedy’s is filled with breathtaking pictures, several of which have never been seen before by the public eye. It really is a stunning look at history through the eyes of the man taking the pictures. I’m admittedly in some aspects a little bit of a history nerd so it was so much fun to hear a different story about the Kennedy family. It also hold a special essence because it is not a story about a stranger but instead a story about a man who the author cared deeply about. With her ability to combine both of those elements, Kitty Kelley has crafted both a timeless story, and a timeless tribute.
Disclosure: Received from publisher for an honest review.
Other reviews of Capturing Camelot: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the Kennedy’s by Kitty Kelley:
Fangs, Wands, and Fairy Dust: “Great book, filled with great photos and affection for the subjects and the photographer…“