Photo Book Project Documents America’s Bowling Alleys and its Bowlers

“Bowling the American Dream” could very well be an interesting addition to a sporty photographer’s photo book collection.

Looking for fresh documentary photography projects that you can explore in the photo book form? We spotted an interesting project by Jeff Sonnabend, who is currently funding a print run of his art quality photo book titled Bowling the American Dream. Whether you’re interested in sports-related projects, have fond memories of bowling alleys in your town, or are curious about this particular slice of the American Dream, this could be a photo book project that you can support.

Sonnabend shares on the Kickstarter campaign that his project began in 2016 as a response to a statement by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam on the American bowling alley as a reflection of the American Dream. Hence, the decline of the American bowling alley also mirrored a decline in the American social capital. Likewise, Stanford professor Raj Chetty noted that its rise and fall is indicative of the rise and fall of the belief in upward social mobility — essentially the “American Dream” itself. As a photographer, Sonnabend became interested in exploring how all these translate into a visual story and spent the next few years visiting and documenting over 50 bowling alleys across 13 states.

“What do these bellwethers of the American Dream look like? What visual clues about the American Dream – lost or found – do bowling alleys reveal? BOWLING THE AMERICAN DREAM seeks to answer these questions, visually documenting the American Bowling Alley and its bowlers.”

The culmination of this curiosity is a photo book with approximately 112 pages, with over 100 photographs and an introduction by Sonnabend. It will be a hardcover volume with a full-color dust jacket, with the pages in 100-pound coated stock. With a pledge of $65 or more, you can grab a signed copy of this first edition. Or, if you want to have a small print as well, you can pledge $135 for a signed copy and a signed limited edition 11 x 14 inch print of one of the photos featured in the book. The project still has a long way to go to reach its $3,900 goal, but there’s still some time to show your support. Head to the Bowling the American Dream Kickstarter campaign to find out more and make your pledge.


Photo from the Kickstarter campaign by Jeff Sonnabend