Cover for ZALAZNIK: Life along the Illinois River. Click for larger image

Life along the Illinois River

A panoramic odyssey down the Illinois River

The Illinois River flows through the heart of Illinois, beginning in the northeast of the state at the confluence of the Kankakee River and the Des Plaines River in Grundy County and extending 270 miles to the southwest, where it joins the Mississippi River at Grafton in Jersey County. A major colonial trade route and home to a diverse range of wildlife, the Illinois River still serves a vital role in shipping and fishing. Many people depend on this river for their livelihoods, and many more are drawn to its waters as an escape for recreation, sport, and reflection.

This collection of photographs offers intimate insight into the Illinois River, spanning its entire length and illustrating the river throughout all seasons. Evoking moods that are by turns meditative, practical, and quirkily playful, the ninety full-color photographs in this volume compose a portrait of the Illinois River with a face that is transformed throughout every hour of the day. Photojournalist David Zalaznik captures the spirit of people at work and at play on the river, as well as the quiet beauty of the flora and fauna that make the river a natural retreat. Guiding the reader through the unique communities built along the river’s shores--from Ottawa and Morris to Peoria and Chillicothe, from Lacon and Bath to Kampsville and Grafton, as well as many others--the photographs convey the sense of spontaneity, discovery, and celebration felt by people who live near or visit this great gift of nature.

Life along the Illinois River is a gracious portrait of a river that unites humanity and nature, and it offers a new vision of the Illinois River’s vitality and its role in our lives. The book also includes a short introduction by the photographer and a foreword by Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn.

"A work of love ... this is a book you'll continue to be drawn to, irresistibly."--IllinoisTimes

"Countless American landscapes languish in the shadows of such cherished icons as Zion, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, waiting patiently until someone like David Zalaznik comes along to search out their rhythms and beauties. The Illinois River is fortunate to have his attention, and we are the richer for what he has shown us."--Jim Richardson, photojournalist, National Geographic Society

“David Zalaznik’s Life along the Illinois River artfully captures river life with an eye informed as much by the hallmarks of American painting as by the tenets of documentary photojournalism. His studies of abandoned civic buildings evoke the solemnity of an Edward Hopper painting, and his awe-inspiring glimpses of wildlife recall the ornithological studies of John James Audubon. The emblazoned skies and pastoral vistas found in landscape paintings of the Hudson River School reverberate throughout these breathtaking photographs. This collection epically depicts the coalescence of life and landscape in the Illinois River Valley, vividly creating a contemporary portrait of Mid-Americana.”--Bill Conger, artist and curator of University Galleries at Illinois State University

“David Zalaznik’s photographs are nuanced, layered in tone as well as pictorial content. There is a richness to them, in the stories they tell and in their sensuous beauty. He has a clear eye, a sound vision, and a love for the river that is a source of life for the central Illinois valley. These lush photographs remind us of the river’s importance in our lives as a vital commercial link between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, a recreation site, a resource of drinking water and food, a nesting place for migrating birds, and a source of beauty, inspiration, and connection to our community’s past.”--Channy Lyons, author of Peoria Women Artists through 1970

David Zalaznik is a photographer for the Peoria Journal Star. He is a member of the National Press Photographers Association and the Illinois Press Photographers Association, both of which have recognized his work.

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