An amazing mid-century time capsule, courtesy of Diane Keaton

If you sat through Because I Said So last year desperately wishing Diane Keaton would find a project worthy of her talent and intelligence, take heart.

Twenty years ago, the actress (and photography enthusiast) bought the archives of the Bill Wood Photo Company, a defunct commercial-photography studio in Ft. Worth, Texas. Wood was a basic camera-for-hire in the 1950s and ’60s, snapping utilitarian portraits of whatever his clients wanted — car showrooms, glee clubs, beloved pets, deceased relatives — with little thought of artistry.

But curated by Keaton (with help from co-editor Marvin Heiferman) in the addictive book Bill Wood’s Business, the photographs take on a life and a slightly weird, unwitting artistry of their own. Bill Wood’s Business is a riveting time capsule of mid-century Middle American life — an album of what was important to one community at one point in time. The fun for the reader (and, one imagines, Keaton) is figuring out why it was.

BUY Bill Wood’s Business (Steidl/ICP; hardcover; 246 pages)

VISIT the exhibit Bill Wood’s Business at the International Center of Photography website

SEARCH for more information about Bill Wood’s Business

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. An amazing mid-century time capsule, courtesy of Diane Keaton