Introducing the FlakPhoto Booklist
15 Photography Books You Should Add to Your Collection
They say this is The Golden Age of Photography Books (okay, not everyone, but you get the idea). The indie photobook scene is booming and the form is ripe with creative possibility. The problem is keeping up with it all, discovering the great ones, and finding the new book you’re going to love. It’s impossible for any one of us to know every title on these End of Year Photobook lists — the scene is literally exploding.
Like all things Internet, there’s an abundance of choice. That’s a good thing.
One of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions was to better support photography bookmakers and to promote the books that move me. For the most part, I’ve lived up to that goal: I’m sharing regular recommendations in the FlakPhoto Books group (you should join us!) and showcasing the interesting titles that come across my desk on Instagram. (Book geeks: you can browse my tips at hashtag #flakphotobooks.)
This year, I’m going to to take things a step further and publish a periodic feature here on Medium. It’s called the FlakPhoto Booklist and it kicks off today. Think of it as a guide — less “Best of”, more “You need to see this” (i.e. very subjective and highly curated). For the most part, these are small press productions. As it happens, these books were all published in 2017 but I plan to showcase publications old and new here moving forward. So, keep your eyes peeled.
I’ve done my best to link to the photographers and publishers who produced these titles and gone short on descriptions since my goal is to provide you starting points for discovery. Each of the book headlines links out to a website where you can learn more about (and order) these books — in most cases, directly from the publisher. Of course, Photo-eye Bookstore is likely to carry these titles too.
If something catches your eye, buy it! And, if you can, reach out to these photographers directly. I’m happy to connect you to any of these publishers too, if that’s helpful. Drop me a line and I’ll make an intro. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Larson, Hidden Mother (Saint Lucy Books)
Laura’s book was not at all what I expected which made it all the more surprising and wonderful. It’s exciting to see contemporary writing paired with found photography in such a moving fashion and the book is superbly designed. Glad to see Saint Lucy getting into the book game.
Tim Carpenter, Local Objects (The Ice Plant)
My fascination with the mundane: Tim’s work is all about place and the simple views we take for granted. It’s been fun to watch him experiment with bookmaking on the TIS Books imprint and this latest collection of Illinois landscapes is full of quiet reflection and angular compositions. The book’s gotten lots of play on the year-end lists for good reason: It’s terrific.
Anthony Gerace, “And Another Thing…” (Ain’t-Bad)
What can I say? I’ve always been a sucker for collages and Anthony’s are some of the best. His Instagram feed is one of my all-time favorites so I was delighted when I heard that Aint-Bad was putting these images into a book. These pictures are whimsical and colorful and tons of fun. You will love them. You can read more about these works on the Humble Arts blog.
Nicolas Blandin, In the Country of Stones (Another Place Press)
This book appears to be sold out but Another Place Press is one to watch, so I wanted to mention it anyway. The road journey is a well-worn genre but I always love it. (Yes, I was a Jack Kerouac disciple in my 20s.) Niko’s images catalog a trip he took along the Armenian backroads in 2013 and the work is quiet and beautiful. Great handfeel too. Find a copy if you can.
Matt Eich, I Love You, I’m Leaving (Ceiba Editions)
I’ve been following Matt’s photojournalism for many years so I was intrigued when I learned that his latest project was a personal exploration of his home and family life — a definite shift in approach. I interviewed him about this work last summer and he talked a lot about photography as therapy. This book, I think, is the result of a lot of soul searching. Really lovely work.
Adam J. Long, Incline/Decline, (Archive Collective)
Adam’s images are the visual apotheosis of our national mood in the Trump Era. These pictures are drenched in ennui and despair which is certainly how I’ve been feeling since the election. I’m a fan of small books and this one is handsomely designed. The first publication to come out of the Kansas City-based Archive Collective. Looking forward to seeing more from this group.
Jonah Samson, Yes Yes We’re Magicians (Figure 1 Publishing)
The magic of found photography: Everything is a mystery. Jonah’s book is the proverbial riddle wrapped in an enigma. Namely, what the hell is happening here? A loosely-organized collection of vernacular photographs acquired on eBay, Yes Yes is a mind-bending stroll through our photographic unconscious. If you’re into weird, wacky pictures, this one delivers in spades.
Sage Sohier, Americans Seen (Nazraeli Press)
These pictures are old-school (they were made between 1979–1986) and Sage reminds us in her introduction what it was like “In that pre-digital and less paranoid era” to make pictures of strangers in the street. This is a beautiful book — elegantly designed, sumptuously printed, and perfectly produced which is exactly what I’d expect from Nazraeli.
Jeff Rich, Watershed: The Tennessee River (Fall Line Press)
This one’s a powerful, photo-based treatise on the environment. And in an era where the EPA is dismantling regulations at an alarming clip, we’d benefit from more imagemakers telling visual stories about natural resource impact. Jeff’s is an important book that looks at the past, present, and future of this American waterway and continues his years-long exploration of the way we change the world around us. Another gem from Fall Line Press.
Various Artists, A Place Both Wonderful and Strange (Fuego Books)
I was skeptical when I heard about this book’s Kickstarter campaign and pleasantly surprised when I experienced the finished work in person. The concept is simple: Fuego Books’ latest anthologizes images inspired by David Lynch’s seminal television series, Twin Peaks. Pictures from twelve artists are paired with their reflections on this great American auteur and the results are spooky and surprising. The perfect follow up to this year’s Showtime revival.
Nathan Pearce, Midwest Dirt (Halfmoon Projects)
Love the way he sees! Nathan’s newest looks at the place I call home in all its bleak and beautiful glory. Understanding these images doesn’t require a Midwest upbringing but it certainly amplifies their resonance if you know how people live in this part of the world. This one’s proof that low-fi books can still pack a punch. If you don’t already, check him out on Instagram.
Bryan Schutmaat, Good Goddamn (Trespasser)
Bryan’s book gives you little to go on and yet, it’s all you need to know: “Good Goddamn is a short photobook about a man from rural Texas and his last few days of freedom before going to prison.” Goddamn is the first publication from the Trespasser imprint and it goes to show how much story you can tell between the pictures in your pages. A haunting piece of work.
Lucas Foglia, Human Nature (Nazraeli Press)
“I realized that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on Earth unaltered by people.” Lucas’ book opens with this indelible truth: humans have changed the planet and not for the better. There’s lots to look at here: green roofs on fast food restaurants, forestry clear cuts, studies of cognition in the wild. It’s probably just me but these images make me sad.
Mike Slack, The Transverse Path (The Ice Plant)
I like it when I look at pictures and they don’t make sense. What I mean is, pictures don’t need to mean anything. They can just…Be. Mike’s images are like that: slices of reality that remind us that photographs are everywhere if you know how to look. And this guy can SEE! Like the best books, it’s beautifully bound and fun to hold. One of my favorites from 2017.
Niall McDiarmid, Town to Town (RRB PhotoBooks)
Green eyes, pink hair, blue suede shoes — this book is all about the details and each of them is rendered exquisitely in dazzling color. Like so many photographers, I discovered Niall on Instagram and shortly thereafter got my hands on a copy of his previous book, Via Vauxhall. That one blew me away and this one is more of the same. He’s a sensitive photographer and one of our greatest portraitists. This is lovely, lovely work.
📚 I’d love more people to see these books — Please, share this post with photography friends who’d enjoy it. Thanks for looking! -AA