Most of us have long ago got used to consuming content in digital format. This makes the impressions from viewing printed publications even brighter and more exciting. From tactile sensations to the smell of printing ink, books offer a special experience and pleasure. Especially when it comes to conceptual and spectacular albums with works by talented photographers. They allow us to be carried away to another place and time plunging into the atmosphere of the depicted scenes.
For those who love such imaginary journeys and aesthetically perfect visual content, we have curated a selection of the most interesting photography books of 2022. Here, you will find real hippie faces, modern natural alchemy, and pandemic snippets of time. Are you intrigued? Keep reading to learn more.
10 best photography books
1. “The Haight-Ashbury Portraits 1967–1968” by Elaine Mayes
Elaine Mayes is an American documentary photographer whose works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and many other cultural centers in the US. During the 1960’s she lived and worked in San Francisco’s lively Haight-Ashbury District, which was the birthplace of the hippie movement. This photo book includes more than 40 previously unpublished photos by Mayes featuring a non-trivial group portrait of representatives of this bright socio-cultural phenomenon.
2. “Relentless Courage: Ukraine and the World at War”
This photo book dedicated to the biggest war in Europe since the Second World War brings together the works of award-winning international photojournalists including Pulitzer Prize winners Carol Guzy and Lynsey Addario, award-winning photographers Justyna Mielnikiewicz, Paula Bronstein, Svet Jacqueline, and many other authors. The publication documents the consequences of the full-scale Russian invasion from the very beginning in February including the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol, which was captured by Ukrainian photographers Evgeniy Maloletka and Mstyslav Chernov. The photo book cover features a photo by the press officer of the Azov Regiment Dmitry Kozatsky taken on the territory of “Azovstal”. According to the authors, “Relentless Courage” reflects the humanity, perseverance, and determination of the Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom and independence.
3. “The American West” by Ernst Haas
Ernst Haas was one of the color photography innovators and his pictures were featured in such publications as Life and Vogue. Moreover, it is Haas’s works that the first solo exhibition of color photography in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1962 was dedicated to. Haas worked with Magnum Photos international photo agency, took part in filming and advertising campaign development for such well-known brands as Volkswagen and Marlboro. Haas is also the author of one the most successful photography books; his Studio Book “Creation” (1971) was sold in 350,000 copies. The “American West” album presents a poetic vision of America in images filled with scenic beauty and light.
4. “Sense” by Ann Hamilton
Creator Ann Hamilton has become famous for her large-scale multimedia installations. Her art projects are often born at the intersection of different genres, including photography, video, performance, and sculpture. In her works, the author reveals a wide range of topics related to the human being—from the body and gender to suffering and power. The “Sense” contains images that Hamilton has accumulated over many years. In these photos, she explores relationships between the animate and inanimate, the human being and the substance, the silent and the spoken. Hamilton’s book offers a truly sensual experience and gives real pleasure to aesthetes.
5. “Like A River” by Daniel Jack Lyons
Photographer Daniel Jack Lyons is a regular contributor to The New York Times, New Yorker, and Vogue Italia. As a social anthropologist, in his works, he explores the marginalized young people who live on the periphery of society or are forced to survive amid conflicts. Lyons finds heroes and subjects for his photographs both in the United States (in Los Angeles, New York) and abroad (in Mozambique, Ukraine, Poland). Lyons’ debut monograph, Like a River, results from his long-term work to visualize the social and political rights of Amazon’s under-represented communities. In this book, deep traditions of indigenous peoples and modern identity politics meet against the background of lush nature.
6. “Modern Alchemy” by Viviane Sassen & Emanuele Coccia
This project is the result of collaboration between two bright representatives of their fields: Dutch photographer Vivian Sassen who works in the fashion world and Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia who specializes in aesthetics. The publication features 80 photographs by Sassen inspired by nature and an essay by Coccia in which the author explores the unity of all sentient life. This way, “Modern Alchemy” combines two artistic movements in a dialogue about art and nature. This meditative photo book invites readers to rediscover the beauty of the Earth.
7. “The Unseen Saul Leiter”
Saul Leiter was one of the pioneers of street and color photography and his early photographs from the 1940s-1950s made a significant contribution to the development of the New York photography style. He built a successful fashion photographer career working with such publications as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and British Vogue. Saul Leiter’s works are held in many prestigious private and public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. “The Unseen Saul Leiter” is a collection of previously unpublished photographs illustrating New York street life in the author’s characteristic expressionist style.
8. “Périphérique” by Mohamed Bourouissa
The photo book Périphérique (from the name of the beltway that separates the Paris downtown and the suburbs) presents a long-term photo series by French photographer of Algerian origin Mohamed Bourouissa. In it, he staged scenes from the life of the Parisian suburbs, which are increasingly becoming home to large groups of immigrants. The author’s mission was to rethink the stereotypical image of suburbanites so often seen in the media. The project’s socially acute context and Bourouissa’s storytelling skills were highly appreciated at the 2022 Paris Photo-Aperture PhotoBook Awards where the publication won in the category PhotoBook of the Year.
9. “Kitchen Table Series” by Carrie Mae Weems
Carrie Mae Weems is an American artist and photographer who addresses serious issues of African Americans, including racism, sexism, politics, and personal identity in her work. It was the “Kitchen Table Series” project that made her widely popular. The central character of these pictures is Weems herself. According to the author, she used her own constructed image to rethink ideas about the role of traditions, the nature of the family, monogamy, relationships between people emphasizing important problems and ways to solve them. Weems was concerned that the black community and black women in particular were not represented in the media. So, she decided to tell about those who were deprived of their own voice.
10. “Scarti di Tempo” by Sandra Cattaneo Adorno
The award-winning Italian photographer Sandra Cattaneo Adorno has been a regular participant of Women Street Photographers since the first annual exhibition in 2018 and was a finalist in the 2019 National Geographic photo contest. Her photo book is full of intricate images that make viewers think about what they see. The author achieves such an effect by using reflections and combining several compositions at the same time. It’s interesting that this Adorno’s publication was inspired by the pandemic. According to the photographer, during that period time passed for her unusually, she felt as if fragments of time overlapped. To incarnate this experience Adorno began to create collages of unrelated images. They resulted in a series that blurs the line between reality and illusion.
To wrap up
Each photography book you pick up is a kind of invitation to the world of fantasies and feelings of creators who translate their experiences into the language of visual images. You can share it too. Moreover, you can rethink it and find inspiration for your own creative experiments. Perhaps, you will find a bright idea in one of the photo books, or viewing other people’s works will make you consider creating your own personal publication. Anyways, photo albums give a portion of motivation and aesthetic pleasure that will always come in handy for a creative person.
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