At the end of the year, we traditionally review new photobook releases over the past twelve months and share a selection of the most interesting publications with you. They can fascinate, inspire, surprise, and evoke the most contradictory emotions, but will hardly leave you feeling indifferent. From stories of love and betrayal to photographic sketches of life amidst war, these timeless themes inspire creative pursuits. The results of these pursuits are compiled in our list.
10 most exciting photography books of 2023
1. Comprehensive by Nick Waplington
Nick Waplington is an award-winning British-American artist and photographer whose works are exhibited in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Australia, and many other collections worldwide. He became known for his Living Room (1991) series dedicated to the everyday life of English workers in the 1980s. The new publication is a retrospective of Wappington’s 40-year career span. The book includes previously unpublished images and offers a new perspective on the author’s artistic approach, “from the chaos, violence, and euphoria of riots, protests, and free parties to the surreal, hypnotic quiet of the large-format landscapes.”
2. 2023 by Cindy Sherman
Cindy Sherman is one of the most influential representatives working in the genre of staged photography. She is a member of the so-called “pictures generation”, a group of American artists who came of age in the early 1970s and were distinguished by their critical analysis of media culture and the exploration of its role in art. In her new photography book, Sherman continues her experiments in the genre of portraiture. In 36 photographs, she collages parts of her own face to construct identities of different people. The artist uses digital processing to convey her personality’s multilayered and dynamic nature.
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3. ODYSSEY by Christopher Anderson
ODYSSEY by award-winning photographer Christopher Anderson is poetry embodied in photography. The author invites viewers “on a transcendental voyage, evoking a Homeric tale, that calls us from the sea to the rocks, into a dreamscape where light is sculpted across rock formations and figures.” According to the author, he was taken by the making of the book, and in the process began to recognize the fable he had once read. The mystery of the unknown, fear of the adventure ahead, and longing all come together in Odyssey, a visual poem that gives true aesthetic pleasure and an experience.
4. What’s Ours by Myriam Boulos
Myriam Boulos is a Lebanese documentary photographer whose works have been published in Time, Vogue, and Vanity Fair. At the age of 16, Myriam began photographing in her native Beirut, and these shoots became her personal exploration and a way to “challenge and resist society.” The author documented the social upheavals that have rocked her country in recent years, including the political crisis and the August 2020 Beirut port bombings. In her debut photo book, the photographer continues to cover the revolution in Lebanon, offering viewers a glimpse of people’s lives in turbulent times in all their diversity, from romantic moments to poignant scenes.
5. A Retrospective by Daido Moriyama
Daido Moriyama is one of the most prominent Japanese photographers of recent decades. He is best known for his street photography, capturing post-war Tokyo streets in a distinctive manner characterized by spontaneity, high contrast, and blur. “Retrospective” includes 190 works by the artist created over more than half a century: from early editorial photographs of the mid-1960s to self-reflective photos from the 1990s and photographic explorations of cities.
6. Another love story by Karla Hiraldo Voleau
Every artist reveals themself in their own way. Some convey their feelings through the language of artistic metaphors and symbols, while others openly share their own experiences with the audience. The “Another Love Story” photo project by French-Colombian photographer Karla Hiraldo Voleau is an example of such an intimate confession. Designed to be an ode to love, it was meant to reveal all the beauty and depth of the feelings between the author and her partner. But when Karla found out that her loved one was leading a double life and had another woman, the project took on a completely different perspective. She combined original photos and staged performances with an actor to show how love shifts from initial infatuation and passion to ultimate alienation. For the author, this photo story became a way to live through the trauma and find her voice again.
7. Dizionario Vol.1 (“The Dictionary Vol.1”) by Luca Massaro
The works of Italian artist Luca Massaro were born at the intersection of photography and words. He explores “the invisible space that separates an image from its caption.” The Dictionary is a long-term project: every ten years, the author plans to publish a volume featuring around a thousand photos taken over the previous decade. But it’s not just about random photos; the conceptual idea is to build a visual dictionary where words are replaced by images of words mostly taken in the urban landscape. This visual-verbal archive looks like an eclectic mix of images, text, and special effects, through which the author explores the collective worldview and the role of graphic communication in it.
8. Between two rivers by An-My Lê
An-My Lê is a renowned American photographer of Vietnamese descent, a graduate of the Yale School of Art, and a professor at Bard College. Throughout her career, An-My has received numerous art awards and grants, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. The central theme in An-My’s work is warfare. The new photo book “Between Two Rivers” is actually a catalog of the author’s iconic works over thirty years. It features seven photo series, as well as samples of installations, textiles, and even films, where An-My explores the cycles of world history and conflicts, the problems of the diaspora, and the consequences of war. The two rivers in the photobook’s title, the Mekong in Vietnam and the Mississippi in the United States, appear in the photographer’s work starting from her earliest works to her most recent ones. In the book, the author juxtaposes two wars, two time periods, and two cultural landscapes.
9. The Drawer by Vince Aletti
This photo book stands out among others because its author is not a photographer. Vince Aletti is a renowned New York-based critic and curator. Back in the 1970s, he started collecting photographs printed in magazines and books. According to Aletti, in each new apartment, he would pick one wall and pin these photos all over it to make the space his own. His passion resulted in this book, which celebrates the beauty of photography and the power of the printed image. The book features 75 photo collages created from newspaper clippings, magazine spreads, advertisements, and other images that were memorable for the author. The compositions from The Drawer illustrate the diversity of collective and personal histories. This is a publication that was recognized as the photo book of the year at the PhotoBook Awards 2023.
10. Somewhere 2017–2023 by Sam Youkilis
Photographer and filmmaker Sam Yukilis has spent over six years building his Instagram community, which now has more than half a million followers. During this time, he traveled the world and captured everything he saw on his phone. Amid the dominance of travel content on social networks, Yukilis’ works stand out because they don’t have unrealistic post-processing. The author knows how to find beauty in ordinary things and skillfully uses visual storytelling. In his debut photo book, he addresses the universal theme of human experience. Behind the apparent lightness, each work hides a deep meaning that viewers have yet to unravel.
To wrap up
Each photo book is like an invitation to the wonderful world of an artist’s imagination. Such artistic journeys give new emotions, motivation, and ideas that can eventually be embodied in your own creative projects. So, we’re happy to share the most interesting publication releases of this year with you, as well as our selections of photo books from previous years. Find even more inspiration in The Best Photography Books of 2022 and 2021.
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