Numerous incredible photography books where published this year and it was certainly not easy to make such a small selection. We decided on this list of 10 fine art photography books as well as some serious documentary tomes. You may recognize a few classics in here as well as be exposed to some great new talent. These books will not only be important pieces in your library, but they would also be good ideas for presents since we are approaching that time of year!
1 - Michael Light: Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain
Until 2008 Nevada was the fastest-growing state in America. But the recession stopped this urbanizing gallop in the Mojave Desert, and Las Vegas froze at exactly the point where its aspirational excesses were most baroque and unfettered. In this third Radius Books installment of noted photographer Michael Light's aerial survey of the inhabited West, the photographer eschews the glare of the Strip to hover intimately over the topography of America's most fevered residential dream: castles on the cheap, some half-built, some foreclosed, some hanging on surrounded by golf courses gone bankruptcy brown, some still waiting to spring from empty cul-de-sacs. Throughout, Light characteristically finds beauty and empathy amidst a visual vertigo of speculation, overreach, environmental delusion and ultimate geological grace. Janus-faced in design, one side of the book plumbs the surrealities of "Lake Las Vegas," a lifestyle resort comprised of 21 Mediterranean-themed communities built around a former sewage swamp. The other side of the book dissects nearby Black Mountain and the city's most exclusive-and empty -future community where a quarter billion dollars was spent on moving earth that has lain dormant for the past six years. Following the boom and bust history of the West itself, Light's photographs terrifyingly and poignantly show the extraction and habitation industries as two sides of the same coin.
2 - Eli Reed: A Long Walk Home
Award-winning documentary photographer Eli Reed's "long walk" has been a journey that has taken him from a low-income housing project in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, to Harvard University and to membership in the elite international photojournalists' collective, Magnum Photos. Reed's quest to understand "what it means to be a human being" has given him an extraordinary empathy with the people he photographs, whether they are Lost Boys in Sudan, the poor in America, or actors in Hollywood. In a photographic career spanning five decades, Reed has been the recipient of a World Understanding Award from POYi (Pictures of the Year International), Lucie Award for Achievement in Documentary, World Press Award, Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club Award, and a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard, as well as a runner-up for a Pulitzer Prize.
3 - Mary Ellen Mark: Tiny, Streetwise Revisited
In 1988, Mary Ellen Mark published a poignant document of a fiercely independent group of homeless and troubled youth living in Seattle as pimps, prostitutes, panhandlers and small-time drug dealers. Critically acclaimed, Streetwise introduced us to individuals who were not easily forgotten, including "Tiny" (Erin Blackwell)--a 13-year-old prostitute with dreams of a horse farm, diamonds and furs, and a baby of her own. Since meeting Tiny 30 years ago, Mark has continued to photograph her, creating what has become one of Mark's most significant and long-term projects. Now 43, Tiny has ten children and her life has unfolded in unexpected ways, which together speak to issues of poverty, class, race and addiction. This significantly expanded iteration of the classic monograph presents the iconic work of the first edition along with Mark's moving and intimate body of work on Tiny, most of which is previously unpublished. Texts and captions are drawn from conversations between Tiny and Mary Ellen Mark as well as Mark's husband, the filmmaker Martin Bell, who made the landmark film, Streetwise. Tiny, Streetwise Revisited provides a powerful education about one of the more complex sides of American life, as well as insight into the unique relationship sustained between artist and subject for over 30 years.
4 - Pieter Hugo: Kin
Pieter Hugo (born 1976) has garnered critical acclaim for his series of portraits and landscapes, each of which explores a facet of his native South Africa and neighboring African countries, including the film sets of Nigeria's Nollywood; toxic garbage dumps in Ghana; sites of mass executions in Rwanda; as well as albinos, the Hyena Men of Nigeria, honey collectors and garbage scavengers. Kin, a collection of images shot throughout South Africa over the past decade, focuses instead on the photographer's family, his community and himself. Writer John Mahoney characterizes it as the artist's first major work to focus exclusively on his personal experience in his native South Africa, a place defined by centuries of political, cultural and racial tensions and contradictions. Hugo describes his series as "an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being 'colonial driftwood.' South Africa is such a fractured, schizophrenic, wounded and problematic place ... How does one take responsibility for history, and to what extent should one try? How do you raise a family in such a conflicted society?" This work attempts to address these questions and reflect on the nature of conflicting personal and collective narratives.
5 - Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places: The Complete Works
Originally published in 1982, Stephen Shore's legendary Uncommon Places has influenced more than a generation of photographers. Shore was among the first artists to take color beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography, and his large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape inaugurated a vital photographic tradition. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works, published by Aperture in 2005, presented a definitive collection of the landmark series, and in the span of a decade has become a contemporary classic. Now, for this lushly produced reissue, the artist has added nearly 20 rediscovered images and a statement explaining what it means to expand a classic series. Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated vision of America via highway and camera. Approaching his subjects with cool objectivity, Shore retains precise systems of gestures in composition and light through which a hotel bedroom or a building on a side street assumes both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. An essay by critic and curator Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen and a conversation with Shore by writer Lynne Tillman examine his methodology and elucidate his roots in Pop and Conceptual art. The texts are illustrated with reproductions from Shore's earlier series American Surfaces and Amarillo: Tall in Texas.
6 - Toni Greaves: Radical Love
The sudden revelation of a powerful religious calling was an entirely unexpected event in the life of a college student named Lauren. But when it became clear to her that she had a spiritual vocation, she made the exceptional decision to dedicate her life to God. Drawing upon many visits to the cloistered religious community of Dominican nuns in Summit, New Jersey, photographer Toni Greaves has created a luminous body of work that follows the transformative journey by which Lauren became Sister Maria Teresa of the Sacred Heart. Presented in an exquisite photobook volume featuring a luxe cloth case, these meditative photographs capture the radical joy of a life dedicated unequivocally to love.
7 - Hellen van Meene: The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits
Over the last 20 years, Hellen van Meene has produced a complex body of work, offering a contemporary take on photographic portraiture. Characterized by her exquisite use of light, formal elegance and palpable psychological tension, her depictions of girls and boys on the cusp of adulthood demonstrate a clear aesthetic lineage to seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Van Meene captures the intimacy in the photographer-subject relationship, bringing out a sense of honesty and vulnerability from within her models and highlighting the beauty of imperfection. She carefully poses her subjects in their environments to emphasize their fragility, adding a palpable tension to the photographs. At the same time, she captures them at deeper, more introspective moments-masterfully moving between the staged nature of the portraits and the real experiences of her subjects. The combination of van Meene's instinctive understanding of the universality of adolescent experience and the highly intimate collaboration between photographer and model makes for powerful portraits that resonate long after viewing. This book brings together more than 250 images, for the most comprehensive presentation of the artist's work to date.
8 - David Leventi: Opera
In his series Opera, photographer David Leventi (born 1978)-whose work has been widely published in Time, The New York Times Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler and American Photography-captures the interiors of more than 40 opera houses spanning four centuries and four continents. Shot meticulously over five years, Opera presents a typology; each empty hall is seen from the place at center stage where the singers would stand. The large-format camera reveals these temples of music in their wealth of architectural detail and acoustic design; the body of work historically documents landmarks that serve as symbols of their nations' wealth and grandeur, their dedication to the promotion of the arts and to bringing communities together. With its unique concept-the opera house as a lens for cultural survey, a unifying force and tradition across continents-the collection serves as a beautiful tribute to opera.
9 - Paolo Pellegrin & Alex Majoli: Congo
In this sumptuously printed, large-format publication, distinguished Magnum photographers Paolo Pellegrin (born 1964) and Alex Majoli (born 1971) present a collaborative document of the Congo and its people. Bringing together the best of each photographer's personal styles as well as experimental forays into abstraction and collage, this volume captures what Alain Mabanckou describes as a full range of the landscape, "from urban scenes to great forests and back, reflecting the way it is in most African societies today." With no captions or individual photo credits, the densely printed images--presented on full-bleed pages, as gatefolds or as double-spread gatefolds--become wholly immersive. The outcome is a profound study of the Congo, and the resulting object exemplifies the expressive possibilities of contemporary documentary photography. Proceeds of the sale of this book go to Lynx for Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to cultural development programs.
10 - Hiroshi Sugimoto: Seascapes
For more than 30 years, Hiroshi Sugimoto has traveled the world photographing its seas, producing an extended meditation on the passage of time and the natural history of the earth reduced to its most basic, primordial substances: water and air. Always capturing the sea at a moment of absolute tranquility, Sugimoto has composed all the photographs identically, with the horizon line precisely bifurcating each image. The repetition of this strict format reveals the uniqueness of each meeting of sea and sky, with the horizon never appearing exactly the same way twice. The photographs are romantic yet absolutely rigorous, apparently universal but exceedingly specific. The second in a series of luxurious, beautifully produced volumes each focused on specific bodies of Sugimoto's work, Seascapes presents the complete series of more than 200 Seascapes for the first time in one publication. Some of the photographs included have never before been reproduced.