Brief Photobook Reviews (Week 29, 2012)


Book Reviews, Photobooks


There is a new type of photography in town, which excites me as much as it exasperates me. Maybe it’s not even really new, maybe it’s a variant of something done earlier (not unlikely). Regardless, you have probably seen this type of photography: The simplest way to describe it is to say that it looks inwards, towards itself - and this is what excites and exasperates me at the same time. On the one hand, I enjoy seeing the playfulness, the forms, the subversion of the medium. On the other hand, the inherent navel-gazing bothers me. Needless to say, since this kind of photography seemingly offers so little to rub against1 this contradiction has me engage with it, and that I enjoy. Lodret Vandret just published Hired Hand, a wonderful selection for those interested in seeing more. Recommended. (more)


Jeff Downer’s [ver-seylz] is the result of a class on photobook making I taught at MassArt this past spring2. The book combines photographs and text, where the text itself acts photographically, by conjuring up mental images or scenes. Self-published, in a small edition (contact Jeff directly to buy a copy), [ver-seylz] is a great example of the opportunities now available to artists willing to experiment a little, while, at the same time, hoping to achieve fairly good production quality at an affordable price. The last image before the colophon makes me laugh every time I look at the book, and I can’t say that about many books. Get yourself a copy while they’re still available.


Nicolas DescottesCollisions also was self-published, albeit in a much larger edition. Featuring photographs taken at various disaster-training sites, the work follows a small tradition of such work. An unassuming, modest, yet smart and contemporary production, the book itself presents the photography nicely. I haven’t been able to find much about where to get the book, but the photographer’s website tells visitors to email, so I suppose that’s what you need to do if you’re interested.

This might a good opportunity to re-iterate that if you produce a photobook yourself, you also need to think about giving people an easy way to buy a copy (unless you don’t want to sell the book). This is why The Independent Photobook Blog was set up: It will spread the word and allow people to easily buy a copy.

1 I realize that this is slightly unfair. Large parts of contemporary photography offer very little to rub against. Opinions are currently not en vogue.

2 So obviously, this isn’t a review, but rather an endorsement.