Best photo books: May and June 2022

This month we look at a collection of COVID-19 portraits of mothers and their children, each captured through glass; a series of subtle B&W photos showing a heterogeneous Parisian district; a look at the history of portrait photography, from the daguerreotype to the selfie; a guide to mindful photography; monochrome photos of the highest peaks in the Alps; and the Joel Meyerowitz classic Cape Lightwhich is one of the most important picture books of the 20th century.

Related: Joel Meyerowitz on street photography

Lisa Sorgini, behind glass – 64 pages, hardcover (Librarian)

© Lisa Sorgini

Australian photographer Lisa Sorgini faced the COVID-19 lockdown like many other photographers, with her work interrupted and with limits on where she could go and what she could photograph. She decided to tackle the new constraint by taking photos of mothers and their children behind windows, to highlight the role of parenthood during a time when children could not go to school.

After sharing a single photo, she was contacted by the new yorker, who wanted to publish the series (which is now available as a book). The photos look like old Renaissance paintings, with the chiaroscuro of the rooms behind the windows, the reflections softening the faces and bodies, adding muted colors. It’s a moving reminder of what the lockdown meant for families around the world.

Thomas Bovine, Beautiful city – 100 pages, soft cover (Stanley Barker)

From Belleville by Thomas Boivin
©Thomas Boivin

These B&W photos of the Belleville district in Paris have the allure of classic French street photography, like that of Robert Doisneau. Thomas Boivin settled in this multicultural neighborhood in the northeast of Paris and has been photographing people there for more than ten years. He describes the area as “a mixture of beauty and decadence, moments of joy and sadness, the warm feeling of light and the bittersweet sensation one can feel walking around all day, looking eyes of a stranger”.

These subtle photos show the diversity of this district, but also freeze moments that seem out of time. Shot on film, these photos are weighted towards mid-grays, giving them an almost palpable softness.

Coverage of "Face time - A history of photographic portraiture"
© Philip Prodger

The portrait is probably the most common form of photography. We take pictures of our friends, family and ourselves. Portraits are used to document our lives, immortalize people and sell products. In this book, art historian Philip Prodger looks back on the history of the portrait, from the first Dageurrotypes to selfies. With over 250 photos of unknowns and celebrities, Prodger examines the history of the genre through photos of 19th century photographers, such as Hippolyte Bayard and Julia Margaret Cameron, well-known 20th century portrait painters such as Edward Weston, Lee Miller and Richard Avedon. , and today’s photographers including Newsha Tavakolian, Rineke Dijkstra and Zanele Muholi. The topics covered in the book range from anonymous to heads of state, actors and celebrities, proving the wide range of this genre which can be artistic, documentary or utilitarian.

David Ulrich, The conscious photographer – 208 pages, hardcover (Rocky Nook)

Coverage of "The conscious photographer"
©David Ulrich

Most practical photography books deal with the art of photography: apertures, focus and composition. But as photographers progress, they often want to find more meaning in their photography. David Ulrich, who worked as an assistant to Minor White, explains how to be more intentional when taking photos. He says, “Photography is many things: a way to interact more deeply with the world, a path to personal growth and transformation, a challenge to become more whole and mindful, a catalyst to stimulate creative expression, and a vehicle for insight. and the comprehension.”

Several dozen short essays, with titles like Adapt to the flow of time, The art of seeing, Embrace the paradoxand Creative intensity, discuss how to take meaningful photos. He invites the reader to photograph “with an inquisitive mind, open to new realizations that may come from the corner of the eye or from the depths of the mind”.

Thomas Crauwells, Above – 200 pages, hardcover (Hemeria)

"Above" by Thomas Crauwells.
© Thomas Crauwells

If you’ve ever spent time in the mountains at high altitudes, you know how spectacular rocky peaks above the treeline can be. Beaten by the wind, dusted with snow, these steep mountains change with the liking of the sun, offering a fascinating spectacle. It is also very difficult to get to the right places at the right time to photograph the peaks at their best.

Thomas Crauwels took thousands of photos in the Alps, and Above is a collection of those photos. This large-format book immerses you in these serene landscapes, many of which are difficult to see in person and require long hikes in harsh conditions. Reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ landscapes, these photos showcase the natural beauty of Europe’s highest peaks.

Joel Meyerowitz, Cape Light – 112 pages, hardcover (Aperture)

The cover of Joel Meyerowitz "Cape Light"
© Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz Cape Light, originally published in 1979, is one of the most influential photobooks of the 20th century. After doing black-and-white street photography, especially in New York, Meyerowitz moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and began photographing in color with an 8×10 camera. Not only was color not still considered appropriate for fine art photography, but Meyerewitz’s approach of slowing down the process with a cumbersome camera changed the way he worked.

In this photobook, time stands still as Meyerowitz’s serene and contemplative photos, rich in color, paint images of the sea, the beach, simple homes and shops, and the people he encounters. The book has influenced many photographers, including Alec Soth, who in a recent interview with PopPhoto share, “Cape Light had a huge influence on Sleep on the banks of the Mississippi especially. There’s a way of sequencing, from landscape to portrait, and then surprise images like this blurry image, which felt really fresh to me.


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