Photobooks of 2017: Alec Soth

Photobooks of 2017: Alec Soth


Mary Frey – Reading Raymond Carver
Made in the late 1970’s while pregnant and starting a career in teaching, Frey depicts life and its consequences with piercing clarity. My favorite photobook of the year.


Ron Jude – Nausea
Revisiting his photographs of public schools from early 1990’s, Ron Jude expertly depicts what he calls “the psychological weight of the grind of the everyday.” This might sound miserable, but Jude’s book also suggests the ultimate tool for survival: the ability to see the world with fresh eyes.


Nicholas Muellner  – In Most Tides An Island
Muellner continues to expand the possibilities of photographic literature. With In Most Tides An Island, he achieves the nearly impossible: a poetic photobook in which the photographers own writing it essential.


Eric Ruby – Kamper Sweet Kamper
Looking for daily inspiration? Want to see you the humble glory around you with gratitude? If so, Eric Ruby’s 19-month calendar depicting his life in a cramped camper in bucolic Northern California is for you.


Magnum Analog Recovery
I have dozens of Magnum books on my shelves, but confess that I rarely look at them. Perhaps one or two inspired me when I first discovered photography, but they do little now to energize my practice. Magnum Analog Recovery is different. It contains the raw energy which gave life to Magnum and its photographers in the first place.


David Goldes – Electricities
At long last a beautifully produced book highlighting the virtuosic work of the scientist-cum-artist David Goldes. Gordon Parks said that “enthusiasm is the electricity of life.” David Goldes flips this notion upside-down and makes electricity from his enthusiasm.


Chikara Umihara – Whispering Hope
I don’t know about you, but I have America fatigue. I’m tired of looking at, thinking about, and attempting to empathize with middle America. But seen through the eyes of the Japanese photographer Chikara Umihara, I managed to rekindle a whisper of hope.


Robert Adams – Tenancy
The term ‘tenancy’ – the ‘temporary possession of what belongs to another’ – isn’t just a way to think about Adams’ lifelong project on the American West, it’s a way to understand the medium of photography. A profoundly wise and wistful book from the master.


Erik Van Der Weijde – This Is Not My Book
I bought this book for the publishing manifesto (#13: If the book is like a building, then the publisher’s catalog needs proper urban planning), but I kept returning to it for the essay on Prostititution, Art Books and Marketing (“Your clients will choose the packaging, most of the time, even instead of the real product, or service…Opinions on the actual work or fuck will be formed later.”)


Robert Lyons – Pictures from the Next Day
Known as a nomadic photographer working in far-flung lands, here Lyons depicts the splendor of a single life lived in a single home. An exquisitely crafted meditation on life’s big choices as well as its simple pleasures.


Alec Soth is a photographer born and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has published over twenty-five books including Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), NIAGARA (2006) Broken Manual (2010) and Songbook (2015).

Images: top – Mary Frey – Reading Raymond Carver, below – Chikara Umihara – Whispering Hope, Robert Adams – Tenancy