Photobooks of 2017: Ed Templeton
These are my favorite photo books of the year out of the ones I came into contact with. I fear there are other ones that may have made the list had I come across them in my bookstore browsing this year. These are all books I personally bought for my collection. These are the top 12 for me this year.
Jim Goldberg – The Last Son
An amazing book by one of my favorite artists. A perfect mix of personal an private photos, presented in a very hands-on cut-and-paste collage style which I love. The photos are great, and the story about growing up in New Haven Connecticut keeps it all together and moving.
Mike Mandel – People In Cars
Every photo in this book is amazing. Some of the most perfect photos I have ever seen in form and content. Such a great simple idea, photos of people in cars, made in a time that is now gone. These photos couldn’t be made today in quite this way, so it’s a fun trip down memory lane.
Susan Meiselas – Prince Street Girls & Mike Mandel – Boardwalk Minus Forty
These two books are part of the TBW subscription series. All 4 books published in this year’s series are great and highly recommended, but these two were my favorites. (the others are by the mutually amazing Bill Burke and Lee Friedlander)
Prince Street Girls is a collection of photos shot between 1976 and 1979 following a group of young girls around Prince and Mott streets in NYC and documenting their trials and tribulations and just watching them exist in the city. We already know Susan Meiselas is an epic photographer, and this is just further proof. Another great contribution to the world of documentary photography.
Boardwalk Minus Forty is really funny after you read the afterward by Mandel, who begrudgingly undertook this self-assigned documentary project shooting the famous Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA, to impress his photo teachers enough to gain his MFA from them after they were unimpressed by his more conceptual work. Makes me think it was hard to shoot a bad photo in the 70’s, and makes me sad that I was just a 2 year old when these photos were shot in 1974. The grass is always greener I guess. I’m glad Mr. Mandel was able to see the value in these photos after all this time, and was willing to publish them.
Jeffrey Stockbridge – Kensington Blues
This book shows the power of what photography can do. Stockbridge spent five years of documenting the lives and recording the stories of the people living on Kensington Street in Philadelphia using a 4×5 view camera, and an audio recorder. Beautiful street portraits along with transcribed stories and ephemeral notes and handwritten journal entries from his subjects.
Edward Grazda – Mean Streets, NYC 1970-1985
Kick-ass documentary street photography. Plain and simple. I’m so glad to see this kind of photography coming out and being published. To me, this type of photography is the lifeblood. It doesn’t fit over your couch or match your drapes, but it does take an unflinching look at the frentic energy and hum of the people living in and falling through the cracks of New York City at that time before it became a giant open air shopping mall.
Anders Petersen – Color Lehmitz
Basically the blown up proof sheets from the well known seminal series/book “Cafe Lehmitz.” The charm of this book is the simplicity and the amount of color, notes, stickers, and markings on these original proofs that make them artworks in their own right. This might even elevate this book over the original, which in comparison seems shackled by convention.
Yoshio Mizoguchi – Days of Smelling Like Grass
A beguiling mix of street photography and portraits of girls, also in the streets, revealing bits of their bodies, nothing garish or explicit. A very nice tone and feel. I feel like I’m really stepping into this photographers personal view of his home country. One of the coolest books I found on my recent time in Japan.
Tetsuo Kashiwada – Motel
A Japanese photographer took a trip to USA and photographed the people and surroundings of the cheap motels he stayed in. Beautiful color medium format photographs. A good mix of people and still life’s. Highly recommended.
Lola Paprocka and Pani Paul – Ed Forbis
Lola and Pani came across a man on their visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona who was formerly a Marlboro Man. After talking with him a while he invited them to come to his ranch and shoot photos of him with his horses. These are the results. Really cool body of work.
Yuta Fuchikami – On The Street 1
Beautiful street portraits in large format B&W of anyone who looked interesting to him, from the homeless, to the Trans community and everyone in between. Promising work.
Larry Fink – Fink on Warhol
Amazing body of work from a well known photographer. I sorta passed this book by a few times thinking it would just be photos of Warhol hanging around in his studio but I’m glad I finally gave it a real look because it goes far beyond what I imagined. Amazing street photography of NYC and also great photos that just happen to include appearances by some of the people in Warhol’s orbit at the time. Easily one of the best books of the year.
Ed Templeton is an artist and photographer based in Huntington Beach, California.
Images: Tetsuo Kashiwada – Motel, Susan Meiselas – Prince Street Girls.