Photobooks of 2017: Rodrigo Orrantia

Photobooks of 2017: Rodrigo Orrantia


The Pigeon Photographer
The latest photobook by independent publisher Nicoló Degiorgis at Rorhof. An amazing selection of Julius G. Neubronner’s pigeon photography archive, with a very knowledgeable yet witty essay by Joan Fontcuberta.


Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb – Slant Rhymes
A beautiful book published by La Fabrica in Madrid. It is a conversation between two outstanding photographers, these ‘visual rhymes’ speak an intimate relationship nourished over more than 30 years.


Sanne de Wilde – Island of the Colorblind
This is one of the most interesting photography projects of the year. It is a very good translation of de Wilde’s exhibition, making the most of printmaking techniques and colour changing inks. This book presents both a true story and an exploration of human vision, and our perception of colour.


Veronique Rolland – 54°0’13.176″N 2°32’52.278″W
Behind this mysterious title lies a disciplined and impeccably photographed book about the geographical centre of the UK. Designed and published by outstanding independent duo Jane & Jeremy, this book is on my top list because of it’s potential to start a conversation on the convergence of cartography, landscape and the spirit of the British isles.


Hajime Kimura – Path In Between
I was instantly mesmerised by this photobook. The eerie images of Kimura meet the expert design and printing knowledge of the Gamberini brothers at L’Artiere, for a book that can become a rare jewel. In ‘Path In Between’ Kimura summons the inefable memories of his late father, presenting us with images that alternate between reality and half-dream.


Mahtab Hussain – You Get Me?
Nine years in the making, this is one of the most powerful photographic series on South Asian Muslim men living in contemporary Britain. It is shot with discipline but with utmost care and sensibility, really connecting with the sitters and understanding their complex multi-cultural identity.


Firecrackers – Female Photographers Now
Published by Thames and Hudson and edited by Fiona Rogers and Max Houghton, this has an outstanding selection of work by names like Chloe Dewe Mathews, Laura El-Tantawy, Mariela Sancari and Cemre Yesil. 


The Independent Air | The Anthology: We can stay here while we wait – Voices in the Anthropocene
This is one of the best books I’ve come across this year, connecting photography with poetic, literary, scientific and philosophical texts, around the theme of the Anthropocene. Edited and published by The Independent Air, an organisation focusing on environmental sustainability through photography and lens-based art workshops and residencies.


Brian Griffin’s POP is a portrait of an era. It made me remember my origins in photography, when you’d find the best work on record covers and sleeves. Music magazines were our place to seek amazing photography before the internet, that’s where I found most of my inspiration in those days. The images of this book defined a generation, and strongly influenced mine. Brian’s work is the most accurate visual interpretation of the sound and energy of the time,  his resourceful portraits making the most of the creative possibilities of photography. Go to page 195 if you want to see one of the best record covers of all time and probably one of my favourite photographs ever. This photobook is essential reference for a new generation of image makers, a true masterclass!


Nearly forgot this wonderful mysterious photobook. Upon moving to rural Sweden Stephen started to understand his new surroundings by having long walks and being quiet and observant. He soon noticed a seemingly quiet environment saw quite a lot of action at night time. So he set sensor cameras in different parts of the forest, understanding the habits of the local animals, in the chance of getting a glimpse into their secret world. The images in this book are just mesmerising , especially when you read what he wrote about the project : ‘It felt as if I was stepping out altogether, so that the subjects would orchestrate and perform and take on the role of author while at that moment I was likely to be sleeping. This was nature’s time to speak and let itself be felt and known.’


This last book does not entirely fit the category of latest publications, shot originally in 1986. Re-edited and released this year, it proves its timelessness and place as one of the key photobooks of the second half of the XX Century.

Masahisa Fukase – Ravens
This is perhaps one of the most famous works in the history of photobooks, a masterpiece in black and white photography, storytelling, but also a particular road to introspection, using the raven as the trope for a life lived in increasing introspection. The design and production by Mack are impeccable, doing justice to the original book and Fukase’s legacy. A definite must-have.


Rodrigo Orrantia is an independent photography curator and photobook publisher.


Images: top – Sanne De Wilde – Island of the Colorblind, below – Mahtab Hussain – You Get Me?, Hajime Kimura – Path In Between