Photobooks of 2019: Bryan Schutmaat
I’ve limited my selection to five titles because I’ve been a bit behind on photobooks this year. I wouldn’t call this a “top five” since there are a number of books from 2019 I haven’t yet seen, and which I suspect would make the list. I don’t know what these selections say about me. With all the havoc and hardship in the world at present, I’ve somehow highlighted books that steer clear from the political. Instead of commenting on the predicament we’re in, these titles are mostly about quiet reflection and life’s poetry.
The Pillar by Steven Gill
With a simple concept, Gill reveals the vibrancy of birdlife as it has never been seen before. These wonderful pictures made me feel as though I was allowed into a hidden world not meant for human eyes. I think it’s the year’s best.
Carnival by Mark Steinmetz
If Mark publishes a book in any given year, it’ll likely be on my list, and Carnival is no exception — Steinmetz doing Steinmetz things. (I haven’t seen Summer Camp yet.)
Kleinstadt by Ute & Werner Mahler
This book is an expertly crafted portrayal of small towns in Germany. Landscapes are mixed with portraits of rural youth, whose fate is open-ended. The compositions are complex yet very clear. The portraits are touching. Overall, this work is absolutely beautiful.
I Walk Toward the Sun Which Is Always Going Down by Alan Huck
Combining photography and writing is a difficult task, and Alan Huck does it exceedingly well. The book visually meanders through the city of Albuquerque and the text serves as somewhat of a cinematic voiceover coming from a narrator with an overactive brain. Both image and words are smart, stylish, and thought provoking — a fun read that may need numerous visits to fully appreciate.
Entrance to Our Valley by Jenia Fridlyand
Fridlyand has made a moving book filled great photos of pastoral tranquility. In the vein of Ray Meeks, the atmosphere she creates is affectionally observed, coming close to sentimentality yet riding the line to perfection.
Bryan Schutmaat is a photographer from Austin, TX whose work has been widely exhibited and published. His books included Grays the Mountain Sends, Islands of the Blest, and Good Goddamn.
Images: top – I Walk Toward The Sun Which Is Always Going Down by Alan Huck, below – Entrance to Our Valley by Jenia Fridlyand, Kleinstadt by Ute & Werner Mahler