Photobooks of 2019: Robin Titchener
Looking At The Overlooked by John Myers
This is the second volume in a trilogy forming a comprehensive overview of Myers’ work. Looking At The Overlooked concentrates on his unpopulated monochrome urban landscapes, which are not only a nostalgia filled slice of razor sharp social documentary, but also some of the most beautiful and interesting “uninteresting” photographs ever.
Ex-Voto by Alys Tomlinson
Ex-Voto is the result of Alys Tomlinson’s five year study of catholic pilgrims, and the humble offerings (Ex-Voto) left by them in tribute, as they conduct their sacred journeys. It is not only a stunning collection of portraits and landscapes, but also one of the most exquisitely executed collections of black and white photography that I have seen in ages.
Ghosts Are Real by Philip J Brittan
A colour rich kaleidoscopic assault on the senses. Ghosts Are Real is the result of a number of night time walks made by Brittan in a quest for solitude and introspection following the death of his mother. After the initial release of the small artist edition which sold out immediately, a larger run of 500 copies followed within months.
Slant by Aaron Schuman
Humorous, lyrical and somewhat sinister. Concerning itself with the topical subject of fake news, there is a lot more to this wonderful book than just a collection of (let’s face it ) laugh out loud funny headlines lifted from a local newspaper in the US town of Amherst Massachusetts, and placed alongside original images by Schuman. The photographs are combined with captions written in a poetical style known as “slant rhyme“, notably practiced by the late Emily Dickinson (herself a native of Amherst). A truly multifaceted creation.
Photographs by Jack Davison
Brilliant debut from the self taught Davison. An eclectic and dizzying display, which although at first may seem random and unconnected, in fact reveals flow and theme with repeated viewing.
(back)ground by Daichi Koda
One of three handmade publications from Koda this year. A delicate and moving portfolio of prints reproduced on fine Japanese paper, which paid tribute the memory of his late mother. A handmade edition of 36 (+ 2 artist’s proofs).
The Dark Figure by Amy Romer
At first glance this could almost be a colour version of John Myers’ monochrome town photographs. However the accompanying notes soon cast a darker shadow as they reveal that houses in these rather ordinary suburban neighbourhoods were all used in various forms of modern slavery. A terrifying, thought provoking collection from Romer, and another wonderful release from UK independent publisher Another Place, who are on a mission to produce affordable stimulating and well made photo books. Job done.
No Me Mires by Ana Maria Ferris
Venezuelan resident Ferris’, stark recreation of a terrifying personal ordeal, in which both she and her family were beaten and held at gunpoint whilst their house was ransacked and their possessions stolen. An unassuming little book which quickly reveals itself as simultaneously beautiful and terrifying.
Provincetown by Joel Meyerowitz
Meyerowitz’s collection of portraits, beautifully captured in the Cape Cod light, encapsulates the spirit of this welcoming and all inclusive small Massachusetts town. Long since accepted as a safe haven for the LGBT community, there is a tinge of sadness as Meyerowitz also captures the carefree innocence, of a pre-AIDS America. A book as warm and sunny as the place itself.
Carnival by Mark Steinmetz
Assignations, elephants and candy floss. The world of the carnival and the people who both run and patronise it are beautifully captured by Steinmetz in this near flawless photo book. Publishers Stanley/Barker have had a fabulous year, and I would have felt comfortable selecting any one of a number of their titles. This one just ticked ALL the boxes.
Plus one special mention
Wolka by Kamil Sleszynski
Hand produced in minuscule quantities (and I am told with no more to come), I felt a little guilty about including this, but the combination of photographs and prose painted such an unsettling, nay terrifying representation of life behind bars, that I felt it deserved to recognized for the amazing piece of work that it is. Maybe Kamil will change his mind and make more. If he does, do not hesitate.
Robin Titchener is a photobook collector of some thirty years. He is a regular contributor to both Photobookstore Magazine and The Od Review, as well as running his own review blog.
Images: top – Carnival by Mark Steinmetz, below – The Dark Figure by Amy Romer, Ex-Voto by Alys Tomlinson