Photobooks of 2021: Alec Soth

Encampment Wyoming

Whatever You Say, Say Nothing by Gilles Peress, Steidl

My favorite photobooks tend to be modest. At nearly two thousand pages, I couldn’t imagine this book working. Singular and undeniable.

The San Quentin Project by Nigel Poor
, Aperture

Mixing creative serendipity with a social conscience, Nigel Poor’s work brings a fresh perspective not just to incarceration, but to the medium of photography.

I Can't Stand to See You Cry by Rahim Fortune, Loose Joints

Tender without being sentimental, Fortune’s understated book allows the viewer to wander around his world with curiosity and affection.

In Plain Air by Irina Rozovsky, Mack

Rozovsky’s eyes are like windshield wipers for our troubled times. Look at that light!

Magnumb by Arthur Jafa, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

I didn’t expect a catalogue for a video artist to be one of my favorite photobooks of the year. But the interviews, particularly the one with the photographer Jacob Holdt, taught me more about photography than anything I’ve read in a long time.

Encampment, Wyoming: Selections from Lora Webb Nichols Archive, FW:Books

To discover work as rich as Webb’s is a wonder, but to produce a book as perfect as Encampment, Wyoming is a miracle. 

Leaving and Waving by Deanna Dikeman, Chose Commune

I love books that take me into another world, but now and then one of them brings me home. I can’t untangle the power of Leaving and Waving from my own experience, but I’d still recommend it to anyone.  

Restraint & Desire by Ken Graves and Eva Lipman, TBW.

If I were to boil my favorite photobooks down to two key ingredients, they might be ‘restraint’ and ‘desire.’ Graves and Lipman serve these elements straight. Delicious.

Agata by Bieke Depoorter, Self-published

As much as I enjoyed reading the raw creative exchange between the photographer and her subject, I took even more pleasure watching my teenage daughter devour it. As she said, “I can’t wait for Season 2.”

Deana Lawson, Mack

The title of the cover photo is “Portal,” and what follows is a vast tunnel of essays and images. Tucked into a mere 144 pages, this book feels less like a museum catalog than the beginning of a legend. 


Alec Soth is a photographer living in Minnesota

Encampment, Wyoming: Selections from Lora Webb Nichols Archive
Restraint & Desire by Ken Graves and Eva Lipman
Deana Lawson

Restraint and Desire

Deana Lawson