2022 has been an outrageous year for the release of photo books. Like most book collectors who’ve been at it a while, I’m out of space. Half of my W’s and all of my X, Y, & Z’s are now floating around on the dusty top of my bookshelves. So I need to be rather selective in deciding which books I’m going to squeeze into my shelves because they will inevitably push other ones out onto the “trade for store credit to get more books” pile. But even with this lack of space I still ended up with a big stack this year because so many of them were of such high quality that they were no-brainer, “purchase-on-sight” type of books. Because of this I decided to make two separate “top ten” lists. I did this by choosing two books instead of only one for every number from 1-10. These two books will cohabitate my top ten favorite books this year. One list I will share here with Photobookstore.co.uk and the other with Deadbeatclubpress.com
Side note: I have a few books on my list that claim 2021 in their colophon but were not on my list last year and they definitely would have or should have been. I’m not 100% sure if these books came out after I made last year‘s list or were just not on my radar until this year. So I have included them in the spirit of the loose guidelines of these year-end lists, which to me seem not about strict technicalities but rather a celebration of great books in hopes of putting them on more people's radar.
Frank Horvat 50 to 65, Editions de la Martiniere / Jeu de Paume
I came across this small Horvat exhibition in the Actes Sud bookstore in Arles, France. Of course I had heard of the late Frank Horvat before, and even have two of his other more recent books. But I was not fully aware of the scope and quality of his entire body of work. They had a copy of this book there and I was floored. He had street chops as well as fashion chops, with echoes of Robert Frank in the dreamy imperfectness and wistful honesty in his work. After viewing this book surveying his work, he has moved way up my personal rankings into one of my favorites of all time.
Some Say Ice by Alessandra Sanguinetti, Mack
Heavy-hitter of a book! Over the last 8 years, Sanguinetti has been periodically visiting the small town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and the result is this powerful body of work. An incisively observed portrait of a town and it’s inhabitants that speaks to a larger rumination on human nature. These images will haunt you.
Pickpocket by Daniel Arnold, Elara Editions
An incredibly strange and surprising book, densely packed with Arnold’s famous street photography which depicts, in my opinion, the true pulse of New York City at this particular moment. He’s our modern day Garry Winogrand, capturing incredible, off-kilter moments of life in the Big Apple. See the great review by Blake Andrews on Collector Daily for a more eloquent review: https://collectordaily.com/daniel-arnold-pickpocket/
Reproduction by Barry McGee, Aperture
For years I have told Barry that he was a great photographer and that there should be a book collecting his pictures, which are an integral part of his wider art practice. Well, apparently I wasn’t the only one, because here we are with a major monograph released by America’s premiere publisher of photography books. His eye for the messages written on the wall is unparalleled. Driving through the city with Barry is like watching a wise old riverboat captain navigating the ever-evolving Mississippi river. He sees and understands the vibrant conversations going on via graffiti, reacting to symbols that swoosh right over my head. The photos highlight the anomalies, the comedy, and the inadvertently beautiful abstract art that is the side effect of the ongoing battle between taggers and the public’s removal of said tags taking place on the outer surfaces of cities the world over. What at first glance might seem like random photos of walls will open up upon further inspection, inviting you into the mind and ethos of one of our greatest artists.
Meadowlark by Ian Bates, Deadbeat Club
As a child living in Corona, California on the edge of the Mojave desert the first bird call I ever learned to identify was the Meadowlark. This has nothing to do with Ian’s book, except that the name Meadowlark brings certain memories back to me, and in that way, there is a small connection in spirit to this work. This book is a body of astutely observed, beautiful, and clear color photographs exploring the American West. My favorite is a photo of a tree on fire, which, to me, invokes the biblical burning bush, but also the fact that on the next page he returned to photograph the charred skeletal aftermath of said tree.
Tokyo on the Brink of Sanity by Yoshio Mizoguchi, Sokyusha
This book captures Tokyo between the late 1980s and early 2010s in gritty street photos and unsettling portraits in grainy B&W. His work embodies the unabashed eroticism of Araki, and immediateness of Moriyama, (minus the extreme contrast) - but has forged a new path all his own. It’s a vision of Tokyo hard for a westerner to easily observe, because it goes beyond the surface into the underbelly of a city mostly inaccessible to outsiders. In this way I find this work very important.
Baldwin Lee by Baldwin Lee, Hunters Point Press
From 1983 to 1993 the Chinese American photographer who lived in Knoxville, Tennessee, went deeper into the American South to photograph Black Americans with a 4x5 view camera. The portraits and scenes he captured are incredibly clear, beautiful, and poignant. A student of Walker Evans, the influence is present in a subtle way. This is his first book, and so for many including myself, picking this book up and learning of Baldwin Lee and seeing this amazing work was an eye opening and rewarding experience.
Odesa by Yelena Yemchuk, GOST
What started off as a photographer wanting to document the faces of the young people going off to fight in Crimea after Russia annexed that region turned into an exploration of an entire city. Odessa was always a romantic city for Yemchuk who was born and raised in Kyiv and only visited Odessa for the first time in 2003. This is a colorful mix of portraits and landscapes exploring details and customs of this city and people. You can see the hopes and dreams for a better future on the faces in the pictures, putting a sad exclamation point on this work in light of what is happening right now.
End of the Line by John Free, Self
This is one of those books that may have come out in 2021, but I didn’t see it until after I made last year's list, and had I seen it, it may have been my number one. Even though all the trains I’ve ever been on I’ve essentially bought a ticket for, I’m a sucker for railroad and hobo lore, the romance of the train yards, the graffiti, and all that. This amazing time capsule depicts the railroad tramps of the Los Angeles freight yards 1974-1980 as the subtitle explains, along with text throughout that recollects stories and describes the characters he is shooting. This is a world very few people had access to, which makes this an invaluable document of a long gone era. The B&W 35mm photos are presented full frame with a key line and have a classic documentary feel to them, right up my alley.
Snow by Vanessa Winship, Deadbeat Club
Shot in Ohio between 2018 and 2020, the crisp yet muted photographs are considered and quiet and take a beat of meditation to melt into them. But when you do, that’s where they then unlock their rewards. A handsomely constructed book with rounded corners and various carefully selected paper stocks.
From “Blaue Horse" till Now Days 1965-2022 by Boris Mikhailov, Mörel
Cherry Blossom by Bruce Gilden, Thames & Hudson
Let Me Sow Love by Roger Richardson, Deadbeat Club
Somersault by Raymond Meeks, Mack
Moscou 1994 by Franck Pourcel, Le Bec en l'air
Ed Templeton (b.1972) is an American painter and photographer whose work reflects human behavior with emphasis on youth subcultures, religious affectation, and suburban conventions using a cinéma vérité approach embracing chance encounters. Templeton is a respected cult figure in the subculture of skateboarding, a two-time world-champion, and Skateboarding Hall of Fame inductee. He is best known for his photographic books and multimedia exhibitions. His work has been exhibited in museums worldwide including MOCA, Los Angeles, ICP, NYC, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Kunsthalle, Vienna, Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco. His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, SMAK Museum Belgium, Orange County Museum of Art, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht
Some Say Ice by Alessandra Sanguinetti
Odesa by Yelena Yemchuk