Photobooks of 2022: Tom Booth-Woodger

Flipping the Bird by Jaap Scheeren

Books I think can provide us with hope during what has been a pretty terrible year overall and there were so many new books made despite the state of the world. Here are some of my favourites. 

Flipping the Bird by Jaap Scheeren, Fw:Books

Funniest book of the year, the funniest book for a long long time - but yet it uses humour to reflect back the truth, like all good comedies. Do we really respect the landscape? Walking through well trodden paths, fetishising nature and thinking we are respecting it. Yet the animals in Jaap’s narrative say “Fuck you” - and very plainly tell us everything we try to ignore about our fickle relationship with nature. A real highlight of this year, for me.

Memoire Temporelle by Kalpesh Lathigra, self-published

“A through-the-looking-glass odyssey into what life could have been had my family not migrated from India to the UK via Africa over three generations.” Kalpesh’s book masters photography’s delicate ability to describe the world as it is whilst also show us what it could be all at the same time. It also manages to use text to add to the work and become part of the narrative, a rare thing. When I first saw this book I was worried about the size, but I quickly realised I was mistaken. It’s a beautiful object.

Chris Killip Retrospective, Thames & Hudson

Killip’s work is probably the best traditional “documentary' work to ever be made in the UK, his dedication to the medium as well as telling the stories of those he photographed was and is unmatched in my eyes and this retrospective book is what Killip deserved. It’s also one of the few catalogues with outstanding design, all thanks to Niall Sweeney. With great essay contributions from Ken Grant and Tracy Marshall. All these people shared in Killip’s passion during his lifetime, and have honoured him perfectly within this book. And the exhibition is outstanding too 

Sapper by Bharat Sikka, Fw:Books

One of the most striking investigations into family as well as the nature of photography, I think, since pictures from home. It’s clearly and distinctly different from Sultan’s book, but gathers up some of that self reflection and awareness which I think many books about family can miss out on and become too sentimental rather than universal. Confusing and distant but yet close and personal, for me this book is so finely balanced and could have easily drifted into abstraction but it leaves that little bit of wonder needed to keep me looking over and over.

Eindhovenseweg 56 by Ton Grote, Eriskay

Precise, factual and clinical but yet full of the personal and familial. Both types of history overlap in this curious little book which might seem cold on the surface but the more you return the more you get to know Grote’s family and their life through their possessions, without ever really seeing them. Technically this came out last year, but it was re-printed this year. Outstanding design by Jeremy Jansen, which truly brings the chaos of those histories into a perfect form.

Leaving One for Another by Olgaç Bozalp, Void

Olgaç manages to disrupt all different areas of photography. Ideas of documentary, fashion, political and personal all overlap in his photographs. Yet despite all these conflicting ideas and the heavy use of iconography in the work it manages to balance out into a universal and worldwide story of migration, displacement and our longing for home.

Each and Every Part in Between by Alina Frieske

Photography for the most part has endured the passing of time in a stoic way, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. For me Alina’s work, and this book, represents what proper evolution and evaluation of photography and its use and purpose in the modern world whilst still containing so much beauty. She manages to balance concept and form perfectly - investigating how we use imagery in the 21st century whilst also finding formal beauty. 

Tom is a designer and publisher based in London. Design has been his primary practice over the last two years and during this time he has designed, produced and printed over twenty publications. For him, book design is both collaboration and response: working together with artists to make a publication relies upon exhausting all possibilities in order to arrive at a best possible final form for the work to exist in. In 2020 he co-founded Besides Press, a photobook publishing company which celebrates projects created with an impulsive curiosity, without deliberation and often without an audience in mind. This includes spontaneous side projects, playful collaborations, and offbeat experiments.

Flipping the Bird by Jaap Scheeren, Fw:Books

Leaving One for Another by Olgaç Bozalp, Void

Leaving One for Another by Olgaç Bozalp, Void