Photobooks of 2023: Alys Tomlinson

From Where They Came by Katherine Turczan

With some photobook prices getting silly and restricted space at home, my exposure to recent releases has been limited, but here’s a selection of favourites:


From Where They Came by Katherine Turczan, Stanley/Barker

These portraits stopped me in my tracks. A new discovery for me, I was previously unaware of Katherine’s work. The book is right up my street – black and white Orthodox nuns and bucolic Eastern European countryside, shot on large format! Beautifully printed, the images leap from the pages and are even more pertinent when set against the current conflict in Ukraine.

Permissions by Emma Hardy, GOST Books

Permissions is a tender love letter to Emma’s family, with images around the home often diffused in soft, golden light. As the seasons change and the children get older, you feel the push and pull between quotidian moments and the realisation that time never stands still. It’s a brave and intimate book, packed with exquisite photography that expresses the fragility of family life. 

Subida al Cielo by Lua Ribeira, Dalpine

Multiple sketchbook entries offer a fascinating insight into Lua’s creative process and influences. The book brings together five bodies of work, with overlapping themes including religion, representation, and identity. Lua’s inventive work demands a lot from the viewer, but it’s these complexities that make the storytelling so compelling.

Kiss It by Abbie Trayler-Smith, GOST Books

This is an honest and sensitive body of work, made over many years in close collaboration with the main subject, Shannon. Told with great empathy, it’s a document of friendship and a masterclass in building trust with your subjects. Abbie’s teenage diary entries will make you laugh and weep.

Byker by Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen, Dewi Lewis

I consider Sirkka one of the best photographers of her generation. Endlessly inspiring and still fizzing with energy, she landed in Newcastle as a young, Finnish woman and immersed herself in Byker. From street parties to hairdressers and the local boozer, Sirkka caught unguarded moments of warmth and captured the strength and resilience of this close-knit community.

Pictures from the Garden, Dewi Lewis

I admit to bias here as I am part of this project. Six photographers made work in response to Paddy Summerfield’s incredibly moving series and book Mother and Father. The result is a coherent publication that moves from the interior of Paddy’s childhood home, where he still lives with his wife Patricia, to the expansive back garden. It’s always interesting to see how photographers respond to the same subject and the deftly edited book is testament to Paddy and Patricia’s generosity of spirit in opening their home to us all.

Book of the Road by Daniel Meadows, Bluecoat Press

Cleverly designed by Tom Booth Woodger to replicate the size and shape of on old AA road atlas, the book offers an insight into Daniel’s process and the political and social climate of Britain in the 1970s. I’m a big fan of Daniel Meadows and this book celebrates the 50th anniversary of his Free Photographic Omnibus, a highly original project where he travelled the length and breadth of England in a double decker bus, allowing photography to reach the everyday person on the street and creating cultural collaborations.

Sorry I Gave Birth I Disappeared But Now I’m Back by Andi Galdi Vinko, Trolley Books

I bought this for my sister soon after she had her first baby. She was in a chaotic fug, getting through each day but feeling like she had lost part of herself. Deserved winner of the Kraszna-Krausz Book Award, Andi tackles being a mother with humour and raw emotion, using her photography to de-bunk commons tropes and myths of motherhood. It’s refreshing to see this depicted with such candour.

Some new books I look forward to seeing: Laura Pannack - Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Guest Editions), Erinn Springer - Dormant Season (Charcoal Press) and Melissa Blauvelt - Brantville (Stanley/Barker).

Alys Tomlinson is a photographer based in London. She is most interested in the relationship between people and place, working on long-term projects that explore themes of environment, identity and belonging. Alys’s monograph ‘Ex-Voto’ was published by GOST Books in 2019. ‘Lost Summer’ was self-published in 2020 and her most recently book ‘Gli Isolani (The Islanders) was published by GOST Books in 2022. 


top - From Where They Came by Katherine Turczan
below - Subida al Cielo by Lua Ribeira, Dalpine

Subida al Cielo by Lua Ribeira, Dalpine