Ten (Or Twenty) of The Best Photobooks of 2012

As Photo-eye’s Best Books of 2012 is published online today, I thought I’d share my selections along with some others that nearly made it. Many of the books on my list were generously mailed to me by artists or publishers and, in turn, featured on this blog in the past, and some of the others are in the queue to be featured soon (keep an eye out). This process reminds me of what an exciting time it is for photobooks, with each year bringing forth new, powerful, and innovative projects. Lets be real… there are many, many more titles worth listing here.

Justin James Reed
Horses Think Press, 2012

The last remaining stock of ink made from fireflies was acquired for the making of this unique artist book, which without the use of a UV flashlight appears to be blank white pages. A witty concept, and a selection of images that’ll keep you wondering about the future.

Dive Dark Dream Slow
Melissa Catanese
The Ice Plant, 2012

Anonymous photographs culled from a personal archive and given new context—a magical, memorable sequence.

Looking for Love, 1996
Alec Soth
Kominek, 2012

Just when you least expect it, love comes along.

Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel
Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel

An important collection of work by one of the greatest collaborations in the history of photography.

In the Car With R.
Rafal Milach
Czytelnia Sztuki, 2012

Beautiful both as an object and a photographic exploration of place.

Elementary Calculus
J Carrier
MACK, 2012

A quiet reflection on the human desire to connect through the world of migrant workers living in Israel who rely on pay phones to talk to their loved ones back home. An understated book that is not to be overlooked.

Another Language
Marten Lange
MACK, 2012

In the words of Einstein, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

Executive Model
Ron Jude
Libraryman, 2012

Gettin’ down to business—a typology.

Die Son Sien Alles
Viviane Sassen
Libraryman, 2012

A playful, penetrating portrait of contemporary South Africa through the embellished interiors of Cape Town.

Imaginary Landscape No. 1
Hannah Whittaker
Blonde Art Books, 2012

Applying the structure of a seminal 1939 electroacoustic John Cage composition to a series of photographs. A clever first artist book.

Honorable Mentions

I found it difficult to select just ten, so in no particular order here are some others that caught my attention.

Asger Carlsen
Mörel Books, 2012

Brilliantly weird. Weirdly brilliant.

Stephen Gill
Nobody, 2012

Gill continues to push his photographic practice, and turns out a gorgeous series of artist books under his imprint delightfully named Nobody.

Retinal Shift
Mikhael Subotzky
Steidl, 2012

Perhaps one of the best retrospectives of the year.

A Natural Order
Lucas Foglia
Nazraeli, 2012

One of the best projects exploring this territory, and a luscious monograph to boot. Nice to see the zine included too.

American Portraits 1979-1989
Leon Borensztein
Nazraeli, 2012

An odd and touching portrait of America, with a nice edit by Todd Hido.

Life Size
Sam Falls
Karma, 2012

“Speed is stunted intuition.”

The Afronauts
Cristina De Middel
Self-published, 2012

An elegant object that successfully combines photography, drawing, letters, and archival imagery. Bound to make many top ten lists.

Anne Golaz
Kehrer Verlag, 2012

Dark beauty. A nice introduction to her work for me.

The Actor
John Gossage
Loosestrife Editions, 2012

With six or seven books (I lost count) to come out in the last year, it’s tough to choose but this one keeps me looking and gains depth with the dedication.

Cathedral Cars
Thomas Mailaender
RVB Books, 2012

Photographic studies of human persistence. Unintentional sculpture.


War Primer 2 [eBook]
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
MAPP Editions, 2012

A nice use of the eBook format to provide access to a great book from last year that otherwise may be difficult for many to experience. Download for FREE.

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