14 Best New Photobooks You Probably Haven’t Seen

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After looking through literally more than two hundred new photobooks published in 2013, here are the handful that stand out from the crowd for the editorial team at LensCulture.

The selection is quirky, subjective, untraditional, and probably not like many other lists of favorite photobooks out there. They range from super-large-format mainstream books to small hand-assembled artists books, from straightforward to obscure. But all of them are gems, in our opinion.

We hope you enjoy looking through this selection. Cheers!

— Jim Casper, Editor

Totally unique Manhattan skyline photos: Buildings Made of Sky

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Installation View: Buildings Made of Sky © Peter Wegner

“There are two Manhattans. One is a city of tall buildings; the other is a city of no buildings. This city begins where the architecture leaves off. It’s a city cast in the die of Manhattan, a perfect complement to the built city, a kind of anti-Manhattan. This parallel city has an architecture all its own. It is the architecture of air, the space defined by the edges of everything else, its map redrawn by pigeons and pedestrians, barricades and scaffolding, cranes, trucks, taxis. It’s the city we assume but cannot name. In this city, the buildings are made of sky. It’s the Manhattan that isn’t – without which there could be no Manhattan.” — Peter Wegner

See and read more in LensCulture.

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Detail View: Buildings Made of Sky © Peter Wegner

Nocturnal: Exploring deep into the wilderness of Nature, cocooned in an RV

Nocturnal-1 © Frank Hallam Day

From the new photobook, “Nocturnal” © Frank Hallam Day

 Nocturnal is a result of photographer Frank Hallam Day’s month-long journey through Florida. In his images, Day explores the relationship between man and the environment through the lens of the recreational vehicle (RV). These ultra-modern, high-tech, luxury homes on wheels, seemingly as anti-nature as could be, become confusingly entwined with the night-time jungle landscapes of Florida. Read more

 

Nocturnal-2 © Frank Hallam Day

From the new photobook, “Nocturnal” © Frank Hallam Day

Rainbow Transit: Nelson Mandela’s Vision Unrealized?

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“Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils…Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”

—Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

In 2011, South Africa replaced Brazil as the most unequal society in the world — the country with the widest gap between the poorest and richest individuals. Johannesburg, South Africa’s financial capital, has the most luxury German cars per square meter in the world. It seems that the country is no longer divided by race, but by wealth.

It is with these words in mind that I read photographer Per-Anders Petterson’s new book, Rainbow Transit. Over the past two decades, Pettersson has explored the country, the ‘Rainbow Nation’, questioning the complex realities of daily life. It turns out that democracy brought both rewards and new struggles: a soaring violent crime rate, disease, poverty and massive unemployment. Still, the country’s policies resulted in astonishing wealth for a new black elite, and saw the rapid emergence of a black middle class. The energy with which these so-called ‘black diamonds’ embraced capitalism was one of the most striking features of the transition. Their success occasioned a frenzied aspirational spirit amongst the poorer urban classes. Yet as wealth began concentrating in a few hands, the country’s initial burst of aspiration was smothered by a second decade of greed and disillusionment.

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Pettersson tries to represent this complex country as broadly as he can. He photographs whites-only Afrikaans communities, the bourgeois life of the ‘black diamonds’, poor, urban life in the country’s endless ‘townships‘, and even scenes from tradition-bound Xhosa tribespeople. The results document how the country has changed: self-isolated Afrikaaners now live hard-scrabble lives on the fringes of society. Meanwhile, aspiring blacks sip from martini glasses at the club while others, not so far away, scoop their dinners out of tin cans. There are moments of integration but these stand out because of their rarity rather than their prominence. And there are signs of economic progress but they are marked more by inequality than anything else.

And yet, all hope is not lost. As Barack Obama said at Mandela’s memorial service: “The questions we face today — how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war — these things do not have easy answers…[yet] Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done.”

—Alexander Strecker

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Editor’s Note: See more images from “Rainbow Transit” in our book reviews section.

Holy Cows: Photos from Hindu Festivals

Holy Cow © Toni Meneguzzo

 

From the series, Holy Cows © Toni Meneguzzo

“An anthropological research of the Hindu tradition to celebrate the harvest and bovine sacredness.

“Adorned with garlands of fresh flowers, with decorations of colourful shiny trinkets, the cows are prepared, and this is the most striking design element, painting their coat and horns with organic pigments that have specific references: the pink is used to reflect the color of the skin of Radharani, who is the companion of Krishna, the shepherd of the cows; the yellow of turmeric is the solar divinity that illuminates the world, and so on.”

— Toni Meneguzzo

See and read more in LensCulture.

The Reluctant Father: “Let’s not forget the baby-wipe warmer…”

The Reluctant Father © Philip ToledanoIt was like watching a wildlife documentary. She’d savage the nipple (rubber, or Carla) with a crazed animal ferocity, and then slip into a deep opiate slumber, mouth agape.

 

At the age of forty, photographer Phillip Toledano became a father. But as Toledano discovered in the minutes after his daughter was born, “There’s how you feel, and then there’s how you think you should feel…Was I overwhelmed in a tsunami of love? Not really.”

An honest and hilarious photobook about the realities of being a parent — The Reluctant Father. See and read more in our review.

The Reluctant Father 2 © Philip ToledanoLet’s not forget the baby industrial complex. A baby wipe warmer?

School dress codes: when religion is banned but all else seems fair game…

While France’s bans on head scarves and veils are on trial again, these portraits of teenage students throughout Europe capture common struggles to define one’s individuality through codes, labels and signs. Photographer Catherine Balet traveled to schools in Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona and Milan — exploring what passes for acceptable fashion for schools. See and read more in LensCulture.

 

Identity © Catherine BaletFrom the Identity series © Catherine Balet

“The Pigs” photobook: devastating, real, and not funny. Buy this book!

An award-winning photobook by Carlos Spottorno, The Pigs echoes the design and form of “The Economist” to deliver photoessays of real situations in four countries suffering in economic crisis in the EU: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain — referred to by the financial press with the disparaging acronym PIGS.

See 20 images and read the #LensCulture #BestPhotoBooks2013 review:

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Time & Motion in Still Photography #1

How can a single, static shot convey time? As psychologist and photography critic Halla Beloff wrote, ”A photograph is so absolutely still and yet it is produced from what is alive and lively. The most tranquil, lonely landscape is completely dynamic compared with a photograph of it.”

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From the series, North East South West © Hannah Guy

It is “the point at which the still appears to become a moving image” that drew British photographer Hannah Guy’s interest. By combining multiple exposures with a series of animations, Guy’s twinned projects entitled “Staccato” and “North South East West”, attempt to convey nature’s temporality through images. Guy’s multiple exposure photographs bring to mind both nature’s cyclical history and its more recent, disturbing disappearance. The ghost-like tree can be seen as a loss and a vision of the future. Guy’s animations provide a representation of the real-time “life” of nature through the paradoxical lens of a stitched together, black and white photographs. In her hypnotic videos, the trees come to life, while also remaining enclosed on our computer screens. Although each video is short, they feel endless at the same time.

Guy’s work is subtle and multi-faceted. By working in multiple, interrelated mediums, she raises new questions and contradictions, while bringing us towards some new vision of her subjects.

—Alexander Strecker

99+ Exhibitions, Festivals, and Fairs: Our Guide to Photography in Paris this Month

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#13 Corpuscule lamelleux © Carolle Bénitah. Showing at FotoFever. 

Year-round, Paris is one of the premiere cities in the world for photography. The city’s photographic history is rich and iconic and the contemporary scene is diverse and vibrant. But every November, photography really takes center stage. Anchored by Paris Photo, one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious photo fairs, the city’s offerings in the month of November have proliferated with each passing year. With at least 100 events happening over the next month, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you can make it to Paris, this brief guide will help you make the most of your trip. If you can’t, settle into your chair and enjoy our virtual tour of the city.

Fairs and Festivals
Paris Photo — Grand Palais, November 14-17

We already previewed this great event on LensCulture, but no list of photography events in Paris would be complete without mentioning Paris Photo. Check out our large selection of preview picks as an appetizer for this year’s largest ever event — 136 galleries and 28 photobook specialists.

LensCulture Fotofest Paris — Speos Photographic Institue, November 11-13

Now in its fourth year, LensCulture Fotofest Paris has established itself as a part of the city’s November events. If you didn’t sign up for a portfolio review, you can at least come to Meet the Artist Night where you’ll have the chance to see cutting-edge, largely undiscovered artists’ work. This year’s event will feature 90 artists coming from 36 countries. Save the date: Tuesday 12 November, 6:30-8:30 PM only.

Fotofever — Carousel de Louvre, November 15-17

While Paris Photo has taken over the Grand Palais, this new festival, now in its second year in Paris, has moved in to the Carousel de Louvre. This festival is geared towards younger, less well-known work and prides itself on its affordable prices and “fiery atmosphere”. If Paris Photo seems too overwhelming (or expensive), this could be a fun alternative.

PHQ4 — On the Quai Branly, September 17-November 17

This outdoor exhibition offers a unique view through the eyes and lenses of other lands and people, made by insiders, and offered on a world stage. With works from all corners of the globe, the show brings us rarely seen perspectives in photography.

Salon de Photo — Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, November 7-11

Alongside all of the art, this industry trade-show is a showcase for photographic innovations and the latest equipment and software used to make the final product. This year’s event will also feature artists’ talks, an award presentation, and a special photography exhibition on the work of Raymond Cauchetier.

St. Germain des Pres FestivalParticipating galleries in the 6th arrondissement, November 6-23

The third edition of the photo festival in Saint-Germain-des-Près. It will present a unique photographic journey around roughly forty places in the scenic sixth arrondissement of Paris, based on the theme ‘Visages et Corps’ (Faces and Bodies).

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A colony of chinstrap penguins, from the series “Genesis” © Sebastião Salgado. Showing at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie

Museum Exhibitions

Brassaï — Hotel de Ville, November 8 to March 8

“For the Love of Paris” is a show which tells the extraordinary story of passion — the passion that this great city has evoked in artists for the past century. Over the course of 50 years, Brassaï captured his inspirational new home and the lives of all the others who were drawn to the city. If you don’t have the time to explore Paris on your own, you can do worse than see it through this master photographer’s eyes and lens. The show is free, which is great, but expect a line.

Sebastião Salgado — Maison Européenne de la Photographie, September 25 to January 5

This blockbuster show, “Genesis”, brings together 245 prints from one of the most revered and popular photographers working today. This is the largest collection ever assembled of Salgado’s work. The exhibition is the quest for the origins of the world and stands as a tribute to our splendid, fragile world.

Erwin Blumenfeld — Jeu de Paume, October 15 to January 26 

Erwin Blumenfeld’s eclectic career spans decades and genres: fashion, photography, video, advertising, collage, montage and drawing. From satirical photomontages of Hitler to black and white nudes, Blumenfeld spent his lifetime pushing at the limits of every visual medium at his disposal.

Raymond Depardon — Grand Palais, November 14 to February 10

One of the great living French photographers, this exhibition focuses on the artist’s lesser appreciated color ouevre. The show, which is being held in the same building as Paris Photo, focuses on Depardon’s two great loves — the great outdoors and the solitude of cities.

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Boys Smoking © Mark Cohen. Showing at Le Bal.

Gallery Exhibitions
Davide MonteleoneChapelle des Beaux-arts de Paris, November 8 to December 4 

As the winner of the 4th annual Fondation Carmignac, Davide Monteleone received a 50,000 euro award to pursue a project in photojouranlism. His work took him to Chechnya and Monteleone returns with a piercing series, titled “Spasibo”.

Mark CohenLe Bal, September 27 to December 8

While many great artists have been drawn to the bright lights and promise of world cities like Paris, New York and London, American photographer Mark Cohen found himself continually drawn back to his hometown: Wilkes-Barres, Pennsylvania. In this humble setting, Cohen photographed for 40 years, developing a distinctive street photography language that rivals that of any masters from the genre.

 

We could continue to list more gallery exhibitions, but given these 99 suggestions on What do in Paris of photography exhibitions alone, we decided to leave the rest to you, our reader.

Share YOUR discoveries with all of us via TwitterFacebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., tagged with   #LensCulture   if you see any great photography in Paris this month. Happy viewing!

—Alexander Strecker