This year 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 here 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.
Visiting Arles this year for the photo festival, I was able to see a selection of Curran Hatleberg’s work in a group exhibition. Just a week before I had quickly rifled through a copy at La Nouvelle Chambre Claire in Paris, and because this book is quite large, I decided to wait until I got home to get a copy from Arcana books in LA. But had I comprehended what a hot item this book was, I probably should have snatched up that first copy I saw! Luckily, Arcana saved me their last copy of the first edition which was already sold out. (Thank you!) Seeing his work in person was great, but the book form is a longer and deeper conversation, with multiple versions of similar scenes throughout that function like sequences taking the viewer on a walk through his collaborative experiences interacting with America.
In a word, Wow! I’ve been waiting to have a Stacy Kranitz book in my library for years and this does not disappoint. This is an overview of Stacy’s work with curated chapters highlighting her many projects and themes, with the overarching theme being Appalachia. As many have said, this easily could have been broken down into multiple separate books. Maybe in the future there will be extended-cut versions of some of her projects, but for now I’m very happy to have this.
I have always looked at classic photo books and wondered what the proof sheets looked like and wished I could see all the behind the scenes stuff that went into making it. We got that with the complete dissection of Robert Frank’s Americans a few years back. This re-release of Carnival Strippers comes with two books, the original book and the “Making Of” which gives an incredible look into the process of making this iconic book with plenty of proof sheets to inspect and outtakes, and copious notes and thoughts. I’ll be diving into this book often.
Amazingly designed book. The special edition came with a silkscreened stainless steel screw bound cover, which is heavy and scary to handle, if you drop it, kiss your floor (or your foot) goodbye. This is tough and unflinching but also collaborative work by Bruce Gilden, who in 2013 documented the people, workplaces and homes in England’s Midlands region. Love it or hate it, (I love it,) it is intense, compelling work.
This book by American photographer Tamara Reynolds is a series of portraits she took of several marginalized individuals who frequent the area around an old motel in her home city of Nashville, Tennessee. I had not heard of her before stumbling upon this book. But I will keep an eye out from now on.
And insiders look at life in Los Angeles’s sprawling East side. Portraits, landscapes, and details of daily life made throughout the 1990’s give an authentic look at this specific LA culture.
This one was technically published in 2021 but escaped my radar when I made last year's list. Photographs made between 1984 and 2020, giving a subjective, wistful, and often incisive personal journey through her time in the city of San Francisco. If you see a copy, get it!
Stream-of-consciousness style photography from the personal archive of a long time professional skateboarder, whose lifestyle takes him all over the world and puts him into contact with interesting people. Straddling both high and low culture. It freely flows from blurry intimate photos of mundane daily life, to celebrities, to documentary street photography all with a fleeting, immediate, point-and-shoot feel. Both in B&W and color it shows Dill’s wit and demonstrates his unique access into different cultural strata.
Photographs of Tokyo serve as a visual diary of Girard’s time in the city when he was young. Taken between 1976 and 1988, these images are a haunting and mysterious time capsule of a certain space and time. Mostly dripping with color, there is also a long section of B&W photos which have a more documentary feel. Love the vibe.
Mr. Wood is back on my list! I can’t seem to get enough of his particular brand of street photography. The core of this book is made up of outtakes from the “Photie Man” book he had released 10 years ago. Those photos that went unpublished until now have been re-edited to include more images and material from the past decade.
Ed Templeton is a photographer, painter, doodler, and skateboarder from Huntington Beach California. He has a new book coming out in March on Aperture, so buckle up.