I put together a list of five of my favorite photo books from 2018. These are books that I keep coming back to week after week, or that I’ve found to be inspiring or intriguing. Each book has a short explanation of what I like about the book. I didn’t hit some of the bigger titles, simply because a few of the biggest books that have come out this year, i’ve only looked through and haven’t bought yet, or I’m waiting on delivery.
What I find so intriguing about this book is the way that Geert Goiris examines a unbelievably complicated topic (peak oil consumption), with understated images. His photos convey political and ecological implications of our reliance on oil. He combines beautifully saturated images of industrials sites with black & white photos of natural landscapes. There is a quiet tension in this book. Like a the moment between spotting a jet plane flying overhead, and actually hearing the roaring engine. This is a pre-apocalyptic poem.
The concept and design of this book has me coming back to it time and time again. This is an exploration of place, both in the articulation of landscape and the psychological implications of location, presumably rural Illinois. In Tim Carpenter’s images, the reoccurring visual cue of the railroad, pulls the viewer toward the horizon. It leaves me wondering if we’re looking out towards the distance with a desire to leave; or looking back into the center with yearning to return. Is home just beyond what we can see, or are we peering out to a destination yet to be explored? Nathan Pearce’s images utilize blurred foregrounds combined with the tack sharp images of corn silos, grain bins and mountain ridges to create a rhythm that conveys travel via rail. Once again, the viewer is left to decide, are we returning to or leaving from the location being examined in this collaborative body of work. The book is bound in such a way, that allows the viewer to simply flip the book over when finishing one artist’s sequence and thereby dive right into the other artist’s sequence. This alludes to the back and forth of leaving from and returning back to home.
This book is haunting! It combines visual, visceral and tactile sensations. The book comes packaged in a cardboard envelope with an embossed title and accompanied by an excerpt from People In Hell Just Need Water (written by Annie Proulx) printed on receipt paper. The artist’s name and edition are stamped and numbered directly onto the envelope. The use of the materials conveys a feeling of something handmade and sinister, before even viewing the first image. Inside the envelope, the reader finds what appears to be a riso printed zine with sewn binding. Throughout the book, Hausthor take the viewer on a dark trip through the forests of Maine. We see images of dead deer, over turned cars, dislodged root balls and portraits of ghostly figures. I love this book for the feelings of menace and mystery it conveys. Like the best folklore, the reader is left to determine what is fiction and what is fact.
This book is captivating and heavy, not in physical weight but in its emotional and intellectual weight. Zora Murff utilizes the traditions of American documentary photography in a way that is subversive and intriguing. Each photo could stand on it own, with impeccable composition and romantic golden light. As the reader spends time with this book; however, it’s unmistakable that Murff has used these techniques to document a topic that is often exacerbated by the shortcomings of fine art documentary photography. The artist presents the black community of North Omaha in a humanistic and caring manner, and at the same time references the systemic implementation of redlining and economic segregation. I find myself reading and re-reading this book to be reminded that harsh truths can be conveyed in beautiful ways.
Do you know that feeling, where you wake from a dream, and as you’re trying to articulate what you just experienced it all starts falling away? The things that were familiar become twisted and strange. The feelings of comfort mix with the feelings of concern. That’s what its like to read this book, and that’s why I keep returning to it. I read this book as psychological journey into the dark corners of your own subconscious. The sequencing combines black and white with color imagery in a way that has me wondering if the color photos represent moments of clarity or fantasy. I flip through the pages and find myself pausing on the photographs that have triggered a fleeting memory or passing thought; however, with each subsequent reading the photos that trigger that experience have changed. I like to read this book when i’m already feeling mentally saturated. It provides me with the opportunity to escape inward and to return with renewed curiosity.
Jake Reinhart is a photographer from Pittsburgh, PA. Deadbeat Club released his zine "Where The Land Gives Way" last year and it quickly sold out. We will do more someday soon. Jake likes long walks in the woods, and drinking tall boys.