Ed Templeton - Top 5 Photobooks

Ed Templeton - Top 5 Photobooks

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These are my favorite photo books of the year out of the ones I came into contact with. I fear there are other ones that may have made the list had I come across them in my bookstore browsing this year. These are all books I personally bought for my collection. These are the top 12 for me this year. -Ed Templeton



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1. The Last Son by Jim Goldberg / SuperLabo


Really a perfect photo book. This book pushes all my buttons. Great photography both personal and street, hand printed and collaged with writing and decorations. Goldberg makes great use of the ephemeral aspects of what makes analog photography so cool. It’s a personal account of growing up in New Haven, CT, presented as hand typed text with recollections from his youth, stories of his father and other family members. The photographs are pulled from all over. Vintage family photos mix in with private images he shot along with documentary photos of people in the streets. The tone and the variety of layouts makes this book a delight to look through, and the size is perfect for easy viewing. It’s hard to conceive that this book was made in late 2016, it feels like a classic already. The bar has been raised.


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2. People in Cars by Mike Mandel / Stanley Barker


What a wonderful time capsule! These photos are impossible to get in the modern world. Window tinting has changed, people’s attitudes have changed. Mr. Mandel stood on a corner shooting people driving by in cars. Looks like a 35mm lens to me, so to fill the frame he has to get up close and shoot into these people’s personal spaces. Most people smile or look quizzically at the photographer. Some flip a good natured “bird” and others stick out their hand to block the shot but it all seems to be done in a generally jovial manner. Many people seem to be excited to be the object of attention and strike a pose. I get so happy looking through this book. The cover shot (also included inside) is one of the best photos I’ve ever seen. It’s a perfect mix of form and content, a pack of gum and cigarettes in the foreground on the dashboard, the look of the woman, the necklace hanging from the rearview, the reflections of the gas stations on the driver side window. Damn, it’s amazing. And there’s 20 more photos operating on that high level out of 37 photos published in the book. I picture trying to get these photos today, the amount of times you’d be chased, beaten or possibly shot, and that’s if you could even see in through the tinted windows.


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3. Kensington Blues by Jeffrey Stockbridge / Self Published


Wow. A seriously heavy book that should be getting some attention. This is the kind of book that really shows the power of what photography can do when laid out in book form. Five years of documenting the lives and stories of the people on notorious Kensington Street in Philadelphia using a 4x5 view camera, and an audio recorder. The book is a beautiful, colorful, eye-opening and sad account of the hookers, Johns, dealers, addicts, homeless and hustlers stuck in this place. Along with transcribed stories are ephemeral notes and other handwritten journal entries from his subjects along with the portraits he shot of them. It’s a very humanizing book and you can see the deep empathy and sensitivity Mr. Stockbridge exhibited in making this work, giving a real voice to these people well beyond the typical devoid of context, silent pictures of the destitute.


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4. Mean Streets, NYC 1970-1985 by Edward Grazda / PowerHouse


Kick-ass documentary street photography. Plain and simple. I’m so glad to see this kind of photography coming out and being published. To me, this type of photography is the lifeblood. It doesn’t fit over your couch or match your drapes, but it does take an unflinching look at the frentic energy and hum of the people living in and falling through the cracks of New York City at that time before it became a giant open air shopping mall.



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5 and 6. Prince Street Girls by Susan Meiselas and Boardwalk Minus Forty by Mike Mandel / TBW Books


These two books are part of the TBW subscription series. All 4 books published in this year’s series are great and highly recommended, but these two were my favorites. (the others are by the mutually amazing Bill Burke and Lee Friedlander)


Prince Street Girls is a collection of photos shot between 1976 and 1979 following a group of young girls around Prince and Mott streets in NYC and documenting their trials and tribulations and just watching them exist in the city. We already know Susan Meiselas is an epic photographer, and this is just further proof. Another great contribution to the world of documentary photography. 


Boardwalk Minus Forty is really funny after you read the afterward by Mandel, who begrudgingly undertook this self-assigned documentary project shooting the famous Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA, to impress his photo teachers enough to gain his MFA from them after they were unimpressed by his more conceptual work. Makes me think it was hard to shoot a bad photo in the 70’s, and makes me sad that I was just a 2 year old when these photos were shot in 1974. The grass is always greener I guess. I’m glad Mr. Mandel was able to see the value in these photos after all this time, and was willing to publish them.


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7. Color Lehmitz by Anders Petersen / Cabeza de Chorlito


Basically the blown up proof sheets from the well known seminal series/book “Cafe Lehmitz.” The charm of this book is the simplicity and the amount of color, notes, stickers, and markings on these original proofs that make them artworks in their own right. This might even elevate this book over the original, which in comparison seems shackled by convention.


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8. Days of Smelling Like Grass by Yoshio Mizoguchi / NC Photo Books


A beguiling mix of street photography and portraits of girls, also in the streets, revealing bits of their bodies, nothing garish or explicit. A very nice tone and feel. I feel like I’m really stepping into this photographers personal view of his home country. One of the coolest books I found on my recent time in Japan.


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9. Motel by Tetsuo Kashiwada / Self Published


A Japanese photographer took a trip to USA and photographed the people and surroundings of the cheap motels he stayed in. Beautiful color medium format photographs. A good mix of people and still life’s. Highly recommended. 

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10. Ed Forbis by Lola Paprocka and Pani Paul / Palm Studio


Lola and Pani came across a man on their visit to the Grand Canyon in Arizona who was formerly a Marlboro Man. After talking with him a while he invited them to come to his ranch and shoot photos of him with his horses. These are the results. Really cool body of work.


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11. On The Street 1 by Yuta Fuchikami / Self Published


Beautiful street portraits in large format B&W of anyone who looked interesting to him, from the homeless, to the Trans community and everyone in between. Promising work.



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12. Fink on Warhol by Larry Fink / Damiani


Amazing body of work from a well known photographer. I sorta passed this book by a few times thinking it would just be photos of Warhol hanging around in his studio but I’m glad I finally gave it a real look because it goes far beyond what I imagined. Amazing street photography of NYC and also great photos that just happen to include appearances by some of the people in Warhol’s orbit at the time. Easily one of the best books of the year. 


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