Some exceptional photography books were released this year. Oliver Atwell rounds up the best photobooks of 2014
Plenty of new offerings pass through our office at AP Towers, some good, some not-so-good, and some absolutely brilliant. Here are our selections for the best photobooks of 2014…
Uncommon Places: The Complete Works by Stephen Shore, Thames & Hudson, £39.95
The legacy of Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places cannot be overstated. While many cite William Eggleston as the pioneer of colour photography, Stephen Shore more than did his bit to take colour beyond the domain of advertising and fashion imagery. The subjects that formed the body of his work were no less influential: this updated edition features 15 previously unseen images and includes discussions with the artist, offering readers insight into what it means to produce – and update – such an enduring legacy.
Fictions by Filip Dujardin, Hatje Cantz, £35
Architecture and fiction need not be strangers to one another, and Fictions, a project that Ghent-based photographer Filip Dujardin has been working on since 2007, proves this beautifully. A closer look at the structures that dominate Dujardin’s work reveals something startling: they are impossible. Using a digital collage technique and a series of processed, edited and repurposed images of existing buildings around Ghent in Belgium, Dujardin has created a series of mind-bending structures that are astonishing. Others are simply defiant, with the most basic principles of the laws of physics brushed aside. Fictions is amusing and provoking and, above all, brilliant.
Photography Today by Mark Durden, Phaidon, £45
In this epic tome, writer, artist and lecturer Mark Durden presents a survey of contemporary art photography from the past 50 years – and has perhaps presented a volume that will enter photography-book lore. The 11 chapters focus on recurring and relevant subjects. It’s a structure that makes the navigation of such a fluctuating medium (in both theory and practice) all the more pleasing. Durden analyses 500 works from 150 photographers and breaks down why their images work and why these photographers have established themselves as vital, progressive artists. Photography Today is essential for those who are interested in where photography has been – and where it is going.
The Art of Fashion Photography by Patrick Remy, Prestel, £35
Fashion photography is a genre that, for many, can seem stuck in the work of past masters such as Cecil Beaton and Horst P Horst. What this book, compiled by Patrick Remy, attempts to do – brilliantly, it must be said – is bring the genre up to date and offer an overview of where fashion photography is now.
The genre is, arguably, one of the most subtly political forms of photography. Within its parameters we find photographers addressing gender issues, the psychology of advertising and the malleability of the human body. If you think that fashion photography is always about a model displaying a fancy garment, this book will make you think again. This is a highly recommended volume.
North Korea: Anonymous Country by Julia Leeb, teNeues, £65
In recent years, as an increasing number of official reports and first-hand stories are revealed, the secret state of North Korea has become a source of fascination for Western audiences. Many books are now available and many more photographers are entering the country’s borders to document the things they see. This latest volume from photojournalist Julia Leeb is certainly one of the most impressive. Leeb has successfully blended large-scale cultural events with quiet everyday scenes. As a result, we have a book that offers a relatively clear picture of life in North Korea. The large-scale nature of the book is crucial, particularly when it comes to the scenes of staggering architecture and massive synchronised dance spectacles. An impressive achievement.