Photo Books to look out for

With Photo London running this weekend (19th to 22nd May) at Somerset House, some of the best and brightest in the photography world have descended on London. There’s a huge of events on around the city – you can look at the whole program here – but it’s the satellite exhibition at Tate Modern, Offprint, which looks to be the best option for the bookish of us. The Turbine Hall has been turned into a massive showcase for the best photo books from around the world. So we thought it was the perfect time for a round-up of some of the best recent and upcoming photography books in our range.

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Tulip by Celine Marchbank (Dewi Lewis)

From Dewi Lewis Publishing, this is one of the most anticipated and acclaimed photo books of the year. It’s Marchbank’s first book, but she comes with a long list of credentials, having been shortlisted for prestigious awards like The European Publishers Award For Photography, The Deutsche Bank Photography Award, The Lucie Foundation and the Emergentes DST International Photography Award.

Her work often focuses on small intimate moments and arrangements of objects that hint at more; for example, her images of lonely washing lines in Fife, Scotland. Tulip has the most intimate subject of all – the death of her mother in 2009 from cancer. She says that she wanted to avoid a “graphic portrayal” of her death, but instead capture the things that were uniquely hers, using her gift for focusing on details. Marchbank’s mother loved flowers, and she realised that “they were symbolic of what was happening – they represented happiness, love, kindness and generosity, but also isolation, decay, and finally death.” Quietly powerful and affecting.


Hand Jobs: Life As A Hand Model by Oli Kellett & Alex Holder (Hoxton Mini Press)

On a lighter note, we love this cute book of hand model portraits from indie publisher Hoxton Mini Press. It’s one of a series of poppy, contemporary books with a quirky twist – the other two are the determinedly odd Badly Repaired Cars and the retro Bubblegum. In terms of titles alone, though, Hand Jobs is the clear winner.  Following in the footsteps of cinematic classic Zoolander, it draws attention to the mundanely weird world of the hand model. Each of the 24 spreads features a head-and-shoulders portrait of the models alongside a shot of their disembodied hands holding, of course, a banana. As tongue-in-cheek as it is, the photos are visually striking and give an interesting insight into the personalities behind the perfect manicures.

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Cuba 1959 by Burt Glinn (Reel Art Press)

It was difficult to pick just one Reel Art Press title for this article. I’ve chosen Cuba 1959 mostly due to my mild obsession with all things Cuban. And just months after Obama paid a historic visit to the island, it’s a timely reminder of what all the fuss was about to begin with. Renowned documentary photographer Burt Glinn was at the right place at the right time to chronicle the unfolding of the Cuban Revolution. These photos give a rare window into Havana before, during and just after the Revolution. Intimate photos of Castro contrast with ordinary street scenes  – Glinn has extraordinary access to the heart of the revolt. There’s confusion, gunshots, Batista’s Secret Police round-ups, spontaneous gatherings on the street, returning revolutionaries and Castro’s triumphant entrance into Havana. While much of the book is in black and white, there are some rarely-seen colour images, and several previously unpublished shots, all in magnificent quality reproductions.

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Advanced Style: Older and Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen (powerHouse Books)

A follow up to the best-selling Advanced Style and Ari Seth Cohen’s popular blog for stylish older ladies – think The Sartorialist for pensioners who are cooler than you will ever, ever be.  His trademark sharp photography is accompanied by 10 essays written by the subjects themselves, distilling the wisdom and lifestyle secrets of some of Cohen’s favourite Advanced Style ladies. The book has globe-spanning scope,  with images from Los Angeles, London, Cape Town, Rome, Tokyo, Melbourne, New York, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Stockholm. There’s also a tie-in colouring book, which was fittingly ahead of the trend when it was published in 2013. This is just one of PowerHouses’ recent fashion books – see also our recent spotlight on their Bowie photo collection.

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Srey by Sotam (Dokument Press)

This one isn’t out until September but it looks like it’s going to be fascinating. “Srey” is the Cambodian word for girl and is often used as a prefix to girls’ first names. And it’s through girls’ eyes that we see the dark side of the economic miracle that is Cambodia. Living their lives on a water-logged landfill, we watch them struggle to grow up and build a life in the least favourable of circumstances. Girls beg on the streets, sell ice and collect rubbish, while young women work in bars and manicure shops, dreaming of starting their own businesses or finding a husband. The beautiful sepia-toned photographs from Swedish fashion photographer Sotarn brings the subjects to life while refusing to sentimentalise. In contradicting the Western fantasy of the Asian doll-woman, the book calls for a more inclusive feminism – one that treats women outside of politics and the boardroom as just as important and deserving of respect. Definitely one to look out for from Dokument Press.

Post by Clara

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