5 Best Photography Books of 2013


By Rinko Kawauchi (Overture)

Kawauchi’s new book, whose title combines the Japanese characters for “heaven” and “earth”, is an exploration of the relationship between humanity and time. Large landscape images of a traditional technique of controlled burning agriculture follow one another, illustrating the destructive and rejuvenating qualities of fire. Calm, abstract images of distant constellations break up the flow of fiery images and allude to the role humanity plays in the world. Kawauchi’s beautiful and thought-provoking work requires repeated viewings to fully grasp what is being said, but it’s well worth the effort.


By Bryan Schutmaat (Silas Finch)

Schutmaat has spent the past several years documenting small mountainside towns in the American West, their inhabitants, and the effects of mining on them. Candid portraits of those who may or may not have given up on their dreams seemingly blend into landscapes of ruin and destruction. The book testifies to the power of color photography, mixed with a documentary aesthetic. Schutmaat paints this tragic story with dignity and beauty.


Edited by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin (MACK)

Operating under the direction of philosopher Adi Ophir’s idea that God reveals himself through catastrophe, Broomberg and Chanarin create their own bible that explores the visual representation of conflict and the relationship between faith and violence. As aggressive as it is provocative, this book functions as an object of art and a religious document. Regardless of one’s personal faith or lack thereof, there is something to learn and experience in these pages.


By John Cage, Hans Seeger and William Gedney (Little Brown Mushroom)

The subtlety of chance and the invitation to experiment unite this visual literary collaboration: impeccable design by Hans Seeger, stories by John Cage and images by William Gedney. The pages, simply folded into place, allow readers to delete and rearrange stories and images into new creations of their own imagination, turning endings into beginnings.


By Piergiorgio Casotti (Designed by 3/3; self-published)

Casotti’s journey takes us to East Greenland, where he photographed Inuit communities and explored why the region has the highest rate of child suicide in the world. Stark landscapes associated with teenagers facing boredom, isolation and violence unite this tragic story. Emotions run high watching these children fight against themselves and each other. His photos can be difficult and disconcerting, but their presentation of the universal story of life’s hardships is worth experiencing.

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