Monday, 1 December 2014

My December Best of List Starts Here!



It's list time. Rudi Thoemmes of Photobook Bristol got his list in early here  with some gorgeous books including Thomas Kläber's fantastic TANZ.

The BJP has a bunch of lists here.

And  Photo Eye, will have its list up later this month. I love lists but gosh, they do get obscurer by the year. There are small editions, handmade books, random books, gimmick books, books with words, books without words...

It's hard to keep track of it all at times. There are so many great looking books that most people never get to see, so for reviewers the listing becomes a very personal issue that connects to whether they favour poetic, emotional, intellectual, narrative or visual approaches. Or all of them.

Strangely enough there aren't that many books that get on the list that meet the visual impact criteria, that have a visual feast of images that reaches out and goes beyond photography to find a wider audience. You know these books when you show them to a non-photographic audience and they still have their noses in it thirty minutes later and they've pulled in a bunch of other people who are all struggling to have a look. There's one that really hits that spot this year that'll be on my Photoeye list. It's quite amazing that you can show it to people who are not 'interested' in photography and five minutes later they will have their heads up close searching right into the detail of every picture.

Emotion draws people in too, as does the ability to tell a story or make a point directly, to create empathy with the viewer, to make them go deeper into the world beyond the image to the people and places whose ghostly representations inhabit the photobook world.

Ultimately thought, there is something arbitrary about the choices we make. They go with our particular mood at a time, they are shaped by what we have seen recently - publish a book in March and you kind of get forgotten. This year there were so many great books that packed a punch in one way or another. So as the blog is coming to the end of it's winter run, I thought I could include these in my final year round up, a best of list. Another one. Why not?

So first up is Best Souvenir Shopping of 2014. I just took part in the wonderful Three Days in Tharoul workshop in Belgium (more of which later). If you're foreign like me (I'm a Hidden Migrant) and you come to England you might go home with a Big Ben statue, a Beatles t-shirt and a box of shortbread. Which is pretty good by anyone's reckoning.

Go to Belgium and what do you get? Beer, chocolate and Tintin. So the Best Stereotypical Gift Award of 2014 goes to Belgium!

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