Just as Gerry Johansson approached the US in his book Amerika, his newest book, Ulan Bator, presents Johansson’s view of the streets of the capital of Mongolia with the same starkness. The photos are high contrast often devoid of any signs of life—plants or humans— aside from the traces of urban life and man-made objects.
This book is a document of the hidden life of one of the greatest photo historians, Beaumont Newhall. The recipes reproduced from Newhall’s weekly column, Epicure Corner, float off the page with the drop-shadow effect. The duotone plates— tipped in not at the top, but on the spine edge of the page— represent food imagery from many of Newhall’s contemporaries and friends including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Janet Russek, Ansel Adams, and Berenice Abbott.
Lavishly printed in tritone, Westward the Course of Empire is Mark Ruwedel’s twenty-five year study of the American West. The book is designed as a typological study dividing each “chapter” by the formation created by American’s tool of Manifest Destiny, the railroad, spreading across the country. The plate listing in the back feels like a Becher photograph.
Georges Braque, Henry Moore, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II, Albert Schweitzer, Audrey Hepburn, Martin Luther King and Ernest Hemingway, who graces the cover of this new book. I am not usually seduced by celebrity portraiture, but the rich tones in this book remain truthful to Karsh’s now nostalgic photos.
Often it is difficult to translate process into book format. Jungjin Lee’s prints are hand-coated on rice or mulberry paper that absorbs the emulsion and creates a richly saturated final piece-- deep and black. Aperture has created a book that feel true to her prints and the theme of the book. The photos in this sequence seem to flow from page to page as if the wind is moving through it.
This book contains a short and informative essay by Luc Sante describing baptism in various religious in the US and a CD with music and early sound recordings from baptismal sermons. It is a humble and beautiful book.
Gingerbread Monument is one of the most interestingly designed books of the year. The plates are varnished in a high gloss, the cover is debossed in gold with two different fonts, the plate listing in the back is on pink paper and the end papers are a faux-marbled paper stock that lends a touch of forced elegance to this contemporary book. The design pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable and is highly successful.
Despite the fact that I have selected two books with celebrity photography, I usually do not favor this genre. This book is just so seductive. It is just so glossy and colorful. I had to add to the list.
Melanie McWhorter was born and raised in upstate South Carolina. She is a regular contributor to the online magazines Fraction and photo-eye and maintains her own photo-related blog, melaniephotoblog.com. McWhorter manages photo-eye’s Book Division, curates exhibitions of local photographers in photo-eye Bookstore and organizes the monthly First Wednesday Salon. Her photography has recently been exhibited in Through the Lens: Creating Santa Fe and in The Sweet Escape at the Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL. She is also a co-founder of Finite Foto. McWhorter resides with her family in Santa Fe, NM.