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PHOTO-EYE BEST BOOKS 2018
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Rixon Reed's favorite book from 2018

Richard Mosse's The Castle surfaces among this year's incredibly rich sea of photobooks as an extraordinary tour-de-force that perfectly blends exquisite design with hauntingly rich content. Published by MACK, London, the book's intricate inclusion of multiple gatefolds, richly printed using silver ink on black paper, meshes perfectly with Mosse's unusual exploration of life in temporary refugee encampments along migration routes from Central Asia and the Middle East to Europe.

Mosse's techniques—thermal imaging ("Heat Maps") taken at night with telephoto lenses usually from high vantage points—create psychologically dark, visually rich images which record unsettling views of a hidden reality, poetically hinting at the unbelievable hardships that refugees endure. Not unlike the theme of Kafka's 1926 book of the same name, The Castle presents an unforgettably surreal, alienating environment where government bureaucracies have spoiled the hopes and dreams of its inhabitants, in this case of refugees seeking a better life.


Rixon Reed is the founder and director of photo-eye. He was seduced by the power of photobooks upon first seeing Larry Clark's Tulsa in 1973, while visiting a tiny Cooper Union bookstore in New York City. He later managed the Witkin Gallery book department before founding photo-eye in 1979 in Austin, Texas.

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Rixon Reed's favorite book from 2018

Michael Light's sumptuous book of abstractions, made from above the North American Great Basin, is brilliant in concept and execution. Here, the scars made on our earth's surface by humans act as a semi-permanent record of how we treat our planet.

As a book object, it's delightful. Light presents the work as a two-way book: one half is devoted to the dry Lake Bonneville, and when flipped over, the other, arid Lake Lahontan. The book's full-page bleeds are bound in such a way that one can easily dive into the pictures, giving one an exhilarating sense, akin to flying over the region close to its surface. It's also rich with poetry, illuminating text and historical detail — including a reproduction of the 1845 Fremont map inserted into a pocket in the middle of the book which divides the two sections.

Lake Lahontan | Lake Bonneville is the perfect marriage of design and content. It makes me as excited about the medium today as my time spent in New York in the 1970s, haunting bookstores every chance that I could get, looking for treasures like this one.


Rixon Reed is the founder and director of photo-eye. He was seduced by the power of photobooks upon first seeing Larry Clark's Tulsa in 1973, while visiting a tiny Cooper Union bookstore in New York City. He later managed the Witkin Gallery book department before founding photo-eye in 1979 in Austin, Texas.