This Week In Photography Books

- - Photography Books

by Jonathan Blaustein

If you’ve read any of my travelogue/art criticism articles on APE, you’re aware of my willingness to speak frankly and critically about photography on the wall. This feature, though, is a little different. Our goal is to highlight some cool and interesting books that have been recently released out into the wild. So consider anything you see below to be recommended for purchase.

Ed Panar’s “Same Difference” was recently released by Gottlund Verlag, in an edition of 100. It’s an orange and brown colored hardcover monograph, and the color scheme evokes a fall day in the Pocono mountains. (I believe the publisher and artist both have ties to PA.) I probably have a soft spot for this work, given that I shot many a similar image when I lived in San Francisco, back in the day. (Cracked sidewalks, geometric patterns on a Mission St Victorian.) It’s a long collection of seemingly random moments, shot in the seemingly random travels of the 21st Century hipster artist. Individually, they give the sense that anyone could have grabbed a shot here or there after a long night of boozing, or a long day of wandering around the neighborhood. (When you don’t have a real job.) Collectively, they draw one’s attention to the infinite varieties of abstraction and emotion embedded in the every day, and resonate that endorphin-rich feeling we all get, occasionally, when we feel like we’re living in a Wim Wenders movie. Each double-paged spread becomes a diptych, and the juxtapositions are thoughtful. “Same Difference” is a great example of why the book can become the work of art, as opposed to the individual image.
Bottom line: Well-seen

Visit Photo-Eye To Purchase “Same Difference”.


Rinko Kawauchi’s “Illuminance” is a hardcover monograph, by Aperture, that manages to glow in a manner suggested by the title. The spine is separated from the book, which is a little quirky, but the inside of the cover is more easily seen this way, and it introduces the trippy, day-glow, space-age palette that one finds within the plates. Nice touch. Not unlike Mr. Panar’s aforementioned book, “Illuminance” is a collection of seemingly disconnected images. But it differs distinctly, as these images are anything but random and dry. Page after page, the photographs scream “art,” with light, and color, dynamic compositions, and the impact of surprise. The kaleidoscopic pinks and purples, black cats and costume jewelry, desert wanderers and dead bugs, and of course the requisite light cascading through cherry blossoms. Ultimately, she builds a cohesive vision through the narrative. Symbols begin to repeat, and colors emphasize their meaning. The folks at photo-eye told me that Ms. Kawauchi has a huge following and her books always sell well. I can understand why.
Bottom line: Gorgeous.

Visit Photo-Eye To Purchase “Illuminance”.


Like the fall bible of a fashion magazine, “Der Rote Bulli”, published by NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, takes its time getting to the good stuff. Plates begin on page 93, and many of you will probably not bother reading the voluminous text that precedes it. I believe the gist is that the wave of German photography that took over the photo world found it’s inspiration in the work of Stephen Shore and his fellow “New Topo” colleagues. I’m guessing we already knew that. But what the sturdy hardcover offering lacks in innovation, it more than makes up with a terrific collection of high-level reproductions of so much important work. All the usual suspects are well-represented (Shore, the Bechers, Ruff, Struth, Gursky, Höfer, Esser), but there are some nice discoveries as well. Andi Brenner’s portraits of package-hugging, speedo-wearing swimmers set against the tackiest 70’s wallpaper you’ve ever seen…awesome. I’d say this is a must-have for anyone who loves the German aesthetic, (replete with ironic representations of the American West.)
Bottom line: Classic photographs, well-constructed

Visit Photo-Eye To Purchase “Der Rote Bulli”.

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There Are 10 Comments On This Article.

  1. You don’t have to be a celebrity to look like one. At JB Photography we make sure you get the picture that tells the story of the wonderful person you are. We specialize in engagement portraits, childrens pictures, family portraits, and senior portraits

  2. Some fine art photos are so “subtle” that by themselves, no one would give them a second look. They really need to be put in a context with other similarly subtle photos to make any sort of impact on the viewer. The limited edition photo book as art object gives: a) these photos a place to shine, and b) the photographer a way to make some money from them.

  3. I see we are now accepting advertising SPAM in the comments section. Nice job Shane… so ever not so subtle, shamefully shameless.

    Rob, love what I see here of “Der Rote Bulli”. Thanks for posting that one.

  4. This is pathetic. When photographers shoot to try to impress other photographers… Pix of a hamburger on a table? Some crap on a floor? A couple of dead meat pieces? For crap sake! These guys are 50 years late, at least.
    You guys are running in circles inside a bubble.
    Like I said: pathetic.

  5. Anything can be photographed. Technically. But should we really? I think photos has to have a kick and idea that represents the photographer. At least reps are looking for that in a photographer.

  6. scott Rex Ely

    JB , awesome writing.
    I love, “the photographs scream art” and “resonate that endorphin-rich feeling we all get, occasionally, when we feel like we’re living in a Wim Wenders movie.”
    You have my permission to double your pay.
    Happy Saturday.

  7. Artists are the weather vane of the civilization. They will create work (good or bad) that serves as a prediction for something new that is coming in the culture. Fifty years ago, simple and tacky “found object” photographs foreshadowed the rise of the cel-phone camera. Today, we live in the age of the cel-phone camera so similar types of photographs have lost their predictive power and have now become just common & ordinary.

    Any artistic movement that develops distinct characteristics can lead to the formation of a genre and possibly become an archetype. If a particular type of photography is associated with the fine arts for an extended period of time, then resemblances to it will often be mistaken for art long after the original movement has lost it’s validity. Archetypes exist outside of context which makes them great content for publishers of contemporary photography books. It’s important to understand that the characteristics used to associate a work with an artistic archetype are the same qualities that make the work derivative. This is why the content of many photography books will be viewed as art by some people while simultaneously perceived by others as out-of-date simulations.

    • Nice analysis. Nice writing. From this perspective, the vast majority of art is, by definition, derivative. I can’t say that I disagree.

      However, that does not necessarily diminish the significance of expression within a particular genre or archetype. In fact, the value of a particular piece of art is not based on whether it establishes a genre; rather, its value comes from the quality of the expression itself.

      Beatles or Stones?