The Best Photobooks of the Year: Martin Parr takes his pick

Photographer and photobook expert Martin Parr selects the best titles published this year

Olivier Laurent — 19 November 2013

Spread from Óscar Monzón's Karma published by RVB/DalpineDalston Anatomy, by Lorenzo Vitturi, published by SPBH, JibiJanaRasen Kaigan by Leiko Shiga, published by AkaakaPIGS, by Carlos Spottorno, published by RM Verlag/PhreeVagabond Photographer, by Sergio Larrain, published by Thames & Hudson

Vagabond Photographer

By Sergio Larrain, published by Thames & Hudson

What a total treat! Here we have all the classic iconic images from this wonderful photographer who died only last year. On top of that, Agnes Sire has dug up many unknown Larrains that are as good as the ones we know and love. To supplement all of this is a most elegant design from the excellent Xavier Barral with stunning printing. It doesn’t get much better than this.

PIGS

By Carlos Spottorno, published by RM Verlag/Phree

The ever enterprising RM Verlag publishers have come up with another gem here: PIGS, which stands for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, the near bankrupt European countries. The format, based on the graphics of The Economist, is used to house the images of the above countries that are starting to fray at the edges.

Ahlan! 

By Nuria Carrasco, Self-published

Another zine which echoes a magazine format, this time Hello! magazine. The subject is the struggle for the liberation of three generations of refugees in the Sahara desert. So we are invited to go in[side] various tents, meet families etc, all in the style of Hello!. This, together with some brilliant pastiche ads, makes one the best photographic statements of the year.

Karma

By Óscar Monzón, published by RVB/Dalpine

This glossy book with an accumulation of flash-snatched scenes of both people and cars taken from all angles weaves itself into a brilliant and somewhat disturbing narrative.

Dalston Anatomy 

By Lorenzo Vitturi, published by SPBH, JibiJana

This young Italian living in East London near the most culturally diverse market in London has produced a great book showing both his constructed still lifes of goods from the market and assorted head shots, both abstract and real. He also throws in some market scenes and the work is all housed in a delicious book with African material on the cover. A heady mix of colour, food and portraits that brilliantly depict Ridley Road Market.

Food

By Henk Wildschut, published by Post editions

This project, undertaken for the Rijksmuseum, examines the food industry with the rigour of a scientist analysing the strange processes that make up this industry. With the single word captions such as ‘scrubbing’ and ‘by-product’ it’s enough to put you off your dinner.

Rasen Kaigan

By Leiko Shiga, published by Akaaka

With a combination of re-staged and flashed scenes, Rasen Kaigan explores the territory of and harks back to the tsunami of recent times.

Supertourist

By Max Pam, published by Editions Bessard

Great production from Editions Bessard works perfectly with the writing and photography of Australia’s great roving tourist-cum-artist.

Silvermine

Edited by Thomas Sauvin, published by Amc Books

Thomas Sauvin, who has accumulated over two tons of negatives bought from a man on a Beijing trip and worked to categorise them into this set of five books. Topics include subjects such as TV and fridges.

Empire

By Jon Tonks, published by Dewi Lewis

This tour of the remaining British territories, many of which are godforsaken outposts in the Atlantic is a wonderful study of island life. A mixture of portraits and landscapes, together with the stories associated with the scenes, provide both an entertaining and rather melancholy take.

PIGS, by Carlos Spottorno, published by RM Verlag/Phree

Karma, by Óscar Monzón, published by RVB/Dalpine

 

Vagabond Photographer, by Sergio Larrain, published by Thames & Hudson

 

Rasen Kaigan by Leiko Shiga, published by Akaaka