First, if you by chance you happen across this post looking for another list of “Best PhotoBooks of 2011,” you might not recall reading my “Best of 2010” photobook post, which can be found here. Essentially after compiling a “Best of” list in 2009, as expected of someone who reviews photobooks, I was less than satisfied with my own results. Although I do intently read a lot of photobooks, I don’t think that I really have an opportunity to see the breath and scope of all of the photobooks that were published in 2011. And for the most part, I found something of interest in about every book I either looked at or reviewed, although there were a few I found challenging or really entertaining, but all for personal reasons.
So to save you some time following the link to “Best PhotoBooks for 2010 – Hopi Style“, let me briefly recap: in the Hopi Nation tradition of their annual race, everyone could enter and there are no limitations to age or sex. The wonderful part was that all who finished, regarding of when, were equal winners.
As to other published “Best of 2011” lists, I probably find them as interesting as most others, wondering which photobooks I missed and need to try to track down. Of particular interest was the recent post by Marc Feustel (author of the wonderful Eyecurious blog) who compiled a little analysis of a multitude of “Best of 2011” lists, so probably a better place to check out if you like these things. What I found of interest from his evaluation was of the 37 photobooks that had been referenced the most often, I knew the titles of only half, had a chance to thumb through perhaps 10 and actually have four in my possession of the forty photobooks I acquired this year. Not a large amount of photobooks, eh. If Marc is correct, counting all of the various photobooks that ended up on someone’s “Best of” list, the total came to 139 different photobooks. Yikes, you can almost through a dart at a photobook catalog and hit someone’s “Best of”.
There are some lists, such as the “PhotoBook Top Sellers” which are going to exclusionary to those photobook which have large production runs in the multiple thousands and access to some large bookstores or other popular distribution channels, or popularist titles such as one #1 Simply Beautiful Photographs (published by National Geographic).
So during this past year, I have not changed my mind; for a photographer to have traveled the extra mile(s) to have your photographic project published this year, either self-published or with an established publisher, you have accomplished an awesome task. And in some way continued the development and on-going evolution of what we call a photobook. Some were brilliant, some were very thoughtful and challenging to understand, some were beautiful, some had endearing messages, some thought-provoking narratives and some were a great first effort.
Congratulations to you all! (and this year, it means a nice pat on my own back as well)
Best regards for 2012, which I expect will probably be another interesting year.