Bill Owens – ‘Suburbia’ (1999)

Bill Owens’ Suburbia became an underground, photo insider classic at the time of its original 1973 publication. This is the “New & Improved” 2002 edition, though I’m not quite sure what is new and/or improved about it.

If you’re unfamiliar, Owens cast his camera on the denizens of three communities Livermore, CA, while working as a staff photographer for the local newspaper. Owens collected quotes from many of his subjects (or, presumably, people just outside of frame) and the quotes appear below many of the photographs, earnest and honest and, now 45 years on, both laughable and wounding.

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Colin Jones – ‘Grafters’

I snatched up a(n extremely inexpensive) copy of Colin Jones’ Grafters after watching the Camera YouTube review some months ago. I think I paid less than $10 for it, shipped, which seems ludicrous for such a fine collection, and makes for both despair and thrill. Despair at the thought some/many/most of the books I bought new for full price will likely someday be remaindered for $10 or so; Thrill at the ability to pick up excellent, if older and used, photobooks for $10…

Anyway. Grafters (Phaidon, 2002) is a collection of Jones’ photographs of working classes in early 1960s Britain, the soon-to-be-demolished “slums” that look for all the world like tidy British row houses, children at play, the coal workers and ship builders at work and at leisure, and, not so strangely as you might imagine, ballet dancers at rest.

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Gerry Johannson – ‘American Winter’

American Winter is Gerry Johannson’s latest novel photobook and was Charcoal Book Club’s photobook of the month for November 2018.* For a good description of the book, turn no further than the publisher’s blurb: “For American Winter, Johansson travelled through semi-deserted towns in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, finding as much beauty as there was misery in landscapes cloaked in snow…”

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Tammy Law – ‘Permission to Belong’

Tammy Law‘s Permission to Belong tells the story of a group of Burmese refugees in Australia, the UK, and the USA, in refugee camps and as they’re resettled and struggle to find their place, far from home and in an unfamiliar culture. The book itself is an interesting object and has one of the more unique designs I’ve encountered.

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