Photography Books Now

Photography Books Now Juror Brian Smith on the Best Photo Books

from Blurberati Blog

Brian Smith, Pulitzer-prize winning photographer and Photography Book Now (PBN) juror, took a few minutes to talk with the Blurberati. Read on for his take on everything from the role of photography books past and present to which photography books he’d take along if stranded on a desert island. Insightful and funny, Brian tells it like it is.

Blurb: What is the importance of the book to the history of photography?

Brian: Since photos don’t look so good printed on cave walls, photography books are our history.

Blurb: Why is there such interest in the photography books now, in the early 21st century?

Brian: I think in a way the weakening of the traditional editorial market has created a niche to become your own publisher.

Blurb: Who are some of the most interesting photography bookmakers and publishers today?

Brian: I love books by Steidl, Tashcen, teNeues and Assouline, but honestly, I think some of the most interesting photography books today are self-published.

Blurb: What three photography books would you take if you were stranded on a desert island?

Brian: If I was felt like being lazy and kicking back, I’d simply take three copies of Helmut Newton’s Sumo and build a house out of it and call it a day. But assuming that the rest of the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 had already set up camp, I’d start with Albert Watson’s Maroc and Cyclops, then add a first edition copy of Twin Palms Press Lost Hollywood that I found years ago while exploring Arcana Books on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Of course, I couldn’t leave behind Elliott Erwitts Personal Best or Irving Penn’s Passage or Avedon: An Autobiography or Sebastião Salgado’s Workers…oh wait, I’m starting to see why the plane went down.

Blurb: Who is the photographer who influenced you most?

Brian: I’d have to say Elliott Erwitt whose wit showed me that in a split second a photograph can capture a movement that will make you laugh for years to come.

Blurb: What was the first photography book you bought?

Brian: When I was in high school and just starting out, I came across Sean Callahan’s Masters of Contemporary Photography series of books about different photographic genres featuring the work of Elliott Erwitt, Duane Michals, Mary Ellen Mark, Annie Leibovitz, Paul Fusco, John Zimmerman, Mark Kauffman and Neil Leifer. I can’t remember if it was sold as a set or individually, but I do know I bought the whole set and studied each one cover-to-cover call it “Photo 101”.

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