TIME’s Best of 2012: The Photobooks We Loved

©Taschen—Wolfgang Tillmans
©Taschen—Wolfgang Tillmans
Neue Welt by Wolfgang Tillmans, selected by Michael Mack, publisher of MACK

“I find it an amazing idea that a volume of photographs, even one from the distant past, can explode into life at any time, when stumbled upon by a sympathetic reader.”

Martin Parr, from his introduction to The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1 (Phaidon 2004)

The photobook long ago broke free of the confines of the coffee table, and has become not only an essential tool in tracking the history of photography, but one of countless means by which we see the medium continually pushed to (and beyond) its traditional limits. The art of the photobook in 2012 remained astonishingly vibrant, with new voices and visions brought to light by daring publishers and—even more encouragingly—by innumerable self-publishing ventures funded by the likes of Kickstarter and Emphas.is.

With peers and colleagues around the globe, we gladly lined up to discover new titles and new artists presented at events like the New York Art Book Fair, Offprint Paris and the International Photobook Festival, among countless other new fairs.

On LightBox we covered exciting projects across myriad genres, from the epic War/Photography catalog to more personalized, micro projects compiled by the Indie Photobook library. Here, in this gallery, we spotlight the best photobooks of the past year as chosen by photographers and photography experts from around the world … and, of course, by photo editors from TIME.

This year’s offerings range from enormous, luxe tomes like Taschen’s Her Majesty to smaller, more intimate works like J&L’s BABE. Overall the selection confirms — in a heartening way, for all of us — that even as unwieldy maelstroms of information emerge from all of our digital devices, many of us still enjoy being transfixed, or transported, by an encounter with a singular vision. After all, the pleasure and quiet thrill that one gets sitting down with a good book — especially one that pushes the boundaries of the format — simply can’t be reproduced in mere ones and zeroes. In that spirit of celebrating a still-vital art form, we humbly offer our take on the photobooks we loved most in 2012.

Latest Posts

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Read More
WASTELAND PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated December 2014 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.     REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing.        Mandatory usage requirements: (Please note: you may select 5 branded images for online use and 3 images for print/unbranded)1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image2. Show the December cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) unless using only one image3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/superfund/voosen-textat the top of your piece, ahead of the photos 4. Mention that the images are from "the December issue of National Geographic magazine” GOWANUS CANALNew York, New YorkPollutants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, lead, copperYear listed: 2010Carved from a tidal estuary 160 years ago, the Gowanus Canal is Brooklyn’s industrial artery—and a deeply polluted waterway. Even so, it’s frequented by herons, seagulls, crabs, and canoeists. Defying local fears of economic stigma, the EPA listed the canal as a Superfund site in 2010. It hopes to start dredging contaminated mud in 2016.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Mideast Israel Palestinians

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 14 – Nov. 21

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,277 other followers