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.

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An Intimate Portrait of Hillary Clinton in Photographs

LOVED ONE LOST:NAME: Jabril BradleyAGE: 20DOB: 10/6/1990SEX: MaleDATE OF DEATH: 9/1/2011TIME: After MidnightLOCATION: 9th st and Ave of the States, Chester, PACIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO MURDER: Bradley was riding his bike home from a friend’s house on the east side of Chester, September 1, 2011, when an unknown gunman opened fire. He was struck in the back once and continued to ride his bike home. A number of blocks later he collapsed to the ground from blood loss. He bled to death on the street. Bradley’s family claim that he was shot because of mistaken identity. According to his mother, Bradley was supposed to still be in prison. He was serving a sentence for possession of a controlled substance and was allegedly released before his time was up. Within weeks of his murder, the FBI came looking for Bradley at his mothers house, claiming that he got released by mistake. IN PHOTOGRAPH:NAME OF FAMILY MEMBERS: Sister to Jabril Bradley: Danita Harris, 30.Son to Danita Harris: Jah’lil Harris, 3.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 23, 2014

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