Ten Fantastic Photo Books to Buy Now

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FATHER, Harley WeirPhotography by Harley Weir, Make-up by Thomas de Kluyver, Casting by Julia Lange, Model: Donna

Thanks to Photo London, May brings with it a range of exciting new photographic titles. Here, we present the best – from Harley Weir’s study of the male body to a long overdue Kwame Brathwaite monograph

Rubbish, Dipping Sauce, Grass, Peonie, Bum by Maisie Cousins, published by Trolley Books

Maisie Cousins’ first photo book arrives this month, and brings together three of her best-known series: Rubbish, Grass, Peonie, Bum, and Dipping Sauce – the latter of which is a close-up study of food, and was the subject of a London exhibition at the end of last year. “Food to me is always exciting, it changes form if you leave it, it’s colourful and textural,” the photographer told AnOther at the time. “It never bores me, I love that it makes me feel repulsion and hunger at the same time.” Cousins’ visceral shots play on this balance between the beautiful and the uncomfortable by honing in on the detail in the frame, with a playful focus on texture and colour.

Black is Beautiful by Kwame Brathwaite, published by Aperture

The title of an upcoming Aperture-published photo book on Kwame Brathwaite is Black is Beautiful, the very slogan the New York-born photographer helped to popularise after he featured it on posters used to promote a 1962 Harlem pageant for African-American women organised with his brother, Elombe Brath. Black is Beautiful is the first monograph to document Brathwaite’s decades-long career, long overdue for the photographer who is now in his eighties and still based in New York. Brathwaite has long been a pioneer of promoting black creativity: the 1962 pageant, Naturally 1962, was held the same year that the two brothers founded Grandassa Models, a modelling agency for African-American women, and in 1956 they had started the collective African Jazz Arts Society and Studios. “Our mission was to reach the folks so that they could see their own work,” he revealed to AnOther last year. “It was a time when people were trying to organise and improve the community, to get themselves in order so that they would not be the low man on the totem pole.”

FATHER by Harley Weir, published by IDEA

Harley Weir’s new book is a celebration of the male body. Published by IDEA and launching at Dover Street Market in London this week, FATHER – titled so because the project was originally a collaboration with her own father – Weir was “thinking about desire, finding people beautiful and trying to open up those confines that men and women share when it comes to gender roles and all things sexual,” she tells David Owen, founder of the London-based publisher, in an interview for AnOther. The 176-page monograph comprises photographs taken all over the world, from Mexico to Japan, which serve to explore, worship and subvert the idea of the male nude.

Congregation by Sophie Green, published by Loose Joints

For Congregation, London-based photographer Sophie Green documented various Aladura Spiritualist African churches in Southwark. Outside of Africa, Southwark has the highest concentration of Aladura – which is a denomination of Christianity mainly observed by Yoruba Nigerians – churches and a large West African community, and Green’s photography combines portraiture and documentary photography, showcasing the distinctive white clothes worn by the London church-goers (the Aladura congregations are also called “white garment” churches). The captivating images compiled in Congregation are the result of Green’s engagement with attendees of Sunday services over the course of two years, and make for a fascinating look at contemporary rituals and identity.

Attracting the Attractor by Stephen Willats, published by Claire de Rouen

On the streets of Yeading, London, Stephen Willats photographed two women, Fern Bain Smith and Frances Wilks, walking one behind the other. The black and white images in the resulting book, Attracting the Attractorwhich launches this week, show the women engaging in a not-quite-interaction over a length of time spent walking the suburban streets. Willats describes the area of Yeading as a “visual normality”, and this universal, relatable setting was important for what the photographer wanted to capture. “‘The Attraction Of The Attractor’ is a key concept in our understanding and perception of relationships between people in Western social reality,” he writes. “For it centres on how we possess another person psychologically, how we project our framework of references onto a stranger and, in effect, create that person as an essential part of this possession.” 

Photographs by Jack Davison, published by Loose Joints

“People want to be able to call you an art photographer or a fashion photographer. It’s easier for them to put a tag on you. But I don’t necessarily feel comfortable in any of the realms,” Jack Davison told AnOther as his debut monograph was published last week. “I’ve always said I want to keep people confused forever.” Photographs is a collection of images that maintains such mystery, bringing together over a decade’s worth of Davison’s editorial, personal and commercial work across “film and digital, and photographs of other photographs, and scans of scans” – a beautiful book from one of contemporary photography’s most exciting names.

865, 485 REMIXED, and 1500 by Willy Vanderperre, published by IDEA

This month, photographer and AnOther contributor Willy Vanderperre has launched not one but three new publications with IDEA. 865, 485 REMIXED and 1500 are all connected: 865 is a continuation of his previous book 635, which printed all 635 posts the photographer had shared on his Instagram account until that point; 1500 is a limited-edition publication that combines 635 and 865, featuring all 1500 Instagram images; and 485 REMIXED also looks to Instagram, taking the form of a zine featuring the work of 200 artists who have created work inspired by Vanderperre’s and shared it on the platform – in an interview with AnOther, the Belgian photographer described it as “a ‘thank you’ to the people who rework the work”. A great month for Vanderperre fans.

Oh! What Fun We Had by Gavin Watson, published by Damiani

1970s and 80s skinheads are the subjects of Oh! What Fun We Had (named for the Madness song) by Gavin Watson, a collection of photographs taken during the photographer’s youth in High Wycombe. Watson’s shots capture the reality of Britain’s youth skinhead culture, which was eventually painted in a different light by the media at the time, and the images feel just as prescient today. “Nothing has changed. It’s got a lot more solidified,” Watson told Another Man. “I used to feel isolated about how much bullshit was out there that we saw through at an early age. We had to rebel. I’m glad the next generation woke up and started to piss off these people in power – it’s beautiful!”

Mexico, Masks & Rituals by Phyllis Galembo, published by Radius Books/D.A.P.

New York-based photographer Phyllis Galembo’s latest publication compiles ten years’ worth of photographs taken in Mexico of various masquerade carnivals and celebrations across the country. The rituals involved in masquerade across the world have long fascinated Galembo – whose previous books have focused on such festivities and traditions in Africa and Haiti, for example – and in Mexico, Masks & Ritual she documents the vibrant, compelling costumes of many Mexican people with her striking portraiture.

Tennis Fan by Stephan Würth, published by Damiani

Stephan Würth presents a love letter to the game of tennis with new publication Tennis Fan. The photographer has long been a follower and admirer of tennis, and the black and white photographs featured in the book were taken at amateur practices, professional tournaments, impromptu games and chance encounters with sports campaigns while out and about. Würth’s lens turns not only to the players but to the fans and people who work in the world of tennis (cue shots of worn-out ball boys and weary looking camera men), making for a compelling look at the appeal of the storied game.