At War, Anja Niedringhaus: I wasn't going to buy this book when it came out, seemed to me like a lame attempt to cash in on the sad death of a photojournalist in the line of work, and/or yet another manifestation on the tendency suddenly to fawn over anything done by someone fallen in tragic circumstances. May have been a bit contradictory on my part as I'd gotten the books Infidel by Tim Heatherington, and Testament, by Chris Hondros, which came out shortly after both photographers' death in Libya in 2011. Both powerful works combining great photography and meaningful text. A couple of weeks ago I was at Payot in Lausanne, which is particularly well-stocked in photo books, saw a copy of Niedringhaus' book and thought I'd leaf through it. What an ass I'd been ! Her sensitive, soberly composed B&W pictures are truly remarkable, absolutely on par with the very best war photography.
Glasgow, Raymond Depardon: I've never made a secret of my partiality to Depardon, and I must have a good 20 or so of his books. Glasgow is unusual for being un colour. Photos of Glasgow in the 80's, bleak, matter-of-fact, and impeccably composed in Depardon's unmistakeable style.
Chiappas, Insurrection zapatiste au Mexique, Mat Jacob: I like this little collection Photo Poche Histoire, a spin-off (as Photo Poche Société) from the Photo Poche books, conceived not as retrospectives of a particular photographer per se, but rather reportages on certain events or issues. One of my favourite is Gaël Turine's reportage on the wall separating India from Bangladesh, Le mur et la peur. Jacob's photos are sometimes quite raw, grainy, and work well together s a story, but sometimes remain a little underwhelming on their own.
Mémoires d'un Chien, Daido Moriyama: this is also a great little collection, combining the great photographers' pictures with their writings. I particularly enjoyed the Robert Capa one, Slightly out of focus, recounting his wartime experience. I took a bit of time - rather a lot actually - to get to like Moriyama's photography, ordering book upon book from Amazon, and being disappointed time after time. I now like him - without being wildly enthusiastic - though I'd be quite hard pressed to say what it is exactly I like about him. It's the concept, the mood, the "package" rather than the individual pics, many of which I find quite indifferent. The man himself is also quite endearing and charismatic.
Daido Tokyo, Daido Moriyama: not quite sure how I feel about this one so far. The package is rather nice. It's also unusual in that it features colour photos by Moriyama, mostly known for his grainy, contrasty B&W. I'll have to come back to if a few times I think but for now I'm wondering whether Moriyama's colour pics aren't being celebrated more for their shooter than for what they're actually worth.
Lobi, Guy Le Querrec: I leafed through it at the book store on 3 or 4 separate occasions before finally snapping it up - which I wouldn't have done, had it been pricier. This whole project was apparently close to Le Querrec's heart, but the pictures leave me unconvinced.
Conversations with the Dead, Danny Lyon: now that's one hell of a great, beautiful, powerful book. The photos are really strong, documenting prison life in 60's Texas. What really sears this deep into your soul are the individual stories told by Lyon, along with writing by the prisoners themselves. This is a book you feel compelled to take in, right to the very last, hard, hard drop, emerging from it with tightly knotted ball of indignation in the pit of your stomach, a silent scream at the injustice suffered by these men whose dignity and battered humanity shines through each frame. I also have Lyon's classic The Bikeriders, and The Seventh Dog (more of a retrospective), but Conversations with the Dead is really something special.
L'Atelier Silencieux, David Douglas Duncan: a book printed in 1976 I picked up at a flea-market here in Geneva, of Picasso's home and workshop taken shortly after his death. Duncan was a long-time friend and photographer of Picasso, and this selection is quite moving.