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The River Winter. Photographs by Jem Southam.
Published by MACK, 2012.
The River Winter
Reviewed by Colin Pantall

The River Winter
Photographs by Jem Southam.
MACK, 2012. Hardbound. 96 pp., 40 color illustrations, 13x10-3/4".

Jem Southam's pictures are quiet and unspectacular. They feature rural landscapes where changes happen over a period of days or months or years. Fields, ponds, rivers and rockfalls are Southam's territory, rural sites where there's nothing much to be seen, places where most photographers would move on from in search of a better (more spectacular) picture.

So you look at his pictures and wonder what the fuss is all about. And then you look at another and another, and the fuss creeps up on you. Southam is an organic photographer; he's one with the land. He's a kind photographer, the sort of man who keeps an allotment and gives his produce to his neighbours. For some reason, he seems kind and as a result his pictures are kind. Southam is a walking photographer and as you look at his pictures, you start to fall into his stride. As the places he walks in become familiar, the changes he photographs form a texture and become almost tangible. With his rockfalls, you can feel the rocks, you can imagine clambering over the beaches where he lugged his 10 by 8 camera and tripod. With the pond you smell the autumn foliage, visualise the mayflies dancing over the still body of water he photographed over the years.

The River Winter follows the same pattern. It creeps up on you and makes itself familiar. Southam's work seeks out a quiet empathy, drawing you out into a nature that is unromantic but lyrical. For The River Winter, Southam photographed the waters around the River Exe from the end of autumn in 2010 to the first signs of spring in the following year.

The River Winter, by Jem Southam. Published by MACK, 2012.

For the weather-obsessed Briton the time span is instantly identifiable. Winters in southwest England used to be mild affairs, punctuated only by what the English weatherperson calls 'wintry showers,' 'patches of frost' and 'frozen fog.' Snow was virtually unheard of and the idea that it would 'settle' was a distant dream. Then in 2008, it did settle. That means the snow stuck to the ground and got deeper and deeper. For the first time in 20 years near enough, England was covered in snow. The country came to a standstill and for the first time in their lives, children could toboggan and have snowball fights in God's Own Country. Hallelujah!

I remember that winter because the day it snowed I went sledging down Solsbury Hill (the one in the song) with my daughter and her friends. I remember the winter of 2010 because of the frigid temperatures and the ice on the roads in the 2 weeks before Christmas. I remember the snowfall and a week of snowball fights and sledging that lasted for 7 days until Boxing Day when the Big Melt began.

The River Winter, by Jem Southam. Published by MACK, 2012.

So I recognise that weather in Jem Southam's photographs. It starts with 'The Confluence of Two Streams,' taken on Halloween in Stoke Woods. The stream is a muddy trickle, its banks covered with the bronze and yellow leaves of fall. A fern dead centre in the foreground adds a primeval touch, the idea of an old landscape, one where the rhythms of the seasons have precedence over the vanities of humanity. The landscape is lyrical but not one you would necessarily want to walk in. It's organic and sodden, blocked by webs of leaves and branches. The bodies of water that appear in every photograph are alive, necessary but not attractive. There is little artifice in what Southam does, but rather a simplicity and a clarity of expression that is a wonder to behold.

The River Winter, by Jem Southam. Published by MACK, 2012.

Fall passes to winter and the first frosts appear. Weeds and reeds and teasels take on a delicate silver quality of winter and then the layer of crystals disappears. There is a thaw and the greys turn back to the dark browns and olive greens of the dank early winter. Snow comes with a vengeance on 20th December. Taddiforde Brook is shown on the first day of the snowfall, with the overhanging branches of trees laden with pristine snow. It's not quite Narnia, it's too messy for that, but it's halfway there, with the frozen brook water adding a definite chill to proceeding. Six days later and we see the brook again. The thaw is coming and the snow has thinned out. In one of the few signs of human intervention, there are snowballs on the ice and a few cracks where somebody has perhaps tried to break the ice; all part of the fun of an English winter.

The River Winter, by Jem Southam. Published by MACK, 2012.

And so the snow melts. White snow turns into brown mud, and the undergrowth has died back. Everything is dead now. Cold and wet and dead. Before sunlight and spring reappear, we see the River Winter moribund and desolate. In three pictures of 'The River Creedy at Sweetham,' all the green has gone. The cold and the snow has denuded the river bank of all life; a quiet, English catastrophe has hit the vegetation.

The River Winter, by Jem Southam. Published by MACK, 2012.

And that is what Southam's work is all about; quiet catastrophes on a local scale, with pictures that are atavistic in their execution, that take us back to a time when we walked in tune with fluctuations of the natural, unbuilt environment of which we are just a small part. His work reminds us of our place in the big scheme of things, of our mortality, our vulnerability and the fact that we are just bit players. The wonder is that he doesn't need to photograph grand panoramas to do this. Instead a muddy trickle of a river and some moderately cold weather are enough for him.—COLIN PANTALL

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by:
Aaron Schuman

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COLIN PANTALL is a UK-based writer and photographer. He is a contributing writer for the British Journal of Photography and a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Wales, Newport.
Melanie McWhorter, Gordon Stettinius & David Chickey at our discussion on book publishing at photo-eye Gallery 

photo-eye was pleased to host David Chickey, founder of Radius Books, and Gordon Stettinius, founder of Candela Books + Gallery, for a presentation about photobook publishing on November 7th 2011. Gordon Stettinius will be Skyped in from New York. Chickey and Stettinius talked about their recent publications Chris McCaw’s Sunburn (Candela, 2012) and Sharon Harper’s From Above and Below (Radius, 2012) and also discussed working with distributors and the challenges of making and selling books in the current market.

Unfortunately, we encountered a few technical difficulties with our video, but we did get good audio of the discussion, which we share with you below:

More information on David Chickey and Radius Books can be found on their website. More information on Gordon Stettinius and Candela Books + Gallery can be found here.

The Bitter Years. Curated by Edward Steichen.
Published by DAP, 2012.
The Bitter Years
Reviewed by Faye Robson

The Bitter Years
Curated by Edward Steichen
DAP, 2012. Hardbound. 288 pp., 229 duotone illustrations, 9-1/2x12".

In a close wooden shack - strewn with clothing and bedding, door open to the elements - a small family are seated, the mother looking down at her barely clothed toddler, while her son leans, sullen, against the mattress that is packed between the walls. There is, perhaps, an atmosphere of resistance in this image, the large bed forming a barrier that cuts across the composition and highlights the photographer's awkward presence in what is patently a cramped, private space. Both children turn their shoulders to the camera, as if rejecting the documentarian's gaze. One might equally argue, however, that Carl Mydans photograph – which occurs early in The Bitter Years - has a tender, if not essentially hopeful, undertone. Light streams in between the boards of the walls, lending the gentle mother figure a quite literal aura of calm, her softly inclined head recalling the Madonna figures of religious painting.

Whichever way you read the image, it is clear that human affect is at its centre, thematically and formally. Whether you see resilience or resistance, human responses to hardship are central to this and, indeed, to the majority of the photographs in The Bitter Years, a book which will appeal to all those with an interest in the work of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) – the photographic archive of which documents a vast swathe of North American life during the worst years of the Great Depression - and its star photographers, including Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. It is worth stressing this humanistic, even sentimentalising, emphasis, however, as this book is emphatically 'a,' rather than 'the,' history of the FSA and its archive.

The Bitter Years, by Edward Steichen. Published by DAP, 2012.

In particular, The Bitter Years is the story of MoMA's seminal exhibition of the same title, curated by Edward Steichen and held in 1962, just after the photographer's tenure as Director of Photography at this institution had come to an end. As a lengthy note to the reader explains, the editors of this publication have gone to great lengths to reproduce the experience of the exhibition as closely as possible in book form, from reproducing marks and damage as they appear in the actual prints exhibited, to replicating Steichen's idiosyncratic, almost magazine-like, hang for the show. Steichen - as Arianne Pollet points out in one of the introductory essays to this book - was shaped as a curator by his experience in magazine publishing (he had been director of photography at both Vogue and Vanity Fair previous to joining MoMA) and his editorial training gave him a predilection for 'monumental installations that exploited the reproducibility, the theatricality and the flexibility of the photographic image.' This treatment gives the book, at least, a variety and readability that might not inhere in a more sombre, 'respectful' treatment of these images.

The Bitter Years, by Edward Steichen. Published by DAP, 2012.

However, as Pollet and several other of the writers featured here point out, Steichen's 'monumentalizing' and emphatic vision works to the exclusion of many strands of the complete FSA archive (which comprises nearly 200,000 individual images, as opposed to the 208 shown here). He favoured portrait work to an overwhelming degree, excluding a great deal of landscape photography, for example, from 'The Bitter Years' exhibition. Nor was he afraid to manipulate his source material by reframing and cropping, as is illustrated by several, very interesting, 'before-and-after' shots included here.

The Bitter Years, by Edward Steichen. Published by DAP, 2012.

Roy Stryker, another towering figure in the history of the FSA, had reservations about Steichen's selection, arguing that it placed 'too much emphasis on human suffering,' and you may find yourself occasionally questioning the relevance, and impact, of repeated portraits that take dignified, unquestioning economic and personal suffering as their implicit subject, however masterly they may be (Walker Evans' 'Alabama cotton tenant farmer wife'). However, one advantage of this book's emphasis on exhibition historiography and context, is that it attunes the reader to the historical circumstances in which these emotionally weighted photographs have been used (in Steichen's case, arguably as part of a near-propagandistic, institutional pro-war effort at the time of exhibition) and makes their reading a more carefully considered process.

The Bitter Years, by Edward Steichen. Published by DAP, 2012.

It is also worth noting that the photographs collected here, whatever their bias, are beautiful; thoughtful and informative both. The 'Houses' section is a fascinating glimpse, not only into regional architecture and building skills, but into the bare compositional, bones of the architectural photograph. Many individual photos in the 'Sharecroppers' section of the book, such as Dorothea Lange's group shot of three female generations of a sharecropper family, provide startling psychological insight into family groups and transcend their strictly anthropological origins to communicate not only the character of families, but that of 'family' in straitened circumstances.

This publication marks the installation of 'The Bitter Years' as a permanent exhibit at Chateau d'Eau in Dudelange and is perhaps a tad reverential both of this event and its documentary origins. However, as an introduction to the work of the FSA and one of its greatest champions, it is an excellent and thought-provoking collection.—FAYE ROBSON

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FAYE ROBSON is an editor of illustrated books, currently based in London, UK. She has worked on photobooks for publishers including Aperture Foundation, New York and Phaidon Press, London, and writes a photo-blog called PLATE.
In video #8 of our In-Print Photobook series, Melanie McWhorter shares with us There's a Place in Hell for Me & My Friends by Pieter Hugo published by Oodee.

In-Print Photobook Video #8: There's a Place in Hell for Me & My Friends by Pieter Hugo from photo-eye on Vimeo.

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by:
Anne Wilkes Tucker

Helsinki, Finland, 1976 -- Pentti Sammallahti
From all of us at photo-eye, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and take this occasion to share with you a few beautiful snowy images from photo-eye Gallery artist Pentti Sammallahti.

Helsinki, Finland, 2002 -- Pentti Sammallahti
Sammallahti's work is currently hanging in photo-eye Gallery through February 9th and features some images that aren't available online. A selection of Sammallahti's work can be viewed here.

Ulug-Khem, Tuvva Siberia, 1997 -- Pentti Sammallahti
Cancellations. Photographs by Thomas Barrow.
Published by powerHouse Books, 2012.
Reviewed by David Ondrik

Photographs by Thomas Barrow.
powerHouse Books, New York, 2012. Hardbound. 108 pp., 65 duotone illustrations, 12x10".

Cancellations is a collection of photographs made by Thomas F. Barrow from 1973 to 1981 with an essay by Geoffrey Batchen. The series began shortly after Barrow relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Rochester, New York, where he was Assistant Director and Editor of Publications at the George Eastman House. This connection is useful for understanding Cancellations, as in 1975 the Eastman House hosted two exhibitions that manifest the spirit of Barrow's work: New Topographics (which nearly every photographer knows about) and Extended Document (which not nearly enough photographers know about).

Cancellations, by Thomas Barrow. Published by powerHouse Books, 2012.

The photographic image in Cancellations would have fit right into an exhibition on the "man-altered landscape." They are all urban shots of a developing and expanding Albuquerque. There are rarely any people in the photographs; the subject is clearly the urban setting of a smallish Western boom-town. As a long-time resident of Albuquerque, it's difficult to escape the "where was that?" or "I can't believe how much that's changed!" game that can so easily occur when looking at (what have become) historical images. The photographs are sepia toned to a lovely chocolate brown; I'm uncertain if the intent in the 1970s was to reference historic images, but that is what the tone implies today.

Cancellations, by Thomas Barrow. Published by powerHouse Books, 2012.
Cancellations, by Thomas Barrow. Published by powerHouse Books, 2012.

Cancellations is connected to the Extended Document exhibition, and earned its name by the marks made when Barrow took an ice pick to his negatives, gouging a prominent X through most of them. The negatives that do not have an X have some other "defacement;" some look like he took a hole-punch to them. This cancellation mark was inspired by a "re-strike" of a Marcel Duchamp etching made after the artist had "cancelled" the plate by drawing three lines down the image to deface it, and make clear that no more "proper" prints could be made. This improper print inspired Barrow to apply the same principle to his photographic imagery, and is the transgression that separated Barrow's work from nearly the entire history of photographic image making. He's consciously calling attention to how the picture was made (a negative) rather than wallowing in the illusion-reality expected of most photographs. The hand of the artist is boldly, almost vulgarly, present in each image in a way that had not been seen before and is not often seen today. It is not entirely clear what he is canceling: the photograph itself or the scene that has been photographed. In his essay, Batchen grandly suggests that Barrow set out to kill photography itself.

Cancellations, by Thomas Barrow. Published by powerHouse Books, 2012.

As for the physical book, the duotone images look great. It's a fairly large book, and the images seem to be the printed actual size. Batchen's essay follows, and is an informative window into Barrow's process and influences. The book closes with a grid of smaller reproductions of the images with titles and dates.

Cancellations reminds me of The Velvet Underground and Nico: not many people actually heard it (saw it) when it was new, but those that did found themselves inspired to push their art in unexpected directions. Joel-Peter Witkin, Chris McCaw — really anyone who's cut, burned, boiled or scraped a negative — owes Barrow a debt for opening the door ahead of them. If you're at all interested in photography that challenges the f64-style image, Cancellations will leave you satisfied.—DAVID ONDRIK

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DAVID ONDRIK has lived in Albuquerque since the late 1970s. He was introduced to photography in high school and quickly appropriated his father’s Canon A-1 so that he could pursue this exciting artistic medium. He received his BFA, with an emphasis in photography, from the University of New Mexico and has been involved in the medium ever since. Ondrik is also a National Teaching Board Certified high school art teacher.
Emie In The Truck, 2009 -- Cig Harvey
Photographer's Showcase artist Cig Harvey has a few upcoming shows and a workshop in early 2013. Opening just a day apart at Firecat Projects in Chicago and Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Culver City on February 22nd and 23rd respectively, Harvey will be giving an artist talk at both opening receptions. Havey will also be teaching a workshop titled The Personal Photographic Image from April 3rd-6th at the Santa Fe Workshops. More information on the workshop can be found here.

View Cig Harvey's work on the Photographer's Showcase
View Harvey's book You Look At Me Like an Emergency

John Delaney's Hoboken Passing series was recently featured on The Picture Show at In this series of photographs, Delaney focuses on the mom and pop business that are slowing disappearing in his hometown of New Jersey. The Picture Show post touches on the fact that some of the businesses Delaney photographed were harmed by Sandy, and that Delaney will continue to capture Hoboken as it changes.

View John Delaney's work on the Photographer's Showcase

Read the interview with Delaney on his Golden Eagle Nomad series

Rope Out -- Mitch Dobrowner
Mitch Dobrowner's image Rope Out was selected as one of National Geographic Magazine's Photos of the Year. National Geographic Magazine Editor in Chief Chris Johns discussed his top 10 photograph picks of 2012 in a video, Johns describes the image as looking like something out of the Wizard of Oz. A slide presentation of all the images can be seen here.

View the complete selection of new storm images here

Previous posts and interviews with Mitch Dobrowner can be seen here
Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Cantanese
Every year we see trends in the selection of books picked for our Best Books list. Some of what we see may be related to what we're interested in, and what stuck out to me were the number of titles that were created from or incorporated vernacular photography. I counted over a dozen titles in a recent scan of the list, though I may have missed a few. They are a diverse bunch, including an album of photographs discovered on the street in Found Photos in Detroit, the scrapbook assemblages of Down These Mean Streets, the appropriated Google Street View images of A New American Picture, and the pristine and obsessive precision of life documented in Lange Liste.

Dive Dark Dream Slow was among the most frequently selected books on the list, and is a rather brilliant example of the rise of the snapshot in contemporary photographic practice, exhibition and study. The images in the book were culled from the massive vernacular photography collection of Peter Cohen, who has become one of the foremost collectors of the form. Cohen's collection has recently been made the subject of exhibitions and publications, and part of his collection was also recently donated to New York's Museum of Modern Art. In Dive Dark Dream Slow, Cohen's collection has been put in the hands of photographer and bookseller Melissa Cantanese. The resulting book captures a feeling that I imagine must be quite similar to wandering through such a vast photographic archive. One seems to enter a meditative state where the faces and scenes before you begin to fill a waking dream.

From Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Cantanese

The physical book itself is a beautiful production. The size and stippled texture of the cover make it reminiscent of an old hardcover picture book for a child -- one where the dust jacket has been long since battered and forgotten. This sensual quality only enhances dream-like nature of the volume. It opens with an image of a man in swimming trunks on a railing. Caught mid-stride, he seems to be preparing to dive, though no water is visible. Partially obstructed, the face of a woman smiles up at him, caught in the excitement of his balancing act. It’s a joyous photograph, a feeling complicated by the image on the next page – a large building engulfed in flames, burning in the night. The juxtaposition of these two images initiates the viewer into the complicated nature of these images. Immediately our minds try to draw them together, and any dissonance that may have initially resulted from the first two images is smoothed over by the following photographs, which all show a diving figure. Within the first few pages, a tone has been set, and we see an assortment of bathing figures – women and men, some actually in the water, others simply laying down as if floating. A story seems to be established, but it is a story that suddenly drifts outwards.

From Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Cantanese
From Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Cantanese

The clusters of thematically similar images give way to striking photographs with little apparent relationship beyond their proximity: lighting strikes, fighter planes, the moon. With the connections loosened up, the book replicates something closest to the free associative state one enters when falling asleep. Images appear and we draw connections, finding meaning in the abstraction between photographs.

From Dive Dark Dream Slow by Melissa Cantanese

The photographs in Dive Dark Dream Slow could easily be misidentified as something out of one’s own family album, which speaks to why such images are so resonant. Our cultural connection to the snapshot is deep; it’s how many of us encounter our past and what came before us -- how we get to know our parents and grandparents in their youths -- documents of personal history before our time. Our minds are primed for empathizing with these images, creating back-story, filling in gaps. In Dive Dark Dream Slow, Cantanese has shaped the assortment of images into a work of art, almost a photographic poetic cut-up, and as such, it seems to be a bit of a Rorschach test – you take from it what you see in it. Dive Dark Dream Slow isn’t my personal favorite book of vernacular photography on this year’s Best Books list, but it is a fine example of power of the vernacular image. -- Sarah Bradley

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by:
Adam Bell
Miwa Susuda
Shane Lavalette
Todd Hido

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In video #7 of our In-Print Photobook series, Erin Azouz shares with us Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit by David Rochkind published by Dewi Lewis.

In-Print Photobook Video #7: Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit by David Rochkind from photo-eye on Vimeo

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2012 by:
Erin Azouz
Melanie McWhorter

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Human Zoos. Edited with text by Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep.
Published by Actes Sud, 2012.
Human Zoos
Reviewed by Christopher J. Johnson

Human Zoos
Edited with text by Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep.
Actes Sud, 2012. Softcover. 382 pp., illustrated throughout, 9-1/2x11".

Human Zoos is an inexhaustible resource of period photographs and promotional materiel. The book is the companion piece to the Musee du Quai Branly's exhibit "Exhibitions: The Invention of the Savage" that was held between November 2011 and June 2012 in Paris, France. The focus of the exhibit was America's and Western Europe's view on the "savage" throughout the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th. It is sad, fascinating, and, like a textbook, endless. The historical information was exhaustively researched and is provided in a well-written narrative by Lilian Thurman with informative sidebars added by the show's curators throughout. The book is enriched not only with photographs, but period ephemera as well, including: tour guides, postcards, advertisements, paintings and newsprint.

Human Zoos, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, eds. Published by Actes Sud, 2012.

The text traces the presentation and degradation of many nonwestern cultures as they were presented to the western world. Beginning with a chapter about the rise of the Freak Show, the text winds through the melancholy story of the dehumanization of Asian, African, Native American, Indian and other cultures as the west explored, conquered and claimed vast portions of the globe. Among the other choice information to be found and viewed is rarely voiced perspectives of P. T. Barnum and other showmen of the time, demonstrating how such spectacles as the sideshow began a debasement of mankind culminating in the placement of "savages" in actual zoos alongside the animals.

Human Zoos, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, eds. Published by Actes Sud, 2012.
Human Zoos, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, eds. Published by Actes Sud, 2012.

Due to its harsh subject matter Human Zoos provides a great deal of hard to find and hardly seen material. Among the most intriguing photos are the Villages erected for many different exhibitions such as the St. Louis World's Fair (in which Inuit peoples were imported to inhabit an "Eskimo Village" so as to familiarize Americans and the rest of the world with America's latest claim in the Louisiana Purchase). Similar exhibitions are covered in Paris, London, and Munich. The White City built by the English in London to demonstrate the India province of the British Empire is extremely intriguing and impressive in its craftsmanship.

Human Zoos, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boëtsch, Nanette Jacomijn Snoep, eds. Published by Actes Sud, 2012.

This book makes us genuinely aware that what we hold to be true from time to time is often a painted doll, a shadow of the natural truth. This fact hues with unease the work as a whole. Few photo books carry the weight and history that Human Zoos does. Its photographic salvo holds one's interest like a car crash. It riles the senses just as it stimulates them. Hours and hours can be lost in this book, which is a great quality. It is also provocative enough to make us reflect on our cultural values. Yes, this book is monstrously heavy but, it is a worthwhile weight.—CHRISTOPHER J. JOHNSON

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CHRISTOPHER J. JOHNSON is originally from Madison Wisconsin. He came to Santa Fe in 2002 and graduated from the College of Santa Fe majoring in English with an emphasis in poetry. He is an arts writer for the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque. 
Chris McCaw's Sunburn Special Edition
Selected as a Best Book of 2012, Chris McCaw’s first monograph, Sunburn, is now available as a special edition from Candela Books. The special edition is limited to only 21 copies, each signed by the artist, and comes in a custom clamshell box with a one-of-a-kind 4x5 paper negative of the sunrise over the San Francisco Bay on August 10th, 2012. The book is also accompanied by a small handmade accordion-fold booklet containing the complete work from the Sunburn series.

Chris McCaw’s sunburned paper negatives are quite a marvel – his long exposures range from a couple hours up to an entire day, with the sun’s path across the ecliptic burned into expired silver-gelatin paper. His unique process transforms the photographic print to something of a sculptural, three-dimensional object.

“I was both excited and apprehensive to learn that Chris McCaw's photography was being published in his first monograph, Sunburn. I've been a fan of his one-of-a-kind photographic objects for a while now, and was nervous about how the images would translate to the printed page. The physicality of the sun-scorched burn across (and often through) his photographs is integral to the experience and because I've seen the real thing, I was uncertain that someone who hasn't could appreciate what they are looking at. Would the book pull it off? The answer is an emphatic yes.” –from David Ondrik’s review of Sunburn on the photo-eye Blog

Chris McCaw's Sunburn Special Edition

Selected as a Best Book of 2012 by:
Erin Azouz
Rebecca Senf
Anne Kelly

Purchase the tradition edition here, or email us to reserve a copy of the special edition of Sunburn for $2100.

Years in the making, Art Photo Index (API) ( has just launched!

Art Photo Index is an innovative, cloud-based visual database containing images from thousands of internationally acclaimed art and documentary photographers and photo-based artists.

Read the press release:

"A heartfelt thanks goes out to my entire staff and to the nearly 3,000 photographers and photo-based artists who made this incredible resource possible."--Rixon Reed, Director/Founder, Art Photo Index and photo-eye

Art Photo Index launches with over 12,500 images by nearly 3,000 photographers from 85 countries.

The world map shows where each of the photographers is located. Click a pin and view all of the API photographers from that area.

Announcing Art Photo Index Exhibitions

API Exhibitions are immersive online photography exhibits created by world-renowned curators with work selected from artists included in Art Photo Index.

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural Art Photo Index exhibitions.

Katherine Ware to Curate First API Exhibition

Fear and Loathing will be curated by Katherine Ware, Curator of Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art. This exhibition, shown exclusively on Art Photo Index, opens in February 2013.

Rebecca Senf to Curate Second API Exhibition

Those are not MY family values, will be curated by Rebecca Senf, Norton Family Curator at the Center for Creative Photography and Phoenix Art Museum. This exhibition opens in March 2013.

Visit API
Reconstructing the View. Photographs by Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe
Text by Rebecca Senf & Stephen Pyne.
Published by University of California Press, 2012.
Reconstructing the View
Reviewed by Karen Jenkins

Reconstructing the View
Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Text by Rebecca Senf & Stephen Pyne.
University Of California Press, 2012. Hardbound. 208 pp., illustrated throughout, 10x12-1/4".

Mark Klett and frequent collaborator Byron Wolfe bring the rephotography project to the rim of the Grand Canyon in Reconstructing the View. Primarily photo-based depictions of this natural wonder – from modernist abstractions to garish tourist postcards – are both conspicuously inserted and insinuated into their composite imagery. Environmental historian Stephen J. Pyne contextualizes the canyon's visual history for the catalog, detailing how this place became fodder for so many scientist-adventurers, artists and entrepreneurs, from high to low culture and back again. Klett's first conception of rephotography succeeded within the narrow strictures of "before and after" pairings with past vantage points, if not points of view. Perceived commonalities gave way to all that was distinct, materially and conceptually, from past to present images of western American landscapes. In Reconstructing the View, then and now come together in a broader repertoire of digital collage and overlay. Like ace jigsaw puzzlers, Klett and Wolfe take on the challenge of the Grand Canyon's vastness and relatively homogeneous topography in this latest reconstruction.

Reconstructing the View, by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Published by University Of California Press, 2012.
Reconstructing the View, by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Published by University Of California Press, 2012.

On one hand, their exacting correspondences of ridgelines and outcroppings suggest both a constancy of the canyon's geographical profile over time and a veracity in its depiction. Yet the pair also set up a variable play of environment and tone, as well as conceptual vantage point, in the weaving together of disparate media (that sometimes literally encapsulates a viewer). The photographers believe that a transparent revelation of their artistic process – in both material tools and working methodology – is essential to how the work comes to mean. Curator Rebecca A. Senf delves into this aspect at length in her catalog essay, heroizing the artists' process of discovery and creation as she connects them to a lineage of scientist-artists who have explored and depicted the canyon first. At times her tone feels a bit overly congratulatory of the Klett-Wolfe collaborative experience, comprised of packaged sub-sets like the historic mash-up and the stitched panorama. While this text is a well-research delineation of their methodology, I find that an overemphasis on process runs the risk of deflating the power of the best images in this series.

Reconstructing the View, by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Published by University Of California Press, 2012.
Reconstructing the View, by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe. Published by University Of California Press, 2012.

When Klett and Wolfe utilize a self-evident and formally simple conflation of source imagery and reconstructed view, they create a realm that is both portal and roadblock to an experience of the passage of time and an evolving perspective on place. Unlike with their more stylistically and technically elaborate works, this paradoxically allows me to engage in a meaningful suspension of disbelief. It is not the knowledge of the photographers' elaborate process, but rather the works' inherent demonstration of the rigor of its pairings that pulls me in. While Klett and Wolfe may reject the nostalgia of this collection, the web-based project Dear Photograph comes to mind when I consider what it means for them to find and occupy the physical space of their chosen past views. Taking on personal rather than shared cultural views, Dear Photograph's contributors revisit sites where snapshots of pivotal life events or tender family moments were first made. In its borrowing of rephotography's precise match-ups of past and present views, it does help me to connect with one aspect of process so prized by Klett and Wolfe in Reconstructing the View and elsewhere: the importance of getting there, being a presence and inhabiting the space where the view is recalled, recognized and taken on anew.—KAREN JENKINS

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KAREN JENKINS earned a Master's degree in Art History, specializing in the History of Photography from the University of Arizona. She has held curatorial positions at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ and the Demuth Museum in Lancaster, PA. Most recently she helped to debut a new arts project, Art in the Open Philadelphia, that challenges contemporary artists to reimagine the tradition of creating works of art en plein air for the 21st century.
Lost Track by Raoul Kramer and They Came to Baghdad by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari

Lost Track by Raoul Kramer is an in-depth journey along the Burma-Thailand Railway. Through exploring the railway’s historical significance as a product of the people and prisoners forced into labor by the Japanese Army, Lost Track takes the viewer through a harrowing past largely forgotten in the present day. While approached primarily as a documentary body of work, the innovative design incorporates archival material and text with at times haunting imagery, bringing forth a staggering conceptual series.

In their new collaborative book project Multi-National Force: Iraq, in Agatha Christie's They Came to Baghdad, Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari take an innovative look at diplomatic and romantic notions of the city plagued by seemingly endless conflict. Paralled with the visual imagery of the covers from Christie’s hugely popular book, They Came to Baghdad, the artists combine found web imagery from sources such as the New York Times, Flickr, Wikipedia, and more to explore ideas of international intrigue. Mandel and Zakari have taped into the many voices that are now involved in shaping, reconstructing and portraying Iraq.

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