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Great Little Photobooks Under $30

Palmwine & The Grass Cutter by Nick Neubeck, Photo Cubes by Erik Kessels and Good Rats by Niall O'Brien

Photobooks can be expensive. They're beautiful, collectible pieces of art in and of themselves, but collecting them avidly can get costly. I started working at photo-eye a few months ago and quickly fell in love with the beautiful books we sell and began going through the shelves and unearthing great little books to grow my photobook collection without breaking the bank. Here are some of my recent favorites — all $30 and under.

from Palmwine & The Grass Cutter
Palmwine & The Grass Cutter by Nick Neubeck $12
This wonderful little book containing 32 pages with a smyth-sewn binding, is filled with portraits taken in Ghana and handwritten captions by the photographer. The description states, "this book is a compilation of photos of people, you don't know them, and they're not famous and you will probably never meet them… The point is exploration of the unknown." The book is just that -- an exploration of an unknown people, interspersed with the author's witty hand-written captions. The captions make the book what it is. My personal favorite is a portrait of a smiling Ghanian woman wearing a San Francisco t-shirt with the caption "never heard of it." This book is charming, playful, and a bit mysterious -- just as Neubeck promises.

from Photo Cubes
Photo Cubes by Erik Kessels – original price $26 – on sale for $14.95
The photo cubes that Erik Kessels photographs in this book provide a visual meditation on understanding the kitsch and evolution of the family snapshot. The early 60s and 70s saw new approaches to production and display as photography became increasingly accessible to people all over the world and the dimensionality of the photo cube promised a “new concept in photo display.” The viewer is allowed to discover and create new stories with every turn of the photo cube – a snapshot of a little girl drinking juice is placed next to a photograph of a saddled horse; a portrait of a white haired bearded man sits next to a portrait of a white, furry poodle. The juxtapositions are seemingly endless and the ones presented here are also quite humorous. The stock photos that have been selected by the manufacturers of the photo cubes provide a deeper understanding of the family snapshot as a relic and its varied incarnations over time.

from Good Rats
Good Rats by Niall O’Brien $30 – signed
Niall O’Brien spent five years photographing a group of young British punks in this beautiful, simply stated softbound signed monograph. He captures the boys lounging, kicking holes in walls, fighting, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and doing other troublesome things that young punks do. What makes this book more interesting however, is the camaraderie captured by O’Brien between the young boys. It is clear that the photographer spent quite a bit of time gaining trust from his subjects and that trust makes this book more than just a collection of photographs of people living on the fringe. It is also a poignant depiction of our shared humanity and desire for community – one that transcends the cultural barriers that these boys are rebelling against. -- Erin Azouz