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Best Books 2014: Melanie McWhorter

Best Books 2014 Best Books 2014 Melanie McWhorter Best Books picks from photo-eye Bookstore Manager Melanie McWhorter.

By Paula McCartney
Silas Finch

Years ago, Paula McCartney showed me an artist book called A Field Guide to Snow and Ice. I remember thinking that no one could recreate the feel of this unique object nor give it the attention it deserves. Yet, Silas Finch has mass produced, as much as an artist book can be mass-produced, a lush art object that pays homage to McCartney’s handmade book as only they can.
By Edited by Ryan Thompson & Phil Orr
The Ice Plant

This is such a fun and funny book. When I first opened it, almost every photo-eye staff member crowded around as I said, “look at this one!” The book shows petrified rocks that were returned to the Petrified Forest National Park along with the accompanying letter noting the misfortune the thief experienced after committing the crime. My favorite being, “This stone, with misfortune abounds!! To you… I am absolved.” So great.
By Sara Skogen Teigen

Photographers love Moleskines. That is one thing that Fractal State of Being has going for it. The reproduction of a journal by photographer and artist Sara Skorgan Teigen includes facsimiles of the artist’s drawings replete with the tape that holds the images to the original piece. It is a window into the artist’s working habits and her psyche in a recognizable and creative design.
By H. Lee
Kehrer Verlag

H. Lee shows us the not so seedy world of pot growers in Humboldt, CA. The book has paper-wrapped boards, printed endpapers and interspersed full-bleed images and multi-image spreads. It is a documentary project that graciously melds into art: A difficult task that H. Lee handles with ease.
By Mark Ruwedel

Mark Ruwedel is one of the best contemporary black-and-white landscape photographers and this new book features Western landscapes that invoke the name of the lord of the underworld and his place of residence. The grand landscapes that clearly draw influence from frontier photographers like Carleton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan are printed on the top half of each page with captions below. It was printed by EBS in Verona, Italy in tritone with separations by one of the masters in the field, Thomas Palmer. It is a beautiful book that explores a fun and wicked theme.
By Anka Sielka

The images in this sweet little book, which fits so neatly in the palm of my hand, document an arduous trip with Polish scientists to the Polish Polar Station. The title comes from the name of a polar willow that is showcased in the book. It is the only book on my list whose description uses the word dendrologists. I could love it just for that, but all the other qualities  size, printing and design  make it a wonderful piece to hold and possess.
By Edward Ranney
Yale University Press

Ed Ranney’s newest book features images of the desolate lands of the Nazca lines in Peru. Ed Ranney has been working in Peru for many years and is very familiar with the South American landscape and culture. This book is the work of a masterful photographer and an experienced and skilled Italian printer. Lucy Lippard’s essay only adds to the delightful book.
Edited by Timothy Prus
AMC Books

This photobook is Timothy Prus’ curation of the AMC's collection of 19th century microscopic studies set in five acts. The full page bleed images pique the curiosity and create a curio exploring old photographic techniques along with Prus’ curatorial mind.
By Richard Renaldi

I could not put this book down when I got my hands on the advance copy. I carefully explored each image to the end. Richard’s portraits explore the complexities of human relationships through unrelated strangers and it taught me more about myself than his subjects.
By Carolyn Drake

In Wild Pigeon, Drake includes her photographs along with drawings from unnamed contributors (for their safety) in a design that forces interaction from the viewer by requiring the restraint of the three-quarter page sections and “chapters” that switch from horizontal to vertical. Carolyn Drake and designer SYB have created an excellent follow-up publication to Drake’s first book and 2013 Best Book selection, Two Rivers.
Melanie McWhorter has managed photo-eye's Book Division for 17 years and is a contributor to the photo-eye Blog. She has been interviewed about photography in numerous print and online publications including PDN, The Picture Show and LayFlat, has judged the prestigious photography competitions Women Photojournalists of Washington's Annual Exhibition and Fotografia: Fotofestival di Roma's Book Prize, has reviewed portfolios at Fotografia, Photolucida, Review Santa Fe and PhotoNOLA, and taught and lectured at numerous venues.