My books of the year-2013

blogEntryTopperThis year has been a very good year of for photography books. The picture above shows my top five. But the top place goes to Agnes Sire’s book on the Chilean photographer Sergio Larrain.

Published this year, one year after his death and some 40 odd years after he gave up professional photography, SERGIO LARRAIN is a welcome reminder of this man’s sensitive and poetic vision. I say reminder, but in truth, much of this work is new to me which makes it all the more exciting. Agnes Sire has collected around 200 works by Larrain. Most of the photographs were taken between 1951-1963 approx.


His photos have a lovely visual movement to them while at the same time placing the viewer in a contemplative space which is part of the genius of Larrain.


“A good picture is born from a state of grace. Grace becomes manifest when one is freed from conventions, free as a child in his first discovery of reality. The game is then to organize the triangle.” SL


The production values for this book are high. A comfortable size, 30 x 22cm, it handles well and the reproductions are quite fine. Layout design is unfussy, serving the work well. There are a number of double page spreads but I must say minimal damage is done to the many images due to content and the very good binding. In short the book looks good, feels good and is good.


As well as the photographs we find out about the photographer from copies of handwritten letters and photocopies of notebooks and texts which goes into his philosophy of life. An essay by Gonzalo Leiva Quijada tracing his life rounds off his portrait.

This is a book I will treasure, and learn from in the years to come.
Sargio Larrain published by Aperture 2013

Sergio Larrain Retrospective Rencontres d’Arles France

My other books of the year are:-

  • INTO THE ORIENT by Marc Riboud. Editions Xavier Barral See Blog
  • ONE PICTURS AT A TIME by Gunnar Smolainsky. Steidl. My discovery of the year. Review to come.
  • GENESIS by Sebastiao Salgado. Tashen See Blog
  • SUDEK -THE LEGACY OF A DEEPER VISION. Hirmer Verlag. Got late 2012 but I’ll include it for 2013


Marc Riboud - VERS L'ORIENT

blogEntryTopperIn 2009 at the age of 86, Marc Riboud received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sony World Photography Awards in Cannes France, his home country. In 2012, Editions Xavier Barral published Vers l’Orient (into the Orient) which focuses on early work by Riboud. In 1955 left France on a trip to the East, traveling to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China and Japan. In all it took him 3 years.


A Magnum photographer, he was mentored by none other than Henri Cartier-Bresson who encouraged him to go. This we find out in the Short essay the Riboud writes in the book. “I often found letters from Henri waiting for me at General Delivery in Kabul, in Jaipur, in Madras, in Ahmedabad, or in some Indonesian city whose name I forget.” 


As to the content of these letters, little is revealed. Riboud does tell us “Henri again as he was when I met him – infused with that determination to proclaim what he believed to be the right way to photograph, to look at painting, to understand a country, to shun the picturesque, to ‘think’ a story, to ‘organise it in the mind;’ and of course to see – to learn to see – form and beauty.” 



Editions Xavier Barral have presented this previously published work in the form of five books in a box. The books by themselves are small and unassuming. Measuring about 190mm square, each have about 64 pages.



The attention to detail is excellent from the beautiful linen cover to the lovely matt paper stock to the binding. All this combines to make the work feel precious, a quality which the work exudes. Riboud work has an elegance and poetry that is supported with this presentation.



The reader is well served and I can have only have the height of enthusiasm for this collection.

Marc Riboud website
Artsy info page

Contacts with Marc Riboud (YouTube)