Photo books of the month: June

PhotoQ Bookshop picks of the month

Established in 2013 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and part of World Press Photo since August 2019, the PhotoQ Bookshop specializes in documentary, journalism and art photo books.

The shop is run by Edie Peters, who gained his love for photography when he became chief photo editor at the Volkskrant in 1993. Since opening the Bookshop in 2013, Edie has shared his knowledge with enthusiasm, offering an agenda of events, which includes lessons, workshops, interview evenings and book signings.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 safety measures, the physical shop located at the World Press Photo House has been closed to the public since March.

In this article, Edie Peters shares his four recommended photo books of the month, available on the PhotoQ Bookshop online store

Chroma by John Divola

Chroma features a body of work that American contemporary artist and photographer John Divola started around 1980. Through the construction of visual metaphors, the series of images explores what he considers the unphotographable: “Gravity, Magnetism, which way water drains, and the things I see when I press my eyes with the palms of my hands.

For the series, Divola used a photographic process called Cibachrome, an industrial and artificial printing method used for the reproduction of film transparencies on photographic paper, resulting in deep color saturation and contrast. “It was a very flawed material for conventional images but with unique properties that I ended up embracing for the Chroma images,” the photographer says.

About the book, Edie Peters, PhotoQ Bookshop’s manager says: “Divola is looking for challenges: how to photograph invisible phenomena like gravity and magnetism, but also experiment with post production of analogue color material. An adventure that resulted in a very playful and beautiful book.”

Divola works primarily with photography and digital imaging. While he has approached a broad range of subjects he is currently focusing on landscape, looking for the oscillating edge between the abstract and the specific.

Chroma, John Divola, published by Skinnerboox, €37.00, is available here.

China Dream by Teresa Eng

China Dream explores the fragmented identities of the second generation diaspora as they straddle their native country and their country of origin. Between 2013-2017, Teresa Eng, whose parents immigrated to Canada from China via Hong Kong, sought out to explore her homeland. The book highlights the contrasts between the photographer’s knowledge of a country in which she has never lived and the reality of a country in flux. Each visit offered Teresa Eng an insight to a country that is in the process of building its future while simultaneously reconstructing and reinterpreting its past.

Teresa Eng’s style of photography leads us into a dreamlike story where contemporary reality, emotions, memories and reflection meet. We think we know China, but with the personal twist of Terea Eng we definitely start to doubt. And I love doubt because it makes you think.” says Edie Peters.

Teresa Eng is a Canadian/Chinese photographer based in London, United Kingdom, whose work explores change through personal histories. Working intuitively, Eng’s attention to the details in the world develops into a form of visual poetry. Her projects have explored the psychological state of trauma, the impact of technology on the representation of self, the fragmentation of identity in the diaspora communities, and the changing nature of neighborhood and cities.

China Dream, Teresa Eng, published by Skinnerboox, €47.00, is available here.

Summer Camp by Mark Steinmetz

Summer Camp features a collection of photographs capturing the spirit of youth during trips spent away at a summer camp. “Every year, from spring into summer, one would lead into another and certain things never changed… At summer camp, you have sleeping bags, cabins and camp res. There isn’t much difference between them in 1990 or 1965,” says photographer and book author Mark Steinmetz. In this book, Steinmetz explores the kids’ developing maturity around their 11 years old, the poignancy of their emotions, and the predicament of being a kid put into a certain situation.

Edie Peters says “The quality of Mark Steinmetz’ black and white photos is as overwhelming as the printing quality of the book. Every picture is a meeting with a young person who is playing and growing up to become an adult as well.”

Mark Steinmetz is an American photographer whose work observes people and places and captures moments of humor, tenderness, and beauty. Working in series, he has concentrated on such subjects as kids and teenagers, small American towns, summer camp, schoolteachers, and street scenes in Paris and various Italian cities. Though he has worked in color, he concentrates primarily on black-and-white film photography.

Summer Camp, Mark Steinmetz, published by Nazraeli Press, €60.00, is available here.

Des Oiseaux by Graciela Iturbide

This publication is part of the Des Oiseaux (On birds) collection which celebrates, through the vision of different artists, the birds’ presence in a world where they are now vulnerable. Graciela Iturbide’s approach features off-center compositions, graphic effects, and heavy shadows to create a poetic universe where a feeling of strangeness is combined with one of harsh reality. An organic dimension, linked to blood, flesh, mud, sweat, and the earth permeates most of Graciela Iturbide’s images for she has a special relationship with reality, choosing to capture unique moments with her lens.

Des Oiseaux is a series of books on birds published by the French Editions Xavier Barral. The selection of Graciela Iturbide not only shows the animals but also is an examination of the soul of her homeland Mexico.”

Graciela Iturbide is a major figure of Latin-American photography. She is known for her black and white photographs of people and places of her native Mexico.

Des Oiseaux, Graciela Iturbide, published by Editions Xavier Barral, €38.00, is available here.