Red Hook Editions
Disco Night September 11 by Peter van Agtmael, published by Redhook Editions, selected by Paul Moakley, deputy director of photography, TIME.Red Hook Editions
Red Hook Editions
A gardener of a small health clinic. American Marines were visiting to check if medical supplies were needed. The Captain and a doctor had a conversation about okra. The Marine praised the Afghan way of preparing the vegetable in a stew with tomatoes and caramelized onions. He told the doctor that at home in South Carolina he just deep-fried it. Garmsir, Helmand. Afghanistan. 2009
Night Walk by Ken Schles, published by Steidl, selected by Jason Eskenazi, photographer, author of By the Glow of the Jukebox: The Americans List.
"Ken Schles’ Invisible City captured the zeitgeist of New York just as Weegee and Klein did before him. His newest book, Night Walk, culled from work in his archive, transports us along the same streets during the same bygone era as Invisible City, but bring us to a new visceral destination. Night Walk, and a newly issued reprint of Invisible City―both capture the sensuous photo-gravure of the original Invisible City―and are published by Steidl."<br><br>-Jason Eskenazi, photographer, author of By the Glow of the Jukebox: The Americans List
Tiergarten byJohannes Schwartz, Published by Roma, Amsterdam, selected by David Strettell, founder and owner of Dashwood Books.
"Tiergarten was my favorite book of the year (so far).  Published from Roma the Dutch publisher which is run by designer Roger Willems and artist, Mark Manders.  Johannes Schwartz took photographs of meals fed to “wild” animals at the Moscow Zoo and printed them oversized on a Risograph press.  Risograph is usually reserved for zines and small scale books as the reproduction is very difficult to remain consistent. The colors tend to run unevenly and registration can shift from page to page leading to strange and unpredictable textures.  This effect is used to enhance the animals “slop” (slabs of fish, hunks of raw meat, heaps of vegetables and chunks of bread) into shifting abstractions of food, sometimes beautiful, sometimes repellent."<br><br>-David Strettell, founder and owner of Dashwood Books
Bronx Boys byStephen Shames, published byUniversity of Texas Press, selected by Vince Aletti, photography critic, The New Yorker.
"Shames went to the South Bronx on assignment for Look magazine in1977 and got hooked on what he calls its Òterrible beauty.Ó He went back again and again over the next 20 years, mostly to photograph a group of boys who became a kind of extended family. Two of them provide autobiographical texts; many never survived their rough and reckless youth--the brawls, drugs, guns, and random violence that turn this book into a frighteningly wild ride. Nearly all of ShamesÕs terrific black-and-white photographs are spread over two pages, where they have the edgy spontaneity of a cinema verite still, at once highly compressed and explosive. Like Bruce DavidsonÕs similarly immersive and impactful East 100th Street, the book already feels like a classic."-Vince Aletti, photography critic, The New Yorker
Car poolers byAlejandro Cartagena, self-published, selected by Martin Parr, Photographer at Magnum Photos.
"Although we have seen this work before, what a pleasure to see how this self published project, so cleverly combines the photos of the passing open plan trucks with their passengers laid out flat, but also the skies and scenes that can be viewed from the truck itself."<br><br>-Martin Parr, Photographer at Magnum Photos
Red String byYoshikatsu Fujii, self-published, selected by Larissa LeClair.
"The split binding allows the reader to page through one side and then the other, but the powerfulness comes from pairing both halves together. In this delicate and personal family album, Yoshikatsu Fujii ties the memory of his family back together with the cultural metaphor of red string."- Larissa LeClair
Congo byPaolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli, published by Aperture, selected by Alice Gabriner, International Photo Editor, TIME.
""-<br><br>-Alice Gabriner, International Photo Editor, TIME
Taxonomy of a Landscape byVictoria Sambunaris,published byRadius,selected by Phil Bicker, Senior Photo Editor TIME.
"Even when it comes to photo books I prefer small books— like note books and paperback novels, pocket sized—portable and unostentatious. This year there were several books —Thomas Roma and Giancarlo T. Roma - Waters of Our Time, Christoph Bangert - War Porn and Paul Graham - Does Yellow Run Forever?—that I responded to, not only for their photographic content, but through their carefully considered design, and their intimate size. But after much consideration I chose a book on a larger scale—one I wouldn’t mind if it were even bigger—that presents its content in an appropriately clean and modern manner.Victoria Sambunaris - Taxonomy of a Landscape is a dedicated exploration of, and response to the American Landscape. A fifteen year journey traversing the country —often for months at a time— that channels the intellectual and journalistic spirit of John McPhee’s writings, the inquisition and discovery of Robert Frank’s Americans and the great American photographic traditions of the U.S. Geological Survey in the late 1800s, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) of the 1940s. and the New Topographics movement. The photographic study includes national parks, industrial parks and a 2,000 mile stretch along the US, Mexican border—each documented from Sambunaris’ unique and impeccable perspective. In the age of drones and digital photography, one woman traveling the country alone by car with a 5x7 wooden film camera, has delivered a book for the ages."-Phil Bicker, Senior Photo Editor TIME.
III byRobin Maddock, published by Trolley Books, selected by Jason Fulford, Photographer and Publisher of J&amp;L Books.
-Jason Fulford, Photographer and Publisher of J&amp;L Books
- Michael Mack, founder of MACK books and MAPP digital editions
- Michael Mack, founder of MACK books and MAPP digital editions
L.A., 1971, byAnthony Hernandezpublished bySilas Finch Foundation, 2014, selected by Jeffery Ladd, photographer, writer and publisher of Errata Editions.
"How can a book comprised of twelve images of something so ordinary as people exiting a door in Los Angeles (that looks oddly at first like a bank vault) captivate interest and validate itself as a book? Anthony HernandezÕs LA, 1971 is a prime example. Is this an early work by the artist inspired and based in conceptualism or simply a string of images that share common elements and form? L.A. 1971 is a surprising and beautiful find from The Silas Finch Foundation."<br><br>-Jeffery Ladd, photographer, writer and publisher of Errata Editions
Red Ball of the Sun Slipping Down byEugene Richards, published byMany Voices Press,selected by Olivier Laurent, Editor, TIME LightBox.
""<br><br>-Olivier Laurent, Editor, TIME LightBox
Bedrooms of the Fallen
""<br><br>-Rich Conway, Reporter/Producer, TIME LightBox
Illustrated People byThomas Mailaender, published byRVB books, selected by Erik Kessles, curator and editor, co-founder of the advertising agency KesselsKramer.
"Thomas MailaenderÕs new book was made incollaboration with the Archive Of Modern Conflict in London, a gigantic imagecollection and occasional playground for photographers. MailaenderÕs hunt throughthe archive took him to the strangest places Ð photos that caught his eye forthe unusual. ÒIllustrated PeopleÓ collects these strikingpictures and intersperses them with imagery of MailaenderÕs own creation. Theseoriginal photos comprise body parts on display, the skin burned with a sun lampin such a way that it makes an image. Mailaender achieved this effect by takingnegatives from the archive and applying them with Vaseline to his subjectÕsbodiesÉ then turning up the heat. The resulting burns reveal naked men on hairylegs, a pensive portrait on a chest, and an odd landscape etched into ashoulder blade. Often, the images and bodies work together: the expansive backof an obese man is covered with pictures, and a defiant fist carries an equallydefiant soldier. Mailaender creates a rhythm by interspersinghis original images with the found pieces. The edit is fantastic and the finalbook leaves you truly disturbed and puzzled Ñ my criteria for a great photobook. ÒIllustrated PeopleÓ has burned its way into my brain."-Erik Kessles, curator and editor, co-founder of the advertising agency KesselsKramer
Invisible City byKen Schles, published bySteidl,selected by Michelle Molloy, International Photo Editor, TIME.
"The reissue of Invisible City is rich in texture and is every bit as intoxicating as that first visit to Schles’ East Village in New York City in the eighties. "<br><br>-Michelle Molloy, International Photo Editor, TIME.
This Equals That by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin, published byAperture, selected by Aaron Schuman, photographer, writer, curator, and the editor of SeeSaw Magazine (
“In This Equals That, Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin join a long yet underappreciated lineage of photographers and designers who have created publications aimed specifically at children, including Alexander Rodchenko, Claude Cahun, Edward Steichen, William Wegman, Cindy Sherman and many more.  Beautifully printed and produced – with the sturdy cardboard-covered tactility familiar to children’s picture books, and thankfully lacking the preciousness and pretention too often applied to many contemporary photobooks – This Equals That focuses attention not only on Fulford’s remarkably playful and captivating photographs, but more specifically on the relationships between them, and the newfound readings, meanings, interpretations, and conversations that reveal themselves when they are carefully sequenced, paired, and re-paired throughout the course of its pages.  The book serves as an exquisite masterclass in visual literacy – and in the intriguing potency of photographic observation, ambiguity, and association – for children and adults alike, and provides a unique reminder of both the fun and fundamental power of photography, which can be genuinely enjoyed and shared by all generations.”<br><br>-Aaron Schuman, photographer, writer, curator, and the editor of SeeSaw Magazine (
Pier Paolo Pasolini - La lunga strada di sabbia, published by Contrasto, selected by Yolanda Cuomo, Book Designer.
"The Memory of a book I left in ParisI spent days pouring through books at Paris Photo looking for my favorite book.Many photo books caught my eye; clever design, interesting origami folding books, tactile covers in multi colored fabrics, cool modern images.It was this book that I found that struck a cord; Pier Paolo Pasolini, La lunga strada di sabbia, published by Contrasto.Photographer Philippe Séclier follows a road trip taken by Pasolini 50 years ago along the Italian coastline. Séclier rediscovers the places along Pasolini's journey.I think of cinema and memory and how photographs are all traces of the past engrained in your mind.Séclier's photos are interwoven with ephemera by Pasolini; a letter he wrote in Ishchia, a page from his original manuscript.I recall a trip I took with my 16 year old son, Luca, along the California coast Route 1. He had found photos of specific sites, large boulders along the sea.It was our job to find the places in the photos and photograph them. It was an exciting journey based on photos and the adventure of rediscovering them.I love the idea of this book, La lunga strada di sabbia, writing, memories and journies taken in a timeless world."-Yolanda Cuomo, Book Designer.
Disco Night September 11 by Peter van Agtmael, published by Redhook Editions, selected by Paul Moakley, deputy director

Red Hook Editions
1 of 54

TIME Picks the Best Photobooks of 2014

In 2014, photobook collecting continued to thrive with even more photographers than ever breaking traditional formats and leveling the hierarchy of traditional publishing platforms by taking on all aspects of controlling and presenting their own work via self publishing.

This was made even more evident when many of TIME's editors selected the same books for this list, leading to the decision of highlighting, in addition to the 26 books presented here, one book that we felt stood out amongst the rest: Peter van Agtmael’s Disco Night September 11, which, not only, is an incisive and searing look at the state of America, still caught in maelstroms of war and its aftershocks, but also a distinctly original presentation of documentary work.

Van Agtmael self-published Disco Night September 11, like many of his contemporaries featured here, some of whom turned to crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter to set new records for support, encouraging artists to re-consider the photobook as a primary medium to share their message.

With peers and colleagues around the globe, we sought out to discover new titles and emerging artists presented at events such as the New York Art Book Fair and Offprint Paris, among countless other emerging fairs.

In this gallery, we spotlight the best photobooks of the past year as chosen by photographers and photography experts from around the world and, of course, by our photo editors at TIME. This is not a comprehensive list. Instead, these are personal choices made with the agonizing rule of selecting just one photo book for 2014 in its entirety.

Once again the selection confirms that many of us still enjoy being transfixed, or transported, by an encounter with a singular vision. After all, the pleasure and quiet thrill that one gets sitting down with a good book — especially one that pushes the boundaries of the format — simply can’t be reproduced in mere ones and zeroes.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.