The Annual Photography Book Roundup: Eye Candy Galore

March 1, 2009

By Laura Brauer

Photographers and photography lovers often have a strong urge to see and appreciate the works of others, and one of the most tangible ways of doing so is by collecting photography books. In this Annual Roundup of some of the latest offerings, we look at a variety of choices for aficionados of the art.

LOS TOROS  by Michael Crouser
Twin Palms Publishers (, Hardcover, 200 pages, ISBN-10: 1931885621, $60.00
Bullfighting is a sport that never caught on in the United States and never will, but its glory days are not quite over in many Latin and European countries—the glory of being a man or woman who can stand face-to-face with a raging, snorting beast intent on trampling you to dust. Michael Crouser captures the experience of watching these spectacles, and of being a part of them, in beautiful black-and-white plates in his book, Los Toros (The Bulls). Crouser compiled this publication over 16 years of visits to bullrings in France, Spain, Ecuador and Mexico. The images are worthy of museum display, and are accompanied with an introduction by author Mario Vargas Llosa.

HEROINES  by Bettina Rheims
Schirmer/Mosel, Hardcover (, 132 pages, ISBN-10: 3829602987, $65.00
Bettina Rheims seems gifted enough to make a book out of any subject she chooses. Fortunately, she chooses well. This large-dimensioned publication has Rheims taking 50 women wearing French haute couture in what could be best described as a “deconstructivist” style. The women, ranging from Laetitia Casta and Milla Jovovich, to Asia Argento and Lydia Hearst, Dita Von Teese and Beatrice Dalle, wear the expensive fashions of the Parisian Right Bank, but often not in ways in which one would expect, and sometimes not even completely over their bare bodies. Combined with this lassitude toward the actual clothing is smudged or ill-applied makeup and very frank poses that are often the antithesis of haute couture. But Rheims and her subjects remain fascinating, because even when being “unfashionable” and apathetic, the photographs redefine the entirely new, and often truer-to-life relationship women have with fashion.

NINE 9 by Josef Hoflehner
Most/Press (, Hardcover, 96 pages,
ISBN-10: 3902600039, $69.95

CHINA: LI RIVER by Josef Hoflehner
Most/Press (, Hardcover, 48 pages,
ISBN-10: 3902600047, $47.50

Printed in duotone, NINE 9 as well as China: Li River are photography tomes for lovers of black-and-white images, landscapes and travel. Travel is what Josef Hoflehner does extremely well, and his photos capture the beauty and exotic quality of locations as diverse as the Taj Mahal, the frozen lakefronts of Chicago and Toronto and the 250-mile long Li River in Guangxi, China. The pictures are often focused on one subject or detail such as a horse, stepping stones, a steeple, valleys, or cliffs, yet they also remain epic in scale, capturing (in the blink of an eye) the eternal nature of perceptions.

ARAKI GOLD  by Nobuyoshi Araki / Filippo Maggia (editor)
Skira (distributed by Rizzoli USA,, Hardcover, 240 pages, ISBN-10: 886130298X, $55.00
It’s often a true challenge to review many of Nobuyoshi Araki’s 250 books because his trademark topics range from bold female nudes and classic Japanese bondage images to flower portraits and mid-century street photo essays from the 60s and 70s. It’s debatable about which subject is the one for which he is best known: earthy nudes or composed portraits. This volume from Skira collects all of these widely diverging topics and many previously unpublished Araki photographs into one thick edition, allowing the reader to admire any or all that he or she chooses. Well produced and carefully selected, this is essentially a gallery tour in print of the world of Araki. Definitely not for everyone, but everyone who collects or shoots photography should be aware of it.

CUBA LIBRE  by Emmanuelle Béart / Sylvie Lancrenon
Schirmer/Mosel (, Hardcover, 88 pages, ISBN-10: 3829603754, $75.00
Cuba Libra is Spanish for “Free Cuba,” but it is also a popular cocktail. Emmanuelle Béart is a French actress and model who you’ve probably seen in various movies and magazines  like Mission Impossible and Un coeur en hiver (A Heart in Winter), but who doesn’t always stay in the North American public eye. This book from Schirmer/Mosel might change that situation. Shot by Elle magazine photographer Sylvie Lancrenon in a hotel room in Havana, Cuba, the “libre” portion of the book comes from the erotic and nude content of not only the images, but also the actress. With paper texture that is fibrous rather than glossy, it pairs well with the muted yet saturated colors of the photos. More than just a book of nudes, this is a book of summers imagined in a tropical land with drinks in hand—preferably a Cuba Libre.

FIVE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN  by Victor Skrebneski, introduction
by Hubert De Givenchy
Rizzoli (, Hardcover, 160 pages, ISBN-10: 0847831140, $50.00
Avedon, Weber, Ritts and Skrebneski are all known as some of the world’s most famous fashion and portrait photographers. Skrebneski was one of the earliest, and in his heyday he photographed many of the most famous faces in Hollywood and fashion, including Orson Welles, Truman Capote, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie. He was one of the original glamour photographers, becoming the exclusive photographer for Estée Lauder, and cementing his right to shoot images of the planet’s most beautiful women.

Five Women was originally published in 1987, and in it Skrebneski created a portfolio of Phyllis Connor, Karen Harris, Karen Graham, Shaun Casey and Willow Bay, models who were the epitome of style when they were shot in the early 60s, 70s and even the 80s. Looking at these long ago Great Gatsby-ish standards of American beauty, style and luxury, one can appreciate the aspirational experience that was evoked in both the viewers and the models. Beauty such as this is eternal.

PETER BEARD, Special Edition by Peter Beard, Nejma Beard, David Fahey
TASCHEN (, Hardcover, 784 pages,
ISBN-10: 383650877X, $100.00
TASCHEN has created another book that you must have, and I mean must. It is composed of two volumes in a cloth slipcase, all focusing on the work of renowned fashion photographer, wildlife expert, world traveler, jetsetter and son of New York, Peter Beard. Beard photographed and documented the deaths of over 35,000 elephants in his first book, The End of the Game.

Since then, most of what he has touched, filmed, or displayed has turned to gold, regardless of the topic. Volume 1 of this special edition includes 200 pages of diaries and 294 pages of collages, plus fold-outs. Volume 2 has an image index with captions for all pictures from Volume 1, personal photos and early work of the artist, an interview with Beard by Steven M. L. Aronson, and a facsimile reprint of his 1993 handwritten essay from the sold-out first issue of Blind Spot magazine. Keep in mind, this book was co-created by David Fahey of the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, and is a rework of another edition that was valued in the thousands of dollars. Two words: must have.

COUNTERPOINT by Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
Twin Palms (, Hardcover, 72 pages, ISBN-10: 193188577X, $65.00
The Architect’s Brother brought Robert ParkeHarrison to the forefront of photography and art. His sepia-tinted constructed fantasy images were truly the embodiment of imagination, as well as of set design and composition. In this new book, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison continue to explore some of the existential and environmental themes from the first book, but do it now both in color, as well as with their technique of directly applying pigment by hand to the prints. If at all similar in success to The Architect’s Brother, one can expect Counterpoint to be a classic.

SAN FRANCISCO by Brett Weston
Lodima Press (, Softbound, 32 pages, ISBN-10: 1888899166, $39.95
Pennsyvlania-based Lodima Press has published three books of photography that I highly recommend because, first, they include the works of well known and quite talented photographers. Second, they beautifully recreate the black-and-white images of the artists in a soft cover format that is a pleasure to hold and view. Third, they are well-priced. Fourth and finally, the subject matter is fascinating.

In Brett Weston’s San Francisco, the reader sees a set of 10 photographs of the City by the Bay from the 1930s, captured by Weston. It’s almost hard to believe they were taken over 65 years ago because the city has the same views, flavors, streets and even buildings as it did then.

OPERA NUDA by Keith Carter
Lodima Press (, Softbound, 34 pages, ISBN-10: 1888899255, $39.95
In Keith Carter’s Opera Nuda, he uses natural light and natural settings to shoot friends and acquaintances in the nude. These photographs are casual, relaxed, and capture, in effect, the natural radiance of the human form.

Lodima Press (, Softbound, 24 pages, ISBN-10: 1888899298, $39.95
Larry Fink’s Primal Elegance, on the other hand, does not capture the beauty of the human form. It instead captures the beauty of the praying mantis, one of nature’s most efficient and intriguing predators, often thought to have been designed by either an artist or a space alien. Fink is known for cutting edge work, and has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Musée de l’Elysee in Switzerland. It could be said that these lovely pictures of the mantis are some of his best pieces yet.

A.K. Crump has over 25 years of experience in photography and is founder and publisher of TCB-Cafe Publishing and TasteTV. His work has appeared on the front of American Photo magazine, and has been featured in publications such as Petersen’s PHOTOgraphic and Rangefinder magazines. Upcoming photo-based books from TCB-Cafe Publishing include The Cafés of San Francisco (3rd Edition), Heroes Smile and A Smile is Worth a Thousand Words.