Books on African Photography / Photographers

March 26th, 2010

African Photography

a selection of books on African photographers/photography

I just received my review copy of Zwelethu Mthethwa’s monograph published by Aperture. So excited! This is his first monograph and a monograph I have been waiting for for years. Joerg Colberg recently reviewed the book on his blog Conscientious and my review will be published by photo-eye. Colberg, or anyone for that matter, should definitely not be looking at traditional media for guidance in learning about the nuances, diversity, vibrant culture, art, and photographic discourse of Africa. About the monograph he said, “I really hope that Zwelethu Mthethwa will not be the last book of its kind, showcasing photography done by African artists. We need to see more.” I agree, in the sense that we need more monographs. Where are monographs for Lolo Veleko and Philip Kwame Apagya for example.

My interest in contemporary African photography developed in graduate school. Okwui Enwezor is my favorite curator. Half of my photography collection is dedicated to African photographers and I have a wide range of books on African photography. In light of Colberg’s search and a recent #photohistory discussion on Twitter, I wanted to offer a partial list of books dedicated to African photography from my library – a good place to start for anyone interested in this history of photography.

Snap Judgments (ICP/Steidl, 2006)

Rencontres Bamako 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009

Anthology of African & Indian Ocean Photography (Revue Noire, 1998)

In/sight: African Photographers 1940 to the Present (Guggenheim Museum, 2003)

The Short Century (Prestel, 2001)

Flash Afrique! Photography from West Africa (Steidl, 2002)

You Look Beautiful Like That: The Portrait Photographs of Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibe (Harvard Art Museum, 2001)

Africa Inside (Noorderlicht, 2000)

Malick Sidibe: Photographs (Steidl/Hasselblad Center, 2004)

J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere Photographs (Scalo, 2000)

Fifty-One Years: David Goldblatt (Actar, 2001)

“Talk of the Town: Seydou Keita” by Manthia Diawara in Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace (MIT Press, 1999)

Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art

and of course Zwelethu Mthethwa (Aperture, 2010)

And you can read about James Pomerantz’s class on African Photography on his blog A Photo Student.

I would love to hear from anyone about this subject. Please get in touch if you are a photographer, curator, writer, scholar, etc. I am specifically interested in what material/photographers are out there from East Africa.

Book Review: Bird Watching by Paula McCartney

March 6th, 2010

Bird Watching Paula McCartney bookBird Watching
Photographs by Paula McCartney. Texts by Darius Himes and Karen Irvine
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2010
120 pp., 40 color illustrations, 8×10″

Paula McCartney has been making unique and limited edition artist books for many years. She sees the book as a medium and visualizes much of her photographic work in book form, many of her photographs exist only in the artist book. McCartney’s first trade edition, published by Princeton Architectural Press, will be welcomed by individual collectors interested in McCartney’s work, as it is both affordable in comparison to her artist books and beautiful. The monograph is an expanded version of her artist book Bird Watching and includes every image from the series. Mimicking a private field guide journal, McCartney takes the reader on the most successful bird watching quest, or so it seems at first glance.

Paula McCartney
McCartney meticulously notes all the necessary details for credible bird watching – name, location, date, size, coloring and remarks. She also includes drawings, diagrams, plant specimens, a life list, and journal-like notes about her bird watching travels. What makes this book obviously much more than a personal field journal are the added elements of context – essays by Karen Irvine and Darius Himes, the playfully subtle references to the creative fiction McCartney has crafted (the map of “Migration Patterns of a Bird Watcher”), and, of course, the photographs. No bird watcher could ever capture what McCartney has captured in her images. McCartney set up her camera just feet away from the birds – an unrealistic closeness – as though she said, “Hey bird, stay right there. Let me take your picture. Could you move a little more to the left on that branch? Okay. Great. That’s the shot!” McCartney has taken the watching, the waiting, and the long lens out of bird watching to create stunning photographs of forests and brush with perfectly placed birds – and I do mean placed. McCartney has wired these birds to their branches in the real natural environment. As opposed to McCartney’s earlier series “Bronx Zoo” of real birds in constructed habitats, she reverses the elements, putting faux birds in the real environment and does so in a much more convincing way than pink flamingo lawn ornaments or deer statues on the woodland edge of a suburban lawn.
Paula McCartney
Realizing this forgery, I started to question many things in the book. Can one actually find a Northern Cardinal in Oregon at all? Are the plant specimens real? I am caught up in McCartney’s fictitious creation, but I don’t mind. I quietly observe the peaceful birds in what may or may not be their natural habitat, and find humor in the flatfooted Winter Bluebirds wired onto their tree branches. Unworldly skill would be needed for McCartney to have captured the exact transitional moment when a bird releases its grip from the branch before it starts to hop or fly away.

I’m not an armchair traveler but I am definitely an armchair bird-watcher with Paula McCartney’s Bird Watching, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Originally published in photo-eye magazine, March 5, 2010. Books can be purchased through photo-eye.

Bird Watching is on view at KLOMPCHING March 4-April 23, 2010; Paula McCartney and Darius Himes discussion and book signing March 6, 2010 from 1-2pm at the gallery. That’s today!

An interview with Paula McCartney about visualizing her work in book form and her journey in making the artist book Bird Watching into the trade edition is included in the forthcoming book Publish your Photography Book! by Darius Himes and Mary Virginia Swanson, also by Princeton Architectural Press, Fall 2010.

Radius Books Holiday Party and Sale

December 3rd, 2009


RADIUS BOOKS hosts it’s 3rd annual anniversary party and all are invited!

What Radius Books annual party and holiday book sale: all titles 30% off!
When Friday, December 4, 2009 5–8 pm
Where 519 Cerrillos (in the old Luna building, across from Hotel Santa Fe), Santa Fe, NM

This event coincides with the release of three new Radius books: a major monograph on Venice-based painter Ed Moses who has been a major influence on the southern California art scene for over 50 years, Bingham Mine / Garfield Stack, by Bay Area-based photographer Michael Light, and the photographic duet Violet Isle, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb.

Meet the Artists: Joan Watts, Judy Tuwaletstiwa, Johnnie Winona Ross, Michael Light, and John McCracken will all be on hand to sign copies of their books.

For more information contact us at 505 983 4068 or

If you can’t make it to Santa Fe tomorrow night, Radius is also offering 30% off on all online orders. Click here to get the super secret discount code and also sign up for the Radius Books newsletter.

Start your holiday shopping. Transfigurations by Michael Lundgren is on my wish list!


November 30th, 2009

Planets ©Elizabeth Fleming

Planets © Elizabeth Fleming

After the rush of the past holiday, I took a moment to listen to Elizabeth Fleming’s interview at Thoughts on Photography. Her most well-known body of work, “Life is a series of small moments” (as seen in Aline Smithson’s piece @too much chocolate, UNseen curated by Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Blurb PBN Honorable Mention, Center’s Singular Image Award 2009, etc. etc.) is a wonderful narrative of childhood, as seen through moments of the fantastical and happenstance and their intersection with the reality of daily life and raising children. These moments are the in-between moments, the indescribable moments, moments that to an untrained eye would not be worth photographing. But they are what make Elizabeth’s work so special. Her photographs encapsulate a feeling. Listening to her describe her photographs and the process behind photographing, I reflected on my own family and children and those moments that have floated away. In retrospect, I always wish to have captured more.

The day after Thanksgiving was StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening which encouraged the public to capture – with audio – an interview, conversation, or story of a family member. As a visual person I must remember that sound recordings are also a meaningful way to document moments. Genevieve Russell of StoryPortrait Media has been documenting me and my moments over the last ten years. Through still photography, video and audio recordings, she has a way of capturing those moments you never remember happening but that you always want to remember.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Elizabeth Fleming in reminding me to cherish those moments, and for Genevieve Russell in helping me remember them.

© Genevieve Russell

© Genevieve Russell

Darius Himes and Chris Colville TONIGHT at FotoWeek DC

November 12th, 2009



Blagden Alley map.
FotoWeek DC listing.
More info.

Blurb Photography.Book.Now Winners at FotoWeek DC

November 11th, 2009

Blurb at FotoWeek DC

I love photography books and this year for FotoWeek DC I was part of the Photobook/Publisher Exhibition Committee. Over 250 books are being displayed this week at FotoWeek DC on M Street in Georgetown from over 50 publishers. A unique inclusion this year, spearheaded by myself, are the Photography.Book.Now 2009 Winners. What amazing work! Congratulations to all the winners.

“Photography.Book.Now is an international juried self-published book competition, and a celebration of the most creative, most innovative, and finest photography books – and the people behind them.” The competition organized by Blurb and run by lead judge Darius Himes considers self-published books in three categories – Fine Art, Editorial and Commercial. More than 2400 submissions from 50 countries were entered in the competition. Rafal Milach, the Grand Prize Winner, won $25,000. Coincidentally, the FotoWeek DC exhibition InsideOutside: New Images from Russia, curated by Lucian Perkins, includes work by Rafal Milach.

Rafal Milach

Rafal Milach

Kurt Tong

Kurt Tong

  • Black Sea of Concrete by Rafal Milach – Grand Prize Winner
  • People’s Park by Kurt Tong – Editorial Category Winner
  • Pose by Andrea Stultiens – Editorial Category 1st Runner Up
  • In Case It Rains in Heaven by Kurt Tong – Editorial Category 2nd Runner Up
  • F Ampersand by Duwayno Robertson – Editorial Category People’s Choice Award
  • i sell fish. by Joshua Deaner – Fine Art Category Winner
  • Some Fox Trails in Virginia by Susan Worsham – Fine Art Category 1st Runner Up
  • +walker evans +sherrie levine by Hermann Zschiegner – Fine Art Category 2nd Runner Up
  • Capturing the Light by Lewis Kemper – Fine Art Category People’s Choice Award
  • Volume One by Dennis Kleiman – Commercial Category Winner
  • Editorial Stories by Michael Creagh – Commerical Category 1st Runner Up
  • portfolio by Sara Lando – Commercial Category 2nd Runner Up
  • JASON JOSEPH photography by Jason Joseph – Commercial Category People’s Choice Award

Melanie McWhorter and “LAUNCH” at Honfleur Gallery

November 7th, 2009

photo by Andrea Bruce

photo credit: Andrea Bruce

Honfleur presents “LAUNCH” by Women Photojournalists of Washington

FOTOWEEK: November 7th – 14th
FOTOWEEK DC Opening Reception: November 7th @ 7pm

As WPOW evolves from a local organization into a national nonprofit, the show represents the organization’s mission to connect to and educate the public of the work of women photographers, appropriated titled Launch. Members entries were to embody the words “embark, initiate, introduce and propel” as the theme of this show.

This show was generously curated by Susanne Miklas (Newsweek’s Deputy Director of Photography), Melanie McWhorter (Photo-Eye’s Book Division Manager) and Pamela Chen (Photography and Multimedia Producer for the Open Society Institute.)

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Astrid Riecken, Allison Shelley, Abby Greenawalt, Ashley Twiggs, Algerina Perna, Amanda  Lucidon, Andrea Bruce, Carol Guzy, Gabriela Bulisova, Jamie Rose, Katie Falkenberg, Laura Elizabeth Pohl, Melina Mara, Sarah L.Voisin & Yanina Manolova

I briefly caught up with Melanie McWhorter, one of the curators of the exhibition and friend from my Santa Fe days, to ask her a few questions.

I’m excited to see that you are part of FotoWeek DC this year! You are one of the curators for the Women Photojournalists of Washington exhibition “Launch” at Honfleur Gallery. How did you get involved?
Melanie: Susana Raab is a member of this organization and she emailed to see if I would be interested. I was an admirer of her work and was lucky that she signed up for me to take a look at her portfolio at PhotoNOLA. From the meeting, she and I developed an even deeper level of respect for what each person does in the “photo world”. Her work was included online at photo-eye and I included her in a group show for Fraction. She suggested me as a juror for WPOW competition. I was invited by Beth, the coordinator, to be a juror for the annual competition of WPOW themed Launch. I was honored to be the only juror not directly involved in the fields of documentary or photojournalism.
Can you talk about some of the photographers included in the show.
Melanie: Well, it is difficult to judge the strength of a photographer’s aesthetic or their ability to effectively use the photographic medium with just one image and within the confines of a themed exhibition. I was pleased to see a few images included by Amanda Lucion, Carol Guzy and Gabriela Bulisova and that many of them fit into the given theme of the exhibition. Lucion’s images of migrant workers revealed the hardships of this lifestyle. Guzy included captions for each image giving much needed context to the photographs of the women of Sierra Leone in a project she calls “Birth & Death”. Finally, Bulisova’s images, much less descriptive and even “artsy”, shows of the plight of Iraqis in the US.
Will you be at the opening?
Melanie: I wish I could be at the opening. Fotoweek will be an exciting time in DC.

A selection from Melanie McWhorter’s picks for the WPOW Annual Competition:

© Ashley Twiggs
Deborah Stockton holds one of her ducks on her farm in Ivy, Virginia. Stockton is a board member of Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association that promotes farmer-to-consumer trade. She says that Albemarle County, Virginia could feed itself several times over with food grown and raised locally.
© Andrea Bruce
Six years ago they were fishermen, not ferrymen. But now, in the Haifa neighborhood of Baghdad, sewage runs through the narrow alleyways directly into the river. Waterside restaurants stand abandoned, their owners still afraid to open their doors. The fish have disappeared.
© Carol Guzy
“Every minute, every hour, pregnant women die in Sierra Leone.” -Amadu Sesay, brother of Jemelleh Saccoh who died giving life. Women lay on threadbare gurneys in a ward infested with mosquitoes and the stench of urine and death. Bintu Kamara, 28 years old, waits in the labor ward of Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown. She survived an emergency C-section but her baby was stillborn.
© Gabriela Bulisova
Three generations of Iraqi women — a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter — were violently separated and forced to flee to three different countries. Now, after three years of experiences none of them want to recall, they are finally living together as new American residents. However, even in the United States, they live in hidden exile, unable to reveal their identities for fear of being discovered by their male relatives and Iraqi anti-American forces. The mother, a former Coalition Provisional Authority employee, was labeled a “collaborator” and targeted with assassination attempts. They rely on their strong Christian faith to remain hopeful about their future in the U.S.
© Yanina Manolova
After Molly Hoopes, 18, a heroin addict, spent 28 days in prison, she was court-ordered to live at a residential treatment center for adolescent addiction known as “Bassett House,” in Athens, Ohio. A month earlier, her twin sister, Morgan Hoopes, was in treatment at this same facility for drug addiction. “I came here the day she left. We’ve never been apart for more than 12 hours until we were sent to jail. I’m court- ordered not to see her and can’t talk to her. She was sneaking drugs to me. But I love Morgan. She is the only person I want to be with,” Molly Hoopes said.
Thank you Melanie for answering my questions in the midst of releasing flash flood: issue two! Check that out here. And come to the opening for “LAUNCH” tonight!

FotoWeek DC / Christopher Colville

November 6th, 2009

Chris Colville opening

FotoWeek DC opens tonight in Georgetown along M Street and I am busy wrapping up things for the Publisher Exhibition of contemporary photobooks including the 2009 winners of Blurb’s Photography.Book.Now competition, a post about Melanie McWhorter and her curatorial role in the exhibition Launch at Honfleur Gallery that opens tomorrow night during FotoWeek DC, and my own curatorial venture – Christopher Colville -  that opens this Thursday November 12. I look forward to seeing many of you there. Blagden Alley is hard to find. The alley is between 9th and 10th Street NW and you can enter from M Street or N Street. The closest metro is Mt Vernon Sq 7th St-Convention Center Station on the Green and Yellow lines. Here is the map.

Radius Books / Violet Isle

November 5th, 2009



IMG_1249Radius Books has just published Violet Isle, a poetic photographic portrait of Cuba, by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb. This unique softbound book with a recycled cardboard-esqe slipcase is yet another great example of Radius’ creative approach to photography book design. Ricco Maresca Gallery in Chelsea is hosting the book launch party and reception for the exhibition this evening, Thursday, November 5 from 6-8pm. The exhibition at Ricco Maresca will be up until January 2, 2010. There is also a gallery talk and book signing this weekend at the gallery on Saturday from 4-6pm.

If you are in DC next week, Violet Isle, as well as seven other recently published titles by Radius Books, will be on display in the Publisher Exhibition of FotoWeek DC at 3333 M Street NW. Darius Himes will also be in town giving a talk, “Who Cares About Books?” on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 5pm at 1215 Blagdens Alley NW. Come by!

Parsley Steinweiss

November 2nd, 2009

© Parsley Steinweiss

"Contact Sheets" © Parsley Steinweiss

The voting for Critical Mass 2009 technically wrapped up today and I was pleased to be one of the reviewers this year. I took my time and looked through work from the selected 175 photographers over the last few weeks. It has been both exhausting and amazing. One photographer on my “Wow” list was Parsley Steinweiss and her “Stacks” series.

About her work, she states, “I have always found it natural to look at things from a close perspective. By cropping my subjects closely I become intimate with them and also abstract them. By this treatment, familiar subjects become unrecognizable and require new investigation. The shape-shifting ambiguity made possible by the photographic lens resonates with my general sense of a world unseen by the naked eye, a world of possibilities. As a general theme I am interested in patterns of growth. Over the past couple of months I have been stacking things and taking photographs of the various accumulations.  The photographs catalog documents that surround me: books, papers, magazines, journals, sketchpads and photographs. In “Contact Sheets” I have stacked hundreds of photographic contact sheets and prints that I have created over the past ten years. The result is a series of lines, each representing a print that I have made, a sedimentary record of creative growth.”

Jen Bekman’s 20×200 Wednesday edition last week featured Parsley Steinweiss and her “Contact Sheets” photograph. You can own an 8″x10″ print, in an edition of 200, for just $20! Just click here.

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