Paul Graham's A Shimmer of Possibility: A Shimmer of Possibility has been hailed as game-changing. It was originally released as a 12 volume set of thin hardcovers in an expensive run of 1000. In May it was released as a single thick paperback, so the rest of us can now afford a copy. Though in its current form it denies the viewer the chance to consider some of the oddities of the original, like the volume that contains a single photograph, it still gives you a fine sense of Graham's undertaking. The volumes have now been changed into chapters with page breaks between. His subject matter is the everyday-- often the mundane, though occasionally the subtly miraculous-- and his images are often done in a snapshot style. For most of the chapters he chooses two seemingly unconnected events and alternates between them, following each action in a series of seemingly quick clicks of the shutter. The actions are so mundane as to be non-actions and the juxtapositions aren't necessarily obvious as to how they connect. The work is interesting, but I don't know if I'm fully on board with the idea that it's the best book of the decade. Had I not been told ahead of time how important the book was, I'm not sure I would have come to that conclusion on my own. Regardless, though, it is an interesting book and your time and money will be rewarded with the subtle layers of inquiry put forth by Paul Graham.
Philip Perkis' The Sadness of Men:
For years Perkis was what sometimes gets referred to as a photographer's photographer. He was incredibly well-respected and loved by those that know him and his work, but not well known to the larger art world. Luckily, in recent years that has been changing. The Sadness of Men is the culmination of thirty-five years worth of work. Perkis, who is also well known for his thin, poetic book on the nature of photography called Teaching Photography: Notes Assembled, makes photographs that are about the poetry of seeing. There is a quiet beauty to his work, and he has a tendency to fill the visual space of the frame with details, making complex, layered images that let the eye wander excitedly around making connections. His book is divided up into chapters as well, each labeled with a large roman numeral at the beginning of the section. The book is gorgeous and functions in a Robert Frank The Americans sort of way with each section making up a visual poem. For anyone interested in subtle beauty and amazing photographs, this book is highly recommended.
Images are copyrighted by Paul Graham and Philip Perkis respectively.