Worlds between the covers

The credit crunch is not the ideal environment for high-end photography books, which is all the more reason to celebrate them at this year’s And/or Book Awards. The awards were rebranded last year with a new logo drawn by David Hockney, and winners will be announced later this month. According to photography category judge David Chandler, director of Photoworks, we are still in a buoyant phase of photography books. ‘The production standards and design quality is going up all the time. We will have to wait and see how the current recession affects things,’ he says. The wonderfully diverse photography category shortlist includes Brought to Light by Corey Keller et al, a series of 200 vintage images from photographers, scientists and inventors, which hark back to a past where photography, X-rays and films were still in their infancy; From Somewhere to Nowhere, in which Andreas Seibert documents China’s internal migrant workers’ lives over a period of several years; Susan Meiselas/ In History, an exploration of the great documentary photographer’s approach to her craft; and The World from my Front Porch, a personal photo-essay from Magnum member Larry Towell, featuring more than 160 photographs accompanied by an extensive autobiographical text. From the simple, uncoated dust jacket of Seibert’s book, to the stark, wrap-around imagery of the Meiselas and the tactile Edwardian album design of Towell’s tome (with cloth-bound, embossed cover), each title is also a testament to great design. ‘Design is often overlooked in photographic monographs,’ says Chandler. ‘”Let the pictures speak for themselves” is the mantra we so often hear.But design is vitally important, often in subtle ways which are not immediately obvious, and sometimes in beautifully imaginative ways that take the book out of the ordinary.’ The results of the And/or Book Awards will be announced on 23 April at BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1

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