The Best Photo Books of 2011

Subscribe to ShahidulNews


Our 50 Favorite Books of 2011

In this always-on age of tweets and tumblogs and tablets, of Flickr and Facebook, of ?reality? programming and insta-celebrities, we?d like to pause a moment and look at some books. Remember books? Remember breathing?

Documentary & Photojournalism

Views of a changing world from its most curious and insistent witnesses


? Phil Borges
From “Tibet: Culture on the Edge”

Tibet: Culture on the Edge,?Phil Borges
In his fifth monograph, Borges explores both the indigenous lifestyles of the Tibetan people and their grand surroundings?each threatened by forces including industrial development, climate change and ongoing political tension between Tibet and the People?s Republic of China. Forged over 17 years of periodic visits, Borges?s affinity with the hardy natives informs the book?s illuminating text and warm portraits alike.?$45
Is This Place Great or What, by Brian Ulrich
(See our interview with Brian and additional samples from?Is This Place Great or What here).?In a decade-long survey of American consumerism, Ulrich casts a wry eye on the nation?s shoppers and employees in big-box outlets and thrift shops?contrasting boom-years decadence and bust-years desolation with chilling irony.?$50
My Journey as a Witness, by Shahidul Alam
Seeking to preserve justice and human rights through the power of the lens, Alam depicts cultures of Bangladesh, China and Pakistan in compassionate black-and-white images punctuated by saturated color bursts.?$50
Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures, by the Photographers of VII,
Since its founding in 2001, independent photo agency VII has been responsible for some of the decade?s most significant documentary photography, as evidenced by this hefty collection of images from Alexandra Boulet, Ron Haviv, John Stanmeyer, Christopher Morris and others.$75
Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17, by Francesc Torres
National Geographic
The human impact of 9/11 is painted in relief through these poignant images of objects removed from New York City?s Ground Zero and stored at JFK airport, waiting to to be documented by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.?$50
The New York Times Magazine Photographs,?edited by Kathy Ryan
Covering three decades, this volume showcases The New York Times Magazine?s reliable blend of ambitious photojournalism and inventive illustrative work.?$75


Thames & Hudson

Afterwards, edited by Nathalie Herschdorfer,
Thames & Hudson
Photographers are naturally drawn to shooting disasters, not so much to what happens next. This aching collection spanning
60 years shows what happens when they stick around.?$50
Inauguration,?by Catherine Opie
Gregory R. Miller
Opie commemorates the inauguration of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, in shots of personal candor and celebratory energy.?$50
Hard Ground,?by Michael O’Brien,
University of Texas Press
O?Brien turns his lens on the homeless, lending them a quiet dignity in portraits made all the more moving by poetry from singer-songwriter Tom Waits.?$40


? Pieter Hugo
From “Permanent Error”

Permanent Error,?by Peter Hugo
Documentarian Hugo delivers a gripping account from Ghana: At the Agbogbloshie dump outside Accra, men and children filter through electronic waste for scraps and metal that can be melted down and sold for tiny profits. The haunting scenes from these breathtakingly toxic waste grounds powerfully signal the hazards of electronic consumption and planned obsolescence.?$50
A Window on Africa: Ethiopian Portraits,?by Hans Silvester,
Thames & Hudson
Silvester?s portraits of natives reveal their steely characters and changing lifestyles in the face of modernity.?$40

Win a copy of "My Journey as a Witness"

Subscribe to ShahidulNews


Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam?s first UK retrospective ? picture feast

The first UK retrospective of works by internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam is on at London?s Wilmotte Gallery until December 2011.?Art Radar brings you a selection of portraits and accompanying wall texts from the exhibition.
Click here to read more about the artist and the exhibition, called ?Shahidul Alam: My Journey as a Witness?, on Wilmotte Gallery?s website.

'Nurjahan's father', Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Nurjahan’s father’ (portrait), Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

It was reported in the papers as suicide. On 10 January 1993 Nurjahan, a woman in her twenties from a struggling peasant household from the Maulvi Bazar district of north-east Bangladesh, was found dead from poisoning at her parents? house in the village of Chatokchora.
Nurjahan Begum, 7th among 9 daughters, had been married five years before the incident. However, her husband abandoned her and she returned home to live with her parents. Later, her parents arranged another marriage for her, but since polyandry is forbidden by Muslim law, it was necessary to discover whether her first marriage had been properly dissolved. Nurjahan?s father consulted the village imam (religious leader), who declared that she was free to marry. However, he revoked this later and claimed that the marriage was illegal because the first still stood. A shalish (village council for settling disputes and trying offending villagers) met to judge whether Nurjahan and any of her family members had broken the law. The shalish found Nurjahan guilty of fornication, on the grounds that she was still married to her first husband; after debating the punishment, it decided that 101 pebbles should be thrown at Nurjahan and her second husband.
Pebbles were preferred to stones since the intention, reportedly, was to shame the couple rather than hurt or kill them. Nurjahan?s parents were also to be punished; the shalish decreed that they should be beaten with a broom. Nurjahan was made to stand in a hole that was then filled, half burying her, to receive her punishment. As she did so a member of the shalish approached her and castigated her for the shame she had brought on her family. She was not fit to live and should kill herself. Nurjahan was found dead the next day.
Rahnuma Ahmed, public anthropologist and writer

'Ali Zaman' (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Ali Zaman’ (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.

In 2006 I returned to the Siran Valley in Kashmir eight months after I had first been there photographing the advent of winter. The land was full of new crops, but many of the homes were still to be rebuilt. Ali Zaman and his friends had gathered in a tea stall. Old friends chatted over a cup of tea. Zaman was one of many who had thought he was witnessing ?Keyamat? (doomsday). The phone booth outside, was a telephone under the open sky. A barber had set up shop amidst the rubble. School children sat around a blackboard propped up in a field. People got on with their lives.
Shahidul Alam

'Horipodo? (portrait), Shondeep, Bangladesh, 1991. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Horipodo? (portrait), Shondeep, Bangladesh, 1991. ? Shahidul Alam.

The cyclone shelter was packed with people, mostly women and children, some crying, others screaming. Amid the chaos, came a loud knock. We struggled to open the door against the wind. The night sky was bearing down on the small gap we had made. A man pushed his way in as we struggled to lock the door again. He was a strong burly type, but he was shaking. ?Give me a biri? he said. I got angry. ?Can?t you see what?s happening here? The state people are in? And you want a smoke?? He wasn?t cruel, but his stare was cold. ?agaro jon re puita aisi. biri de.? (I?ve buried eleven. Just hand me a biri).
Shahidul Alam

'Ship breaking worker' (portrait), Rahman Yard, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Ship breaking worker’ (portrait), Rahman Yard, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. ? Shahidul Alam.

Development isn?t simply about money. What about developing mutual respect? Enabling equitable partnerships? Providing enabling environments for intellectual exchange? What about creating awareness of the underlying causes of poverty? These are all integral parts of the development process. When all things are added up, cheap images providing clich?d messages do more harm than good. They don?t address the crucial issue: poverty is almost always a product of exploitation, at local, regional and international levels. If poverty is simply addressed in terms of what people lack in monetary terms, then the more important issues of addressing exploitation are sidelined.
Lacking the advantages of our Western counterparts, image-makers in the Global South have had to rely on ingenuity and making-do in order to move from being fixers, to authors in their own right. We have had to be pioneers. The Sanskrit word ?Drik? means vision, inner vision, and philosophy of vision. This vision of a more egalitarian world, where materially poor nations have a say in how they?re represented, remains our driving force.
Shahidul Alam

'Hemayetpur peep hole', Hemayetpur, Pabna, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Hemayetpur peep hole’ (portrait), Hemayetpur, Pabna, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

In 1994 Dr A.K.M. Abdus Samad, director of the Hemayetpur mental hospital in Pabna, Bangladesh, was pragmatic ? ?An average of 2 percent of all populations is schizophrenic and of course there are many other mental ailments. In this country of 130 million, we have one hospital with 400 beds. What do you expect? The government?s allocation for food is 18 taka per day (about 45 US cents at the time). Many mental patients are hyperactive and require more food. A good portion of that 18 taka goes to the contractor. The remainder has to provide three meals a day. So what can I do? I make sure they get plenty of rice. That way at least their stomachs are full. We have little money for drugs and virtually no staff for counselling, so we keep them doped. Then they don?t suffer as much.?
Shahidul Alam

'Champa: Naxalite series' (portrait), Jessore, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Champa: Naxalite series’ (portrait), Jessore, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

The Naxalite movement was going to liberate them. It was a fight against oppression. Champa would dress up as a boy to sneak into the party meetings and listen to the speeches. She was one of many who left home to join the party. This movement was different. Women could be leaders, and take part in battle. Weddings were simple affairs. With a hand shake and a salute. Champa had been a leader, but when the party disbanded, they had nowhere to turn to. They had burnt their bridges.
Shahidul Alam

'Girl in wheat field' (portrait), Bangladesh, 1997. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Girl in wheat field’ (portrait), Bangladesh, 1997. ? Shahidul Alam. Continue reading “Win a copy of "My Journey as a Witness"”