A Road Divided, Photographs by Todd Hido
Nazraeli Press, Portland, 2010.
64 pages, 28 color illustrations, 14×17″.

It is a curious way to open a book: “…It is just as probable that I have also written the one–or two–best books I shall ever write. They are done with. That is how things go. And it is most unlikely that a second burst of inspiration will alter this irreversible fact…This is where the rest of life begins….”

Nevertheless, this is the epigraph that introduces Todd Hido’s latest monograph A Road Divided. Baudrillard’s words might suggest decline–a fall from greatness. In the case of A Road Divided it is just the opposite. Rather, it is as though we are invited to witness to a grande beginning. Hido’s monographs are often celebrated for their elegant design and the beautiful yet understated aesthetic that Nazraeli Press books are known for. Not only did they put out this most recent monograph, Nazraeli also published Hido’s 2004 series, Roaming. Years later, A Road Divided is a continuation or extension of the photographer’s earlier landscape work.

In this book, Hido returns to the aimless roads and empty terrains captured earlier in his career. The attenuated, windswept forms appear accented by a painter’s brush. This effect is achieved by ingenious use of the blurry, rain-streaked ‘lens’ of the artist’s car window. The monotone palette of each image serves to gather a wide spectrum of feelings and memories into each resounding image. We recall Emily Dickinson’s stark words: “Nature is a haunted house–but Art–is a house that tries to be haunted.”

Perhaps that is the difference between Hido’s past work and A Road Divided. The latter is an expansion, an avid embrace of life itself. It does not try, but truly haunts. Not only does A Road Divided feel more considered in terms of image sequencing, the photographs themselves possess a poignancy that registers on a higher level. As an object, the book is truly beautiful. We at PIP encourage you to ride shotgun with Hido, and take a ride.

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Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 223 user reviews.

The Mushroom Collector, Photographs by Jason Fulford
The Soon Institute, Amsterdam, 2010.
196 pages, 115 color illustrations, 9½x12½”.

“Ted found a manila envelope full of mushroom pictures at a flea market in New York. Why did he give me this treasure? I already owe him for so many things.” Jason Fulford’s question rings out from the pages of his most recent book, The Mushroom Collector. Known both as a photographer and as a publisher (J&L Books, a Photography in Print favorite) for his precise and confident eye, Fulford’s query seems almost ironic. But as one moves through The Mushroom Collector’s elliptical and thoughtful narrative, it becomes abundantly clear that Fulford is truly working through something.

The gift of the unassuming mushroom pictures permeate the entirety of the book, and about half-way through the larger design of the work reveals itself. The visual narrative of the book begins by offering us moments: a parade, a facade of a house, a car (or “an abstract wish, ” writes Fulford). It is only in the second half of the book that we are invited into the photographer’s internal universe, where objects from the material world are explored deeply and critically in the artist’s studio. You can almost feel the images vibrate with excitement as analogues emerge between Fulford’s own work and the mushroom pictures. It is electrifying to watch an artist decode and develop his own visual language within the pages of The Mushroom Collector. Alec Soth insists that this is not only the top photo-book for the year, but one of his all time favorites. We at PIP couldn’t agree more–go out and Collect!

The Mushroom Collector was printed by the Soon Institute in Amsterdam, where Fulford was involved in a 5-week residency in 2010. PIP can’t get enough of the work coming out of the Netherlands at the moment–we will continue to keep you tuned in and our eye towards the North Sea.

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Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 203 user reviews.

Boulevard, Photographs by Katy Grannan
Fraenkel Gallery & Salon 94, San Francisco, 2011.
44 pages, 38 color illustrations, 13×15″.

Katy Grannan’s recently released Boulevard speaks volumes. Boulevard’s cover whispers with a wonderful understated intensity–the image of Malaysia stares back through the book’s translucent jacket. The artist speaks for herself: “Yesterday I found Malaysia. I’d seen her several times before, on a lonely stretch of La Brea. There are so many like her: boulevard phantoms. The city drives by without seeing them…” Through Grannan’s lens these ‘phantoms’ are revealed, and given form by a ruthless and unfaltering gaze. Like her last large format book, The Westerners, one could say her newest book captures “freaks.” Yet Boulevard’s subjects elicit an entirely different response from the viewer than Grannan’s past work.

Grannan’s ‘boulevard phantoms’ are captured against blank white walls of sheet rock and stucco, placing her more in the tradition of Avedon than the oft-compared to Arbus. This stark backdrop serves to drown out the ambient noise of “celebrity culture.” Yes, a deteriorating Marilyn Monroe look-a-like and Malaysia’s heavily painted face recall the clichéd story of the star-gazer come to Hollywood in pursuit of fame, or some greater or lesser grail. But the more time you spend with the work, the more apparent it becomes that Katy’s work is about so much more than victims of the California Dream. Her subjects are not portrayed cruelly, but they exude a complicated mixture of aspiration, delusion, and disorientation. As the artist writes, “They thought it would be different here but the reality is crueler and far lovelier…”

Boulevard is printed by our friends at Fraenkel Gallery, and they present the work with the compassion and patience they are known for. Each subject appears on their own page, giving the viewer an opportunity to really look. We at PIP urge you to dive in, and let yourselves be haunted…

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Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 232 user reviews.

Before Color, Photographs by William Eggleston
Steidl, Gottingen, 2010.
200 pages, 152 Quadratone plates, 9”x10″.

In 1976, John Szarkowski wrote in the introduction to William Eggleston’s Guide: “I once heard William Eggleston say that the nominal subjects of his pictures were no more than a pretext for the making of color photographs … I did not believe him, although I can believe that it might be an advantage to him to think so, or to pretend to think so.” Traveling through Steidl’s recently released Before Color, we can see why one of Eggleston’s earliest champions saw something deeper in his black & white work. We pass by the broken woodlands of northern Mississippi and suburbs of Memphis, wide gray skies, vacant motels and half-empty diners, peacefully desiccating homes and the beginnings of asphalt jungles. While these are motifs that would come to shape Eggleston’s canonical color work, there is something enchanting about experiencing the master’s work with the color stripped away.

Steidl has put out some of the most significant books on photography, and Before Color is yet another testament to the press’ sophistication. The magnitude of the work covered is impressive, yet the book still manages to move at a nice pace. The page and a half bleeds coupled with the smaller side-by-side images create interesting relationships between the photographs. Steidl’s clever sequencing of the work facilitates our understanding of the larger project: namely, to uncover an artist’s developing visual vocabulary. And as always, the work is beautifully printed. All the plates in Before Color have been scanned from vintage prints developed by Eggleston in his own darkroom. The fact that these prints were made by the photographer himself adds another thrill to looking at the work. Before Color allows us to witness an emergence of a young photographer who would go on to define a generation, and offers us a second look at a world we thought we knew. -PIP

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Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 258 user reviews.


These Birds Walk Books
4096 Piedmont Ave #701
Oakland, CA 94611

Subscription Series

Series One: Jim Goldberg, Ari Macropoulos, Paul Schiek, and Mike Brodie

Series Two: Todd Hido, Marianne Mueller, Abner Nolan, and Alec Soth

These books do not need to be hyped up. The first series had a great look and feel to them, and somehow flew below the radar of most photobook enthusiasts. The model Paul Schiek (the mastermind behind TBW) is following seems closer to that of an indie rock label then a book publisher. Paul is completely grassroots, and uses a lot of local Oakland folk to produce the books. For both series he has secured an all star line up of photographers who believe in his do it yourself ideals.

Amazingly the first series (limited edition of 500) is still available, so you should scoop up a set before it is out of print. We would also recommend you purchase the second series for yourself, or any photobook lover. The best part of the subscription is every few weeks you get a new book in the mail. Paul has informed us that series two will have a slightly modified format. PIP is excited to see the new look, and thrilled that Todd Hido’s book is expected to ship next Monday, the 22nd of December.

Around this time of year a lot of people make list of the years top photobooks, and the result is fellow book lovers purchase those suggested books. If you are going to make one book purchase this year, or give a gift to any fan of photography this holiday season, the good folks at PIP think TBW’s Subscription Series is hands down the best choice possible. Support independent publishers! - PIP

You can purchase, and get more info about TBW’s Subscription Series at These Birds Walk

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 292 user reviews.


Other Nature Photographs by Ron Jude
The Ice Plant, Los Angeles, 2008.
80 pages, 35 color illustrations, 10½”x7″.

This book is a bit of a departure from Ron Jude’s last book Alpine Star, which consisted of appropriated photographs from a local newspaper. Here Jude is sharing large format landscapes in a beautifully designed book, brought to you by the good folks at The Ice Plant. The images are quiet, insightful, and reflect Jude’s ability to create compelling work, which has a story, but is not synthetic or heavy handed. Other Nature has it all, great images, thoughtful design, and an affordable price ($30.00). Pick up a copy for yourself, and one for any fan of art, photography, or books. -PIP

In his previous book, Alpine Star, photographer and publisher Ron Jude appropriated and recast a collection of his hometown newspaper photographs as a cryptically humorous meditation on the grey area between personal history and collective memory. Jude’s latest series of photographs, Other Nature, adds a more intimate, diaristic strain to this line of inquiry, combining two separate sets of his own 4 x 5 color pictures (made between 2001 and 2008) to create a subtle and uncanny investigation of the “slippery threshold of narrative” in still images. Drawing on the concerns of the New Topographics photographers, Jude’s accounts of anonymous motel rooms and the stranger regions of the American landscape could, on first glance, be mistaken for an ecological critique. But as the exterior and interior details of these environments (floral patterns, wood grain, sunlight) begin to activate, interrupt and inform each other, the book shifts into a more abstract, subjective register, provoking reflections on photography, the visible world and things hovering just outside our physical perception. -The Ice Plant

Ron Jude was born in Los Angeles in 1965 and spent his early years as a ski racer in the Pacific Northwest. His photographs have been exhibited at the Photographer’s Gallery (London), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta) and Roth/Horowitz Gallery (New York), and have been published in numerous magazines including The New Yorker, Blind Spot, Nest and DoubleTake. Jude is the co-founder of A-Jump Books (www.a-jumpbooks.com) and the author of Alpine Star and Postcards. He currently lives and works in upstate New York.

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Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 182 user reviews.


Year One Photographs by Thobias Faldt
Steidl, Gottingen, 2009.
240 pages, 120 color illustrations, 8¾x10¾”

Keep an eye out for Thobias Faldts book Year One from Steidl. Hopefully by the release Steidl will figure out how to spell his name. We really like this young photographers work, and are excited to get our hands on his first major monograph. -PIP

Thobias Fäldt collects photographs and compiles them, like notes in a diary, into stories and narratives. It is never clear whether they are his own images and experiences or simple collations of found imaginery. Together they culminate in a one fictional year of a life, Year One. -Steidl

Year One will be available in 2011

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 256 user reviews.

Widerness Photographs by Mischa de Ridder
Artimo, Amsterdam, 2003.
72 pages, 54 color illustrations, 12”x14½″.

This book was published five years ago, and we are shocked that it is still available. It has a series of 18 wonderful landscapes, and a set of double sided pages that can be removed to form two different wall sized photographs. The pieced together image is not a Gursky, but it would make any dentist from the 70’s envious, and have flashbacks of their waiting room. In the current economical climate you probably will hold off on buying that Gursky, but you can afford to purchase this book before it’s out of print. Right now, Wilderness is a steal at $42…add one to your collection. -PIP

In this book, lushly photographed flora isolated in nature alternates with enlarged details from the wilderness compositions that emphasize the four-color separation methods used in commercial printing. The detail pages encourage appreciation for the graphic qualities of the quiet views of undeveloped nature where tree bark ridges and layered flowering branches become organic patterns. The book’s pages are perforated for easy removal as the included images can be assembled to create two wall sized installations, each 1644 x 2082 mm (64.5 x 82.1 inches). -Artimo

Wilderness is available at Ooga Booga

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 259 user reviews.

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