Erik Kessels photobook selection 2014

Erik Kessels has kindly shared his favourite photobooks from the past year:

Still – Kasia Klimpel


A very precise and well-thought publication made by Kasia Klimpel. The book shows in an indirect way that photography can be a liar. Klimpel crafted still lives made out of paper in her studio, recreating photographic cliché’s like sunset, cloudy skies and seascapes. Showing how easy they can be imitated. The publication is a collection of five books in a box, each showing one photographic subject. The book is self-published and very beautifully made and crafted. It’s wise to catch some sunlight from this publication before it’s gone.


illustrated people
Illustrated People – Thomas Mailaender

(RVB books – AMC books)

The latest publication of the French artist Thomas Mailaender is done in collaboration with the Archive of Modern Conflict in London. Mailaender went as a researcher through the archive hunting for material that interested him. A part of the publication carries images in colour of body parts with sunburns on them. Looking closer we see images appearing in the burned skin. Mailaender took negatives from the archive, applied them with Vaseline on the skin of different models and sun burned parts of their body. The images often work together with the parts of the body their on. The back of a fat guy has many images spread all over and an arm with a fist has a vertical image of a soldier on it.

The book’s rhythm is made by black and wide archival image that are added to the book. Here a fantastic selection and edit is made. It’s a book the leaves you truly disturbed and puzzled, which is my criteria for a very good photo book. It burned my desire.


black is a matter of taste

Black is a matter of taste – Theo van Dusseldorp


The latest publication of the Dutch independent publishing collective Salvo is dedicated to the work of Theo van Dusseldorp. Van Dusseldorp was for a long time a studio photographer, making all kinds of product shots for various clients. His work is beautifully re-appropriated in this publication. His photographs of shower curtains, floor panels and cookies are brought together in a way that makes his work up to date and modern again. Theo used to donate many of his 25.000 Polaroid’s to elementary schools for children to play with; the last remains of his work can be admired in this publication.



lessons in posing subjects

Lessons in posing subjects – Robert Heinecken

(Triangle books – WIELS)

This work was created by Robert Heinecken in 1981 and 1982 and is brought together for the first time in this publication, Co-published by Triangle Books and WIELS. It shows a stunning study of Polaroid’s taken from brochures containing female models showing fashion outfits. Heinecken collected all the different poses he could find in these very mundane photographs. The book is beautifully produced and only made in an edition of a thousand copies for the occasion of several exhibitions he has with this project in Europe recently.



a drop in the ocean
A drop in the ocean – Sergio Romagnoli

(Éditions du LIC)

An example of how a book can become a masterpiece not only by the photographs, but especially because of the edit. Alessandro Calabrese and Milo Montelli did a very good job with the photographs of the Italian naturalist Sergio Romagnoli. Romagnoli took thousands of images in his brief lifetime, which are put together by the editors as a story for the viewers to complete. The photographs change from personal, amateur to the photographer’s fascination for nature in all its beauty. The books shows how a story can be told in a touching way through the passion and dedication of these editors.


SPBH book club vol VII

SPBH book club volume VII – Lucas Blalock


Probably the most unnecessary book in 2014, but therefore maybe a very exciting one. Lucas Blalock is for a while already a photographer that is trying to stretch the borders of photography. In this publication he investigates how many interesting images he was able to make with a bunch of hot dogs on a white background. And surprisingly enough he was able to make a whole book out of it without becoming boring. The study shows darkness, humour and irony in such a way that Andy Warhol would have been jealous about it.

Erik Kessels (1966) is a founding partner and Creative Director of KesselsKramer, an independent international communications agency located in Amsterdam, London and LA. Kessels works for national and international clients and has won numerous awards. He published several books of vernacular photography through KesselsKramer Publishing –including the in almost every picture series. Since 2000, he has been one of the editors of the alternative photography magazine Useful Photography.