Photobooks of 2018: Bryan Schutmaat

Photobooks of 2018: Bryan Schutmaat


It was another prolific year for photobooks, but relative to the vast quantity produced, I have to admit that I spent time with very few of them. Of the books I managed to see in 2018, below is a list of the ones I love, though these selections may come at little surprise.

American Winter by Gerry Johansson
I’m mystified that such a simple book can be so deeply moving and that the sad, frigid places Johansson depicts can be so oddly delightful – probably my favorite photobook of the year.

Halfstory Halflife by Raymond Meeks
Please see Gabriela Cendoya-Bergareche’s unique and heartfelt write-up of this mesmerizing book, which sums it up much better than I can.

Past K-Ville by Mark Steinmetz
Past K-Ville is Steinmetz just being Steinmetz, which is fine, because Steinmetz is brilliant – and his archive continues to be a seemingly bottomless treasure trove.

Margins of Excess by Max Pinckers
This book is a substantial thing and tons could be said about it, but in short, Max Pinckers takes on American subject matter with bold ambition – and knocks it out of the park.

Jasper by Matthew Genitempo
Matthew Genitempo is my kindred so I’m biased, but I believe this atmospheric and astonishingly beautiful debut is an achievement of style and lyricism that will not be forgotten.

Deana Lawson by Deana Lawson
Straightforward and minimal, this monograph reaffirms the fact that great photos make great photobooks, and Lawson’s photos are decidedly great.

The Moth by Jem Southam
The Moth is a beautiful, understated, and bemusing ballad, performed by a master — soulful poetry I’ll return over and over again.

American Interiors by M.L. Casteel
Casteel’s heart-rendering book of photos that show the inside of US war veterans’ cars is a profound protest statement that brought tears to my eyes.

One Wall a Web by Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa
One Wall a Web is a poignant book by a dedicated artist making inventive use of both photography and text, whose statements about America will be sorely needed as long as violence, exclusion, and injustice continue to afflict this country.

Real Life Dramas by Mary Frey
The follow up to Mary Frey’s excellent Reading Raymond Carver is another charming book in the same vein that’s full of vitality, humor, and peculiar beauty.

Other books I loved this year and that could have easily been on this list include Studio Volta Photo by Sory Sanlé, I Want Your Love by Richard Renaldi, High Fashion by Pawel Jaszczuk, Manifest by Kristine Potter, And Time Folds by Vanessa Winship, and I could go on…

Bryan Schutmaat is an American photographer based in Texas. Schutmaat’s books include Grays the Mountain Sends, which won the Aperture Foundation Portfolio Prize, and Good Goddamn.

Images: top – American Winter by Gerry Johansson, below – Margins of Excess by Max Pinckers, American Interiors by M.L. Casteel