Photobooks of 2019: Raymond Meeks

Gregory Halpern

Photobooks of 2019: Raymond Meeks

Christmas Day, Bucks Pond Road by Tim Carpenter
As a fellow midwesterner, I’m familiar with a sensibility in Tim Carpenter’s pictures born of humility and a near reliance on grace to shed light on the marvels of this world, no matter how prosaic they may appear on a cold, gray winter morning in Illinois. A pervasive sense of anticipation and wonder builds as we follow in the steps of our guide, in utter disbelief that a morning could offer up such revelations. Another gorgeous collaboration with Mike Slack and Tricia Gabriel at The Ice Plant.

Should Nature Change by John Gossage
No other photographer makes pictures that affirm and inspire in me the need to make pictures. This book reasserts what I have always reaped by way of numerous volumes of Gossage pictures—- a deep-seated joy for composition and spatial relationships that celebrate the gift of sight.

Entrance to Our Valley by Jenia Fridlyand
The highly anticipated trade edition of the artist book which was shortlisted for Paris Photo-Aperture First Photobook Prize. (Both books are now out-of-print, though rumors have it that a second edition is under consideration). Jenia Fridlyand partnered here with TIS books to produce an elegant book that embodies many of the graceful qualities of the original, where pictures of domestic activities combine and form an elegy of housekeeping, at times chaotic and serene. For me, one of Jenia Fridlyands greatest gifts resides in her ability to compose with such keen awareness and focused attention with 4×5 camera and tripod, while imbuing her pictures with a freedom and spontaneity usually reserved for point-and-shoot.

Omaha Sketchbook by Gregory Halpern
Omaha Sketchbook opens with faded hues of pink and yellow paper, as if set from a Nebraska sunrise. Small color contact prints are placed in seemingly random pairings forming a playful resonance and, at times, discordant relationships between the colored paper and small contact prints. These unforced gestures, for me, reinforce improvisation and play as the most generative and enduring modes of creativity. Greg Halpern’s pictures remind me, with wondrous, sobering clarity that the things of this world are true.

I Walk Toward the Sun Which is Always Going Down by Alan Huck
A reminder amongst the daily stream of distractions to slow down, give full attention to our daily endeavors and according to Annie Dillard, “to discover, at least, where it is that we’ve been so startlingly set down, if we can’t learn why”. Each wandering sojourn through “I walk toward the sun…” provides new revelations and discoveries.

The following books are those I’d like to mention as they’ve excited and moved me deeply enough to acquire, but with which I’ve not spent sufficient time to glean their formal qualities and write a review:

Were it not for by Michael Ashkin
Hereafter by Federico Clavarino
Slant by Aaron Schuman
Paul’s Book by Collier Schorr
Geomancy by Michael Lundgren

Raymond Meeks lives and works in New York’s Hudson Valley. His recent books include Halfstory Halflife (Chose Commune, 2018) and Seven Kinds of Loneliness, a collaboration with publisher Stanley Barker.

Images: top – Omaha Sketchbook by Gregory Halpern, below – Geomancy by Michael Lundgren