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Recommended photobook

[SPECIAL]John Sypal Favorite Photobooks 2023

John Sypal

December is the time of photobooks of the year lists- 

In no particular order, here are a few of my favorites published in 2023.







Ed Templeton エド・テンプルトン

『Wires Crossed』

Publisher: aperture


Ed's sprawling epic collects his photographs of skateboard culture in the late 90's & 2010s in vibrant detail. A memoir and adventure, its pages contain a cast of individuals experiencing thrills of youth on-the-road, cross-country travels featuring plenty of guerilla athleticism & cheeky shenanigans. The book is punctuated by sweat and blood and bones and concrete, lots of flesh, fans and cops, cameras, and the inevitable cops. Even for a non-skater like me, Ed’s observations of this rowdy rawness make for a fascinating experience.  This book will no doubt be on a lot of best-of lists- I know it's already on a lot of shelves. 





私のようにスケーターでなくても、この生々しい騒乱に対するエドの観察眼は、魅力的な体験となることでしょう。 この本は間違いなく多くのベスト・オブ・リストに載ると思います。 日本語版があったらいいのに!!




Motohiko Hasui 蓮井元彦

『Viator / Swell』

Publisher: Libro Arte


This black and white softcover is part Atget, part diary. Viator, as I learned, means "visitor" or "wayfarer". Hasui's statement for these images ponders our place in time and understanding of / struggle with its brevity-- with his usual cool distance he focuses on a lightness of being- one made bearable through the camera's unique subversion of time, one picture after another.

(See my full review here:






Recommended photobook 26:




Uzu Kirisa 卯月梨沙

"Opaque Beast" 『不透明なけもの』

Self Published


Wow. This book came out of the blue, handed to me by the photographer herself in November. Opaque Beast is Uzu's visual exploration of a fellow artist- an unnamed thirty-year old woman who possesses an uncanny ability to shapeshift through time and reality. The recipe? To a simmering pot of primordial soup add a few dashes of dark magic- next sprinkle in some eros and let it simmer.  A dish created between photographer and subject- this dual self-portrait serves two. 

See my review of her 2023 exhibition here:








Exhibition Report Vol.27:




Tomona Hayashi 林朋奈

"Fragment Light" 『フラグメントライト』

Self Published 

This is Tomona Hayashi’s first photobook- I am hesitant to use the term “debut” since she’s been exhibiting her work several times a year over the past decade in Tokyo.  The book is a thoughtful, incredible collection of pictures of life and light. Kodak Ultramax never looked so good!  Apologies for quoting myself, but re-reading the review of her 2022 show of the same name, her book holds true:

…. as always, her photographs have a reverberation to them. Sure, this is due to the quality of light she’s interested in, but also because each image she makes isn’t the result of a planned idea but rather beautiful evidence of her reaction to a distinct, fleeting moment. Like the best photographers, Hayashi’s work is a response to what’s in front of her at a particular instance. I’ve seen her snap pictures- she does it with a pounce, a leap, a laugh. 

Highly recommended!









Yoshihiko Ueda 上田義彦

Always Dream 『いつでも夢を』

Publisher: Akaaka


This is a luxurious, thick photobook (almost 600 pages!) that calls back to the glory days of 1990’s publishing. Inside its satin cover are hundreds of beautiful photographs from twenty years’ of Oolong tea campaigns that Ueda was commissioned to make by the Japanese beverage company, Suntory. That these were commissioned for commercial needs is both beside the point and mostly imperceptible. On their own terms- and by nearly any standard- they are simply, exquisitely beautiful. I’ve also felt one interesting thing about this book is how it could, at the same time and for slightly different reasons, be appreciated by nearly everyone: lovers of photography, every subject in every picture, board members of an international brewing company, and the CCP. 

Full review here:






Recommended photobook 23:



Feng Li 『Tokyo』

Publisher: Place M


Feng Li in Wonderland- his Tokyo is seen through a looking-glass of vibrant color, and populated by colorful characters. (Is that Alice in a sailor suit?)  The flash-lit images blend reality with fiction, and it’s hard to tell who’s who, or even why they’re there, then. In the center of it all sits Daido Moriyama, cigarette in hand. 


不思議の国のFeng Li(フェン・リ)が写す東京は、鮮やかな色彩の覗き窓を通して見られた、カラフルなキャラクターが群がっています。ストロボで照らされた東京の街は、現実と虚構を混ぜ合わせ、誰が誰なのか、なぜそこにいるのかさえもわからなくなったかのようです。







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