The Ten Best Photography Books of 2022 | Arts & Culture – Smithsonian Magazine


This year’s list includes Bird Planet, Floridas, I Just Wanna Surf and more.
Illustration by Emily Lankiewicz

As photo editors at Smithsonian magazine, one thing we really love about photography is that through this medium, freely extended to us, is a most extraordinary invitation—a front-row seat into a world we never even knew existed, let alone a world we might be a part of. Photo books, in particular, give us this wonderful opportunity to access these faraway worlds and personal spaces on an intimate level. As we set out to select our top ten photo books of 2022, this theme of windows into other worlds came up again and again.

Take for example, Tierra del Sol, by Carlos Jaramillo, which is a vibrant look into charrería, Mexico’s national sport, or Daniel Jack Lyons’ Like a River, a work that explores transgender and queer communities in the depths of the Amazon. In As It Was Give(n) to Me, Stacy Kranitz actively breaks down the stereotypical treatment of life in Appalachia, showing there is much more to this region than we have been shown again and again.

In the end, what we see in each of this year’s selections is a glimpse into a world, a space, a place that might not be ours. And what a gift that is, because when we can truly see someone else, we can see ourselves that much better.

Like a River by Daniel Jack Lyons

What makes Daniel Jack Lyons’ debut monograph, Like a River, so exceptional is not only that he shows us the tender “coming-of-age impulses to express and affirm one’s individuality,” as the Guardian’s Mee-Lai Stone puts it, through his portraits and images, but that we are allowed to view the work through a prism deep into the Amazon rainforest. This is work that, as Lyons’ publisher puts it, “empowers the trans and queer communities of the region, exploring how deep Indigenous traditions and modern identity politics meet in a celebratory, safe space, deep in the lush canopies and vegetation of the rainforest.” And while the viewer gets a special glimpse of another world, there is something so fundamentally familiar about these images at the same time: those looks of defiance, vulnerability and wisdom that youth, the world over, have as they are coming out and being true to themselves. Lyons’ work is made even more poignant as it happens against another background that his subjects have to contend with—the toxic mix of environmental degradation, violence and discrimination. —Quentin Nardi

Theatrum Equorum by Andrea Modica

At first, I couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at as I paged through Philadelphia photographer Andrea Modica’s latest book, Theatrum Equorum. It was as if I stepped into some private world that was not meant for me. But I took in the platinum prints, and …….


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