Drum roll, please. The Photo Book of the Year for 2013 is Gordon Parks: Collected Works, published by Steidl. Originally scheduled to have been released in November, it looks as though it won't see the light of day until January. So, yes, 2013.
I'm being more than half serious. I can't imagine that a more important book of photography will be published next year, and it's equally impossible to imagine a photo book that I'll like more.
[Click on the image to see a larger version.]
I'm also being provocative, of course. Partly, I'm reacting to the fact that year-end best-of lists are being released earlier and earlier. Reuters, for instance, posted its superb "Best Photos of the Year 2012" at the end of November. (They're superb and are accompanied by fascinating comments from the photographers. You should have a look.)
More importantly, I'm responding to the insanity of a single person (or even group of people) deciding what the best in the world of anything is. The world is too big, and no one knows enough, reads enough, sees enough to be able to say more than "this is my favorite thing." So, I'm betting that next year Gordon Parks: Collected Works is going to be my favorite photo book.
Back to the serious point that I'm making...
Most of you already know that Parks was one of the most significant photographers of the twentieth century and that he's long overdue for a career retrospective such as this. The five volumes of Collected Works will examine his work as a documentary photographer, photojournalist, fashion photographer, celebrity photographer, and fine art photographer. Essays by major historians and curators, such as Deborah Willis and Maurice Berger, will accompany the photographs. Steidl, which always produces beautiful books with superb photo reproduction, is the publisher. What's not to like?
If I'm wrong, and Collected Works isn't the best my favorite photo book of 2013, stop by here this time next year, when I'll be announcing the best my favorite photo book of 2014.