Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Photobook Tourney

March Madness is upon us again, which means it's time for another photography tournament. This year's tourney will work along the same model as last year's, except that instead of street photographers the contest this time is between photography books.

I've chosen 64 books from Andrew Roth's Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century. Most but not all titles have been translated into English. Modeling after the NCAAs, I've seeded the photobooks into four regionals, New York, Europe, Middle America, and Misfits, the last one being a catch-all category for books that don't easily fit somewhere else.

Here's how the bracket looks:

Please take a minute to look at it. If you want to play along as we go, print it out, fill in your selections, pin it up next to your NCAA bracket, and see how many winners you've picked six weeks from now.

As a disclaimer I will say up front that the selection, seeding, and (sometimes fuzzy) regional bracketing is arbitrary. Everyone will have their own choices of seminal photobooks. These are my choices culled from Roth's choices. They run heavy on American and European titles, and they're all from a specific time period. Honestly a large chunk of these titles I haven't even seen in person. In those cases I went mostly on reputation and whatever I could dig up online. So be it.

Each week on Wednesday morning, I'll post pairings in the sidebar to the right. Readers will have one week to cast votes for the "best" book by clicking on the radio button near each selection. How to determine what makes one book better than another is up to you. Design, editing, historic influence, object as craft, and author's reputation are some things you might want to consider in addition to the photographs themselves, but there's no exact formula.

If you don't know a particular book don't get too hung up on it. For most of the books listed, you'll find plenty of online information to supplement whatever you already know. But feel free to vote for a book regardless of familiarity. As with any democratic process, this ain't science. Your gut counts too.

After you vote for each pairing the radio buttons will transition to a running vote tally so you can monitor which books are leading, and go back to change your vote if you want.

At the end of each week on Tuesday evening I'll tabulate results and post new pairings the next morning. The tournament should last 6 weeks, with the winner announced in late April.


keithmca said...

there's no way around this ending in eggleston vs frank

Todd Walker said...

@keithmca I'll agree (sadly) there's scant competition for Frank in the "Europe" and "Misfits" divisions, but Eggleston's got plenty on his side of the fence - Walker Evans, Nan Goldin, Ed Ruscha. It'll be fun times.

Blake Andrews said...

Interesting prediction. As with the basketball tourney, the only certainty is uncertainty. Upsets are guaranteed.

K. Praslowicz said...

I've painted my face with the team colors of East 100th St.

jon said...

Looks like fun. I couldn't find some of my faves but that's the way of these things ;-) Thanks for putting in the work.

Zisis Kardianos said...

There is no way Frank will not win at the end.
The lack of a strong Winogrand book is evident and well known.
Bresson's "decisive moment" is actually a "hits collection" and not a photobook per se.

Zisis Kardianos said...

....and Evans "American Photographs" is way overestimated.

Phill said...

Great tournament, looking forward to playing.

If Avedon's "In the American West" was there, I would have put my money on that. Without that I'm going with "The Americans"

J. Karanka said...

Somehow I don't see my favourites lasting long on this one :o) Anyway, it looks a lot more even than the photographer based competition.

BigBabyGenius said...

Middle America?

It should be 'The Rest of Us' know, like Festivus!