While the history of photography is a well-established canon, much less critical attention has been directed at the phenomenon of the photobook, which for many photographers is perhaps the most significant vehicle for the display of their work and the communication of their vision to a mass audience.
In the first of three volumes, co-edited by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, The Photobook provides a comprehensive overview of the development of the photobook: from its inception at the dawn of photography in the early nineteenth century through to the radical Japanese photobooks of the 1960s and 70s, by way of the Modernist and propaganda books of the 1930s and 40s.
The selection of photographers compiled by Badger and Parr challenges the popular canon, and their survey of the history of the photobook reveals a secret web of influence and inter-relationships between photographers and photographic movements around the world. The book is divided into a series of thematic and broadly chronological chapters; each features a general introductory text that offers background information and highlights the dominant political and artistic influences on the photobook in the relevant period, followed by more detailed discussion of the individual photobooks.
The chapter texts are followed by spreads and images from over 200 books, which provide the central means of telling the history of the photobook. Assimilated diligently by Parr and Badger, these illustrations show around 200 of the most artistically and culturally important photobooks featuring the cover or jacket and a selection of spreads.