“For me, the most beautiful photography book of the year was made by Awoiska van der Molen, whose Sequester (Fw Books €40) contains black and white images taken at night in the heart of the volcanic landscapes of the lesser-known Canary Islands – La Gomera, La Graciosa. Her landscapes are utterly silent and mysterious, while her use of long exposures makes everything – trees, mountains, leaves, sand – seem both alien and familiar. These are meticulously crafted and deftly sequenced images that possess an extraordinary atmosphere, summoning what James Joyce called the “whatness” of things.
The most haunting photobook of the year came from Paddy Summerfield, whose Mother and Father (Dewi Lewis Publishing £30) recorded the final years of his elderly parents’ lives in a series of observational images taken though the windows of their house looking out on to their garden. It’s an affecting meditation on age and mortality in sombre black and white.
The young British documentary photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews also excelled in the art of visual narrative with Shot at Dawn (Ivory Press £48.95), a series of empty, almost ordinary landscapes where terrible things happened. Every image was taken at sunrise across France and Belgium at the sites where soldiers were executed – by their fellow soldiers – for desertion or cowardice during the first world war. It is a reminder of another, often overlooked, aspect of the war that casts the longest shadow.”