Four new photo books, ranging in scope from the human toll of war to the physical impact of wind, explore the concept of vulnerability in fascinating visual ways. They look at beauty, pain, and places that need protecting. And they happen to make great gifts for anyone in your life who enjoys nice-looking things (which is everybody, no?).
‘The Grand Canyon: Between River and Rim’ by Pete McBride ($50, Rizzoli)
“More people have stood on the Moon than have thru-hiked the canyon,” McBride writes in his new book. “I wanted to take a visual inventory to see if we’re passing it forward unmarred.” Next year is Grand Canyon National Park’s 100th birthday. To celebrate that, and to document development pressure from tourism, mining, and air traffic, Outside contributors McBride and Kevin Fedarko hiked 750 miles through the canyon. They came out of it with an article, this book, a highly successful speaking tour, and an upcoming documentary with a planned release in February. It’s hard to photograph things like noise pollution or looming threats, so McBride focused on trying to capture stillness—and the lack thereof. A composite photo of Helicopter Alley is juxtaposed with empty caverns. “It’s not just a hole in the ground,” he says. “The whole project is a microcosm for us as Americans and for wilderness. If you can’t save the Grand Canyon, what the hell can you save?”
‘This is Nowhere’ by Jeremy Koreski ($49, Jeremy Koreski Gallery)
The west coast of Canada, and specifically Tofino, the small Vancouver Island surf town where Koreski is from, is hard to reach and low on people. So yes, it’s an amazing place: wolves and bears roam the beaches, dolphins swim up the rivers, the storm swell gets huge. Koreski put together a collection of his favorite photos from the last 15 years, including surf shots, swooping eagles making eye contact, and dense untouched forests. It’s a tribute to the landscape he loves the most, one of the least touched coastlines in North America. “I want to showcase my home and demonstrate the importance of preserving it for the future,” he says.
‘Mistral’ by Rachel Cobb ($50, Damiani)
“The mistral is a gremlin wreaking havoc on our lives. It is everywhere. It is nowhere to be seen,” writes Cobb, a New York-based photographer who has spent time over the past 40 years in Provence, France, where that wind whips through the region. The mistral famously drove Van Gogh crazy, and it’s shaped both the natural and human-made landscapes—houses in the area often don’t have windows on the windward northwest side. For the past 15 years, Cobb has been obsessed with trying to capture the wind and its wake in photographs. She even moved her family to southern France so she could be there any time the wind picked up. In her photos, which include windswept wedding ceremonies and scoured mountaintops, she shows how the mistral impacts everything from attitudes to agriculture.
‘Of Love and War’ by Lynsey Addario ($40, Penguin Press)
Addario, a photojournalist and author of the bestselling memoir It’s What I Do, has won a Pulitzer Prize for her work documenting refugees, and for the past two decades she’s been one of the only American women shooting photos in conflict zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan right after September 11. Her images capture the human side of war and how people live when their lives have been torn up or they’ve been displaced. Her new photo retrospective, Of Love and War, is broken up thematically into sections like Life Under the Taliban and Women’s Issues. It’s unblinkingly brutal and beautifully human.