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VICE Weekends Presented by Weis

Our Favourite Australian Photo Books of 2016

It was a good year for printed matter.

by Ben Thomson
23 December 2016, 7:23pm

This article is part of our VICE Weekends summer series, presented by Weis

Even though it feels like it was about two weeks ago, apparently it's been a whole year since this article came out. Might be to do with the speed of light slowing down? How does science work? Some people were so productive in that slither of time that they managed to release an actual photo book, full of photos that were way too good to disappear into an endless stream of avocado on toast, memes and butt shots. Here's a shortlist of our favourites for 2016.

Night Works, Michael Thomas

Photos courtesy of Michael Thomas

The human eye is severely limited in low-light, falling back mostly to black and white rods, then relying on the brain to half-ass fill in some colour information. Which is why it's so visually unsettling to see this series of vivid night-shots from mundane Australia. This book was an accompaniment to Michael's show at Tinning Street, as part of Hillvale's 'We Saw it Before You' series.


there's a sparkle in your eyes that i've never caught in mine, Ariel Katz

Photos courtesy of Ben Thomson

Although she's currently in Los Angeles, Ariel qualifies as an Australian no matter where she lives. This zine is a series of carefully paired diptychs pulled straight from her life, that give it a truly personal quality, which is refreshing when most photo series often feel like you're being held at arm's length from the photographer, or that they're trying to blend in and pretend photography is some kind of objective, realistic medium.


Young Vol 2, Heather Lighton

Photos courtesy of Heather Lighton

Heather conveys young women in an unapologetically sensual manner, documenting her fascination with youth in the second edition of this series. What separates her work from other series of the same ilk that can feel exploitative, is her genuine interest in their experience. She explained it to i-D,"I think my involvement in the girls lives makes this project pretty different. It's not like a fashion shoot where a girl shows up, you shoot and she leaves. I get to spend a lot of time with each girl on different days and try and get to know them. I've always been inquisitive, and I have a genuine interest in what it's like growing up right now. It's not unusual for me and one of my subjects to end up being pretty good friends afterwards, which is really special."


Blue Sky Roam, Michael Danischewski

Photos courtesy of Michael Danischewski

Morocco might be the only country that has been photographed to death more than Cuba. Blue Sky Roam captures the country in a new light though, thanks to Michael's almost democratic eye. It's like looking at a place through the eyes of a very talented android that cares only for light, composition and colour. It's rare to see such a perfect blend of action and stillness as well.


Heavy II, The Heavy Collective

Photos courtesy of The Heavy Collective

The Heavy Collective is undoubtedly one of the most tightly curated online sources for photography in Australia, so it makes perfect sense for issue two of their printed matter to be equally impressive. This time round, they've focussed on the conversation between image and text by pairing each photographer with a writer and as they put it "pushes the dialogue further, putting photographer and writer face to face, landing firmly at the confluence of where images are made and how they are read."


The Anthropomorphism Of Objects Is A Form Of Play, Shannon May Powell

Photos courtesy of Shannon May Powell

Berlin-based but Australian-born Shannon May Powell spent June of 2016 doing a residency at Torna, a gallery and bookshop in Istanbul. As she mentioned to i-D earlier this year, she approaches photography in a very cerebral manner, so it makes sense that the culmination of her month spent in Turkey would be a three-part zine, with equal parts dedicated to photography, writing and research. It goes without saying that the first 2 parts are fantastic, but it's also great to peek behind the curtain and see what goes into an artist's process.

This article is presented by Weis