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Inside the PhotoBook Award Entries

By Freddy Martinez

Photobooks from around the world—from Tokyo to Paris to Los Angeles—are currently arriving at Aperture’s Chelsea office as entries to this year’s Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, an annual celebration of the photobook’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. Since 2012, the PhotoBook Awards have granted prizes in the categories of PhotoBook of the Year, First PhotoBook, and starting last year, Photography Catalogue of the Year. The call for entries began May 4 and ends September 11. On September 18, thirty-five short-listed photobooks, chosen by representatives of both Paris Photo and Aperture Foundation, will be announced at the NY Art Book Fair.

On July 30, Aperture’s creative director Lesley A. Martin, photographer Penelope Umbrico, and digital media assistant Max Mikulecky, unboxed twenty entries at the Aperture offices, in part to record the details of the arrivals but mainly to preview the photobooks inside. The various packages tell a story of their own. They arrive with handwritten addresses, from meticulous uppercase to functional cursive, bearing a notable array of stamps from a Polish astrological-themed scene of a Capricorn goat sitting at a desk, to a sampler of stamps from Brazil that honors six species of stingless bees.

“The first thing I do is flip through,” Martin said after unboxing the first package. “I want to see the overall universe of it. And then I go back and look more carefully at all its individual components. I try to figure it out.” The above slideshow offers a look at the first few entries.

Click here to find out more about how to submit to the PhotoBook Awards.

Freddy Martinez is the Digital Media Work Scholar at Aperture Foundation. 

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