DEEP SOUTH SALLY MANN It was with haunting, sometimes sexually charged shots of her children, maturing enigmatically in the Virginia hill country, that Mann first gained notice in the late 1980s. Some years later she moved into territory even more shadowy than the boundary between childhood and adulthood: the Southern landscape. Through darkroom accidents and her use of 19th century glass-plate developing techniques, these pictures come to us fogged, scratched and indistinct, like her portrait of a wounded tree, above. Her mesmerizing book is not so much a portrait of the South as it is a dream about it, with a residue of wonder and longing on every page.
SHADOW BOXERS JIM LOMMASSON Boxing gyms don't have the sheen of health clubs or the cachet of martial-arts dojos. They're sweatshops, where young men who don't usually have many prospects in the wider world struggle to make the most of whatever it is that boils in their blood. For 10 years, Lommasson, a photographer based in Portland, Ore., has traveled around the U.S. and Canada, poking his camera into the places, like the Fraser Arms in Vancouver, below, where young fighters train. He has plainly got to know them and their coaches well enough to understand the drama and lowdown splendor of their lives. Both up to the minute and timeless, his pictures are also affecting, intricate and sometimes just glorious.
ON THIS EARTH NICK BRANDT African wildlife has never looked so regal and mysterious as in Brandt's grave photographs. His elephants appear as weighty as the pyramids. His rhinos look more ancient than carbon. His apes know something we don't. Given the multitude of human disasters in africa, is it an indulgence to lose yourself in pictures that carry no hint of the wars and famines outside the frame? Not when the pictures are such powerful reminders that africa is also a magnificent--and endangered--treasure house of animal life
WOMAN IN THE MIRROR RICHARD AVEDON By the time of his death last year, it was the general view that Avedon was one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium. Sometimes the general view gets it exactly right. This endlessly fascinating collection, devoted to pictures of women, makes plain the phenomenal range of his imagination and his deep grasp of what can be said by the human form and face. His high-stepping fashion shots, his cheeky celebrity portraits, his images of grandes dames as they dwindle sublimely into old age--not one of them is less than riveting.
A PLACE IN THE SUN SLIM AARONS For decades Aarons was a society photographer for magazines like LIFE, Holiday and Town & Country. He made the jet set look fetching wherever it landed, from Palm Springs to Acapulco. (That's French soprano Lily Pons, above, at Cap Ferrat, France.) Aarons didn't mean to satirize those scrumptious creatures, their opulence or their strangely bewitching narcissism. All the same, it's hard to turn the pages of this book, brimming with rich folk in full regalia--with their silky red slip-ons, their bikinis and their short shorts--and not laugh out loud.