“Buying a complete set of Robert Frank’s prints from The Americans is today nearly impossible (even if you had the money),” says Gerhard Steidl, “but anyone can go out and buy the book, knowing that the photographer oversaw and approved it as a multiple of his work.” Steidl’s eponymous publishing house, founded in 1968, now has the largest list in the world for contemporary photography. Impeccable artistry, consistent input from the photographers he works with, and a belief in the democratic reach of this art form all go towards explaining Steidl’s 2020 award for the World Photography Organisation’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography—the first time the honor has been given to someone other than a photographer. A new exhibition highlighting Steidl’s bookmaking process is part of the larger Sony World Photography Awards 2020 exhibition. —J.V.
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