Hohoho, Merry (upcoming) holidays streettogs. If you weren’t sure what to ask for the holidays this year, I have compiled this list of street photography books to ask Santa (or your friends, family, significant other) for. Read more to see my full list of recommended books below!
1. “Exiles” by Josef Koudelka
About Exiles, Cornell Capa once wrote, “Koudelka’s unsentimental, stark, brooding, intensely human imagery reflects his own spirit, the very essence of an exile who is at home wherever his wandering body finds haven in the night. ” In this newly revised and expanded edition of the 1988 classic, which includes ten new images and a new commentary with Robert Delpire, Koudelka’s work once more forms a powerful document of the spiritual and physical state of exile. The sense of private mystery that fills these photographs–mostly taken during Koudelka’s many years of wandering through Europe and Great Britain since leaving his native Czechoslovakia in 1968–speaks of passion and reserve, of his rage to see. Solitary, moving, deeply felt and strangely disturbing, the images in Exiles suggest alienation, disconnection and love. Exiles evokes some of the most compelling and troubling themes of the twentieth century, while resonating with equal force in this current moment of profound migrations and transience.
Exiles is definitely one of my favorite street photography books of 2014. Before it was re-published by Aperture this year, it cost $300+ in the secondhand market. Don’t miss out and pick up a copy.
2. “The Decisive Moment” by Henri Cartier-Bresson
The Decisive Moment originally titled Images à la Sauvette-is one of the most famous books in the history of photography, assembling Cartier-Bresson’s best work from his early years. Published in 1952 by Simon and Schuster, New York, in collaboration with Editions Verve, Paris, it was lavishly embellished with a collage cover by Henri Matisse. The book and its images have since influenced generations of photographers. Its English title has defined the notion of the famous formal peak in which all elements in the photographic frame accumulate to form the perfect image. Paired with the artist’s humanist viewpoint, Cartier-Bresson’s photography has become part of the world’s collective memory. This new publication is a meticulous facsimile of the original book. It comes with an additional booklet containing an essay on the history of The Decisive Moment by Centre Pompidou curator Clément Chéroux.
You also won’t want to miss out this great reprint of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s groundbreaking book. It is a photography book that has inspired thousands of great photographers over the years– and I’m sure you will find great inspiration in it too.
You can pre-order a copy of “The Decisive Moment” on Amazon for $79 here.
3. “In America” by Robert Frank
Its careful sequence of 131 plates integrates 22 photographs from The Americans with more than 100 unknown or unfamiliar images to chart the major themes and pictorial strategies of Frank’s work in the United States in the 1950s. Peter Galassi’s text presents a thorough reconsideration of Frank’s first photographic career and examines in detail how he used the full range of photography’s vital 35mm vocabulary to reclaim the medium’s artistic tradition from the hegemony of the magazines.
My friend Vedran in London told me about this new book by Robert Frank, which is essentially a larger edit of his original ground-breaking book, “The Americans” (you can read my review here). In this new book, you can see tons of “new” (unseen) images that Frank shot during his roadtrip through America. A great complement to “The Americans” — and highly recommended (especially for the introductory essay by Peter Galassi on the role that shooting 35mm helped him create this body of work).
You can pick up “In America” on Amazon for $38 here.
After World War II, the American road trip began appearing prominently in literature, music, movies and photography. As Stephen Shore has written, “Our country is made for long trips. Since the 1940s, the dream of the road trip, and the sense of possibility and freedom that it represents, has taken its own important place within our culture.” Many photographers purposefully embarked on journeys across the U.S. in order to create work, including Robert Frank, whose seminal road trip resulted in The Americans. However, he was preceded by Edward Weston, who traveled across the country taking pictures to illustrate Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Henri Cartier-Bresson, whose 1947 trip through the American South and into the West was published in the early 1950s in Harper’s Bazaar; and Ed Ruscha, whose road trips between Los Angeles and Oklahoma formed the basis of Twentysix Gasoline Stations. Hundreds of photographers have continued the tradition of the photographic road trip on down to the present, from Stephen Shore to Taiyo Onorato, Nico Krebs, Alec Soth and Ryan McGinley. The Open Road considers the photographic road trip as a genre in and of itself, and presents the story of photographers for whom the American road is muse. The book features David Campany’s introduction to the genre and 18 chapters presented chronologically, each exploring one American road trip in depth through a portfolio of images and informative texts. This volume highlights some of the most important bodies of work made on the road, from The Americans to the present day.
I stumbled upon this book in the Photographer’s Gallery in London– and was blown away by the print quality, the breadth of images, and the inspiration that I got from all these photographers who have done the epic “American road trip.” If you ever wanted to jump in a car, hit the road, and make some photos– this is great inspiration for you.
You can pick up a copy of “The Open Road” on Amazon for $43 here.
From blogs to Instagram and photo-zines to contact sheets: how 43 photographers approach their work
Find out how Alec Soth constructs his projects, why Trent Parke relies on old-fashioned Polaroids and hand-made books, and how forty-one other photographers experiment with new and old technologies, turn their photo-diaries into exhibitions, and attract audiences of millions via online platforms.
This book celebrates the creative processes of the modern photographic era, in which blogs and Instagram streams function alongside analog albums and contact sheets, and the traditional notebook takes the form of Polaroid studies, smartphone pictures, found photography, experimental image-making, and self-published photo-zines. Each photographer presents his or her sketchbook: several pages of images that convey his or her working methods and thought processes. These intimate, oneoff presentations are accompanied by engaging interviews that reveal how the simple act of pressing a shutter can capture and express a fully realized personal vision.
Three essays by the authors explore subjects at the cutting edge of contemporary practice. Designed to satisfy the most demanding of image junkies, this is an indispensable resource for anyone with an interest in photography or the creative process.
If you are interested in putting together a photography book, project, or series– “Photographers’ Sketchbooks” is a must-buy. You get a unique “behind-the-scenes” look in a lot of working processes that some of the greatest photographers have out there– an access to their ideas, contact sheets, and book dummies (maquettes).
6. “Minutes to Midnight” by Trent Parke
In 2003, Trent Parke began a road trip around his native Australia, a monumental journey that was to last two years and cover a distance of over 90.000 km. Minutes to Midnight is the ambitious photographic record of that adventure, in which Parke presents a proud but uneasy nation struggling to craft its identity from different cultures and traditions. Minutes to Midnight merges traditional documentary techniques and imagination to create a dark visual narrative portraying Australia with a mix of nostalgia, romanticism and brooding realism. This is not a record of the physical landscape but of an emotional one. It is a story of human anxiety and intensity which, although told from Australia, represents a universal human condition in the world today.
“Minutes to Midnight” by Trent Parke is one of the most beautifully printed, sequenced, and produced black and white photography book out there. It is not just a book– but a journey that Trent Parke takes you on through the outbacks of Australia, in his classic post-apocolyptic black and white vision. Definitely one of my top-5 favorite black and white photography books of all time.
The best way to learn is by doing. The Photographer’s Playbook features photography assignments, as well as ideas, stories and anecdotes from many of the world’s most talented photographers and photography professionals. Whether you’re looking for exercises to improve your craft–alone or in a group–or you’re interested in learning more about the medium, this playful collection will inspire fresh ways of engaging with photographic process. Inside you will find advice for better shooting and editing, creative ways to start new projects, games and activities and insight into the practices of those responsible for our most iconic photographs–John Baldessari, Tina Barney, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jim Goldberg, Miranda July, Susan Meiselas, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, Tim Walker and many more. The book also features a Polaroid alphabet by Mike Slack, which divides each chapter, and a handy subject guide. Edited by acclaimed photographers Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern, the assignments and project ideas in this book are indispensable for teachers and students, and great fun for everyone fascinated by taking pictures.
My friend Mo in Dubai recently recommended me a copy of “The Photographer’s Playbook“– and it inspired me with all of the diverse photographic assignments in the book. While all of the assignments weren’t “street-photography specific”, it is full of inspiration and ideas to push you outside of the box. I think the best way to treat the book is to keep it by your desk or bedside, and randomly flip through it to find assignments that might inspire you creatively.
You can pick up a copy of the book on Amazon for $19 here.
9. Magnum Contact Sheets (compact edition)
Available for the first time in a compact edition, this groundbreaking book presents a remarkable selection of contact sheets and ancillary material, revealing for the first time how the most celebrated Magnum photographers capture and edit the very best shots. Addressing key questions of photographic practice, the book illuminates the creative methods, strategies, and editing processes behind some of the world’s most iconic images.
Featured are 139 contact sheets from sixty-nine photographers, as well as zoom-in details, selected photographs, press cards, notebooks, and spreads from contemporary publications including Lifemagazine and Picture Post. Further insight into each contact sheet is provided by texts written by the photographers themselves or by experts chosen by the members’ estates. Many of the acknowledged greats of photography are featured, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, and Inge Morath, as well as such members of Magnum’s latest generation as Jonas Bendiksen, Alessandra Sanguinetti, and Alec Soth. The contact sheets cover over seventy years of history, from Robert Capa’s Normandy landings and the Paris riots of 1968 via Bruno Barbey, to images of Che Geuvara by René Burri, Malcolm X by Eve Arnold, and portraits of classic New Yorkers by Bruce Gilden. 446 illustrations, 240 in color
I have promoted “Magnum contact sheets” as probably my #1 favorite educational book– as it gives you a unique behind-the-scenes look behind the contact sheets of the master photographers. You can see how they “worked a scene”– and how much hard work (and sometimes luck) goes into making a great image. This new compact edition is a lot more affordable and easier to carry around– don’t miss out on this book!
10. “The Street Photographer’s Manual” by David Gibson
Street photography has been around since the very first cameras were invented, producing some of the most poignant images of our time. Today, a wave of new technology has given this photographic genre a new lease of life, from phone cameras to specialist lenses to digital zooms. The Street Photography Manual leads the reader through a series of fully illustrated tutorials, including how to shoot a face in a crowd and how to train your eye to observe and capture the unexpected. Readers will be inspired by some of the best street photographers in the world, and then go forth and create their own memorable images. 250+ illustrations
If you are a beginner to street photography, “The Street Photographer’s Manual” is a superb introduction to get you started to pound the pavement. David Gibson has been shooting street photography for many decades, and this book is a great diverse resource of different approaches and styles to street photography.
You can pick up a copy of “The Street Photographer’s Manual” on Amazon for $14 here.
Articles on photography books
If you are passionate about photography books, I recommend reading my following articles:
- “100+ Inspirational Street Photography Books You Gotta Own“
- “Buy Books, Not Gear“
- “11 Tips on Making a Photography Book with Bruno Ceschel“
What other photography books do you have in your wishlist for this year? Share your recommendations in the comments below!