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What’s your favourite photography book? Which photography books have inspired you? To improve as a photographer, all of our masters say how important it is to study the work of other great master photographers. Looking at photography books will often provide valuable insight into the author’s ideas, process and techniques, allowing you to build a library of concepts, compositions and styles to inform your own work.
 

“It’s important to have books around, to have the literature of photography available to you. Not so much that you could copy or steal from these artists, but that you could find in their work the same impulses that you have.” – Joel Meyerowitz

 

Hence we have compiled a list of 20 photography books that we think you might find interesting, some of which are recommended by our very own masters. But which books would you choose and why? Check out our list below and join in the conversation about books that inspire us all. Use the comment box below this post to share your thoughts and suggestions.

 

“What you’re really looking for, from books, is inspiration and inspiration can be a really major driving force.” – Albert Watson

 

Our list is in no particular order and we have provided links to Amazon or their publisher’s website if you want to buy any online. (Note: we do not receive any financial incentives from these book recommendations.)

 

THE LIST

 

THE DECISIVE MOMENT – HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON

The book was originally called “Images à la Sauvette” and is one of the most famous books in the history of photography. It is a collection of Henri’s best work from his early years. You can watch a short documentary about it in our Free Content section here. 

Get the book here.

 

WORKERS – SEBASTIAO SALGADO

This book, through it’s truly extraordinary imagery, is an exploration of the labours of the world’s poor, a tribute to their enduring spirit and dignity.

“This book is the photography of humanity.” – Gabriel García Márquez

Watch this photography legend talk about his work here.

Get the book here.

 

THE AMERICANS – ROBERT FRANK

Published in 1958 in France and again in 1959 in the US, this masterpiece redefined what a photography book should be. It contains 83 black and white images from Frank’s journey across the United States and is a true classic.

Get the book here.

 

AN APERTURE MONOGRAPH – DIANE ARBUS

Diane Arbus through her powerful portraits of people in the margins of society provoked controversy and transformed the aims of photography at the time. “Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child,” Norman Mailer. She died in 1971 at the age of 48, by then she had already become a photography legend. For more information about Diane watch this documentary in our Free Content section.

Get the book here.

 

AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHS – WALKER EVANS

Another classic that captured the US society and it’s artefacts. This book was published by The Museum of Modern Art in 1938.

Get the book here.

 

ON PHOTOGRAPHY – SUSAN SONTAG

This is not a book of photographs but a collection of essays about the moral and aesthetic issues surrounding photography. It brilliantly analyses and discusses the effects of photography on society.

Get the book here.

 

YOSEMITE – ANSEL ADAMS

Ansel Adams is the father of landscape photography and his technical mastery is peerless. This book collects his finest images of the park that he loved. A must if you love landscape photography.

Get the book here.

 

CAPE LIGHT – JOEL MEYEROWITZ

It is considered one of the most influential and popular photography books in the latter part of the twentieth century. The book is a collection of photographs taken in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Watch Joel talk about how the book changed his life in his masterclass here.

Get the book here.

SEEING THINGS: A KID’S GUIDE TO LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS – JOEL MEYEROWITZ

Another book by Joel, but this time aimed at children between the ages of 9 and 12 and a wonderful introduction to photography.

Get the book here.

 

UNCOMMON PLACES – STEPHEN SHORE

Published in 1982, Stephen Shore was one of the first artists to take colour beyond the domain of advertising and fashion photography.

Get the book here.

 

A LIFE IN PICTURES –  STEVE MCCURRY

The most comprehensive volume on the iconic Steve McCurry, the man behind the famous “Afghan girl” and one of the most popular photographers of the twentieth century. Compiled by his sister Bonnie, this biography covers his key adventures, travels and his iconic shots.

Get the book here.

 

HARRY GRUYAERT – BY FRANÇOIS HÉBEL AND RICHARD NONAS

This retrospective brings the best images of one of the first European photographers to explore colour and images as a way of perceiving the world emotionally as opposed to in narrative form.

For more, see the Masters of Photography founder Chris Ryan interview with Harry here.

Get the book here.

 

A THOUSAND CROSSINGS  – SALLY MANN 

This is an overview of a Sally Mann project reflecting her life in the American South and its complex cultural identity. Her photography is experimental, hauntingly beautiful and explores many themes of human existence. She was named “America’s Best Photographer” by Time magazine in 2001.

Get the book here.

 

CYCLOPS – ALBERT WATSON

The first book of Albert Watson is a collection of his most famous black & white portraits, fashion, still life, and landscape pictures that highlight his incredible creativity with a camera. Photo District News named him one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time.

Watch his online photography masterclass here.

Get the book here.

 

AMERICAN MONUMENT – LEE FRIEDLANDER

This is the landmark work of Friedlander. The first edition was one of the most sought-after photography books of the 20th Century. This is a collection of images of US monuments taken in a way that was considered radical in the 1960’s: casual, snapshot-like and with an apparently ordinary subject matter.

Get the book here.

 

THE LAST RESORT –   MARTIN PARR

This book depicts the “warts and all” life of a British seaside resort in the 1980’s in a period of economic deprivation. It is an indictment of Margaret Thatcher’s market-led economic policies.

It transformed documentary photography in Britain and established Parr’s reputation.

Get the book here.

 

MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT – MINOR WHITE

A very interesting biographical book about White that includes his personal journals. White is considered as one of the great photographers of the 20th century, although he is somewhat controversial and misunderstood. His photography is often metaphorical and symbolic reflecting his lifelong spiritual quest.

Get the book here.

 

IN THE AMERICAN WEST – RICHARD AVEDON

Considered a hallmark of portraiture photography, this is a collection that “monumentalise” ordinary people, drifters, miners, cowboys and others from the western US. The project was originally commissioned by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Avedon introduces the book with an interesting essay on his methods and portraiture photography.

Watch this video of Avedon to learn more.

Get the book here.

 

DAVID YARROW – DAVID YARROW

The book is a 368 page monograph which showcases David’s strongest fine-art images of wildlife and staged work. This special edition comes with a signed print, ‘The Clubhouse’, inside. Interestingly, David provides narratives documenting how he captures his images.

His online photography masterclass is available here.

Get the book here. Use the following code at checkout for a special £20 discount: MASTERSOFPHOTOGRAPHY20

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