What's Photography

The daily eyecandy on instagram is making me tired, a whole week of screens with only text and no pics would be refreshing. What coffeetable book with pictures makes a great gift to an artsy person ? Do I understand photography or is my mind tricking me? Is there a book about that ? Preferably with no pics.


this would make a great gift, especially if the recipient likes NYC

This is quite beautiful. Bit indie heavy bit if you like Factory Records it’s pretty lush.

This is a great one for vinyl heads

Also the irony that my photos of these books are shit in a thread about photography is not lost on me…


In my 20 years of teaching photography this is the single most usual tool I have found for anyone with the slightest interest in learning about how to create better pictures. Not in a technical way but in how to choose what to photograph and why to do so. My whole curriculum has been designed around this with students’ projects developed from ideas in the book. There are no pictures in it!

1 Like

These too but they are quite wordy, also no pictures;

On Photography by Susan Sontag
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Photography by David Bate: This breaks down genres of photography into chapters and is a bit less heavy going.

The one below was a 6 part BBC TV series that is very entertaining and an excellent overview of contemporary photography. If you google it you should be able to find a download link, the book is also excellent too.

And this is probably my favourite photo book from one of my favourite photographers, William Eggleston.


Saul Leiter is greatness. West village represent represent.

Disclaimer- buy these from a local bookstore, just linking to Amazon for clicking purposes!

My personal greatest of all time-

Danny Lyon: The Destruction of Lower Manhattan https://www.amazon.com/dp/1597114944/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_1ECYFP0S4NJHB7PP79R3

Super underrated-

Staring Back (The MIT Press) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0262083655/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_NWQJTNJYKXANY37FG6E3

Better than Michael Jordan playing basketball-

Chris Stein / Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk https://www.amazon.com/dp/0847843637/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_938JS8D0E03838ZYC05J

A paean to dedication/madness:

The Jazz Loft Project: Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith from 821 Sixth Avenue, 1957-1965 (KNOPF) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0307267091/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_X9EWMWQBS48SNYG7QPRS

Never took a bad picture in his life-

TRANSPARENCIES STEPHEN SHORE https://www.amazon.com/dp/1912339706/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_YFEZY5YAFVVG9K48ZS05

Gateway drug-

The Americans https://www.amazon.com/dp/386521584X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_DCV1XBSJVPR7TJCKV3DT

Finally getting props long overdue-

Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge https://www.amazon.com/dp/0764349740/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_Y8TT4HW3PH1S0VAD86MC

1 Like

great replies, thank you

1 Like

Chris Marker is a genius!


Hell yes.

:heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart:

I love Susan Sontag.

Some favs


Always been a massive B&W fanboy, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Don McCullin, Ralph Gibson… something amazing about a big print. Like you I’m bored shitless of glasses of whiskey on a slate a la insta. The grit of a Dorothea portrait is intense, maybe not for the faint of heart tho…


The Gonz is poetry in motion. I once came out of Seward Park HS where I was having a very frustrating semester tutoring kids and him and some younger heads had ramps set up in the adjacent parking lot. I put my KCR tape on my headphones and just watched for hours as he defied gravity.


The world needs a Chi Modu book and needs to appreciate Ernie’s books more:

Hip Hop at the End of the World: The Photography of Brother Ernie (UNIVERSE) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0789334410/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_16MDPHYG37QXX7GY3TQR

A magical eye and strong sense of humor:

A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick https://www.amazon.com/dp/0991014111/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_8HN4A0Z511WMP7XN8WQQ

Mr. Parr is an acquired taste and photographic troll but I love it:

Up and Down Peachtree: Photos of Atlanta https://www.amazon.com/dp/8869653323/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_MSW5EMK84CMK3FADDBMQ

Dr. Alimantado really was the best dressed chicken in town:

Rockers: The Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film https://www.amazon.com/dp/3943330486/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_Y7NGE7KBXBMDGTQV34A0

Obvious I guess and definitely dormitory/urban outfitters fodder but that’s merely because dude’s images are so ubiquitous. Possibly the coolest human who ever lived-

Fuck You Heroes: Glen E. Friedman Photographs, 1976-1991 https://www.amazon.com/dp/0964191601/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_5ZF4MZQB636HD8X4DKP7


Lee Friedlander: Chain Link https://www.amazon.com/dp/3958292593/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_BMMJNDY9CNPXP09WSZKH?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

When astral traveling is the only kind you’ll be doing for the foreseeable future books like this achieve an even greater value than they already possessed:

Martin Chambi Photographs, 1920-1950 https://www.amazon.com/dp/1560982446/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_JTYN0Y8H5NNMMP00VRPC

Cavs’ willingness to share such an extraordinary archive of unseen treasures has been a huge inspiration:

From the Platform: Subway Graffiti, 1983-1989 https://www.amazon.com/dp/0764337238/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_FEF8DZVDW5F87NNGB8ZF



UKG by Ewen Spencer. A fantastic sold out book about the early days of uk garage, would love to buy, but a bit expensive second-hand.


A fantastic photobook i just bought, by Geoff Winningham. “The book is a study of the popular fiestas of Mexico, showing the inhabitants of several Mexican villages. The fiestas intertwine some of the great pagan festivals with Catholic ritual and tradition.”

1 Like

This book by Dave Swindells looks very interesting but I missed the boat, should be getting repressed this year.

This one by Gareth McConnell, which I do own and is brilliant, is also about Ibiza and rave culture in a very psychedelic experimental way. It also manages to fit in Osho and Castlemorton.

1 Like

Kelly Klein’s “Pools” is incredible. Obvs more about the subject than any particular photographer, but it’s a massive coffee table book and perfect for easy browsing–not too thick–and the images are wonderful. Out of print, but there are copies floating around for around the price of a LITA 2LP city pop reissue :rofl:


1 Like