Here is the next collection of 10 books from my bookshelf project that started last week. Each of these books are from my bookshelf in my office that I have found as an amazing source of inspiration support, or help over the years. While a lot of books I have purchased end up being one hit wonders, these books will be with me until the end as I learn more and more from them each time we sit down an share a cup of tea or coffee.
This massive retrospective of Lee Friedlander’s work is amazing. At 480 pages and over 750 photographs, Frielander is a companion to the show developed by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Lee’s ability to seemingly combine the random, disorganized and mundane into photographic stories that weave more complex tales than we initially experienced coming upon the scene. A great collection for anyone who is into street photography.
Andre Kertesz is one of the most amazing photographers I have seen. In this collection by Greenough, Gurbo and Kennel Andre Kertesz’s career is examined by looking at his simple, elegant and engrossing images of his early work in Europe and later after he moved to the US. His images are such a reflection of his experiences in life and so richly printed that it is easy to spend time looking at them again and again.
Ansel Adam’s Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs is a great way to experience the work of Ansel over the years. While this The Print, The Negative and The Camera help generations of photographers learn the technical side of photography, this book is a great balance between the art of Ansel and the technical aspects of his more iconic images. You can get more of a retrospective of his lifetime in his Ansel at 100 or other books, but hearing first hand about his experiences in shooting and creating the print make this book unique.
Birney Imes’ Juke Joint is just awesome. From his experiences growing up in the South, Birney photographs the juke joints and bars in the Mississippi delta and back country. Amazing color images of various bars, patrons and environments. Beautifully shot with a mastery of the light and color these images are some of the best color work I have seen in a long time. As an aside the cover for the album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams is from this book.
Nick Brandt’s On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa looks at the animals of Africa in ways that few have ever seen. Photographed and printed with such intention, love and respect, it is so easy to see why Nick has become on of the most collected and influential photographers in recent years. There is little doubt after looking at Nick’s work that these smart, amazing and compassionate animals are every bit our equals and more in many ways. The intimacy from these images are only compounded by the fact that Nick was so close to the animals when photographing them without the use of telephoto lenses.
Editor Kristen Lubben work on Magnum Contact Sheets must have been an amazing adventure. I got turned on to this book by David duChemin and fell in love with it. Taken from 70 magnum photographers and over 120 contact sheets, we are given a glimpse into the photographers eye and editorial process for some of the most iconic photography. Such a great learning tool on so many levels from learning how to work a scene to make a great photo to the editing and selection process. So much can be learned from this book. Be warned that it is like 10 pounds, so ground ship it if you order online. 🙂
David Bayles and Ted Orland lay it all out in Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. While not specifically about photography, it does talk a lot about the reasons why we don’t create art. There is lot of advice out there about just pick up a camera and shoot, but for most of us there are always blocks, holes in the road and stories we make up about why we can’t do our art. This book takes a look at those fears and what it take to overcome those demons so that us ordinary people can go about creating our art while leaving the hard stuff to Mozart and Bach.
John Szarkowski’s The Photographer’s Eye is a great introduction into the language of photography. Based in part on his work with the MOMA in the early 1960s, this book helps the audience and artist develop a consistent and accurate language about the nature of the imagery. Understanding that photographs are more than just the “thing” being photographed, he helps us better relate to the art of photography.
Stephen Shore’s’ The Nature of Photographs: A Primer sits on my shelf right next to The Photographer’s Eye. Stephen’s examination into the nature of photographs and what makes them work beyond the basic notions and rules that are taught in photography schools. Rather than focusing on the subject as the primary focus, this book looks as the elements that make up the frame surrounding the subject. Those elements in combination with the subject allow for a critical analysis of photographs thus allowing the photographer to better understand the decisions behind the camera and how they help in telling compelling visual stories.
I picked up the book This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement this year on a trip to Washington DC. The reason I included it here is that I have found myself looking at this book a lot. Unlike other photographs from the Civil Rights Movement that were mostly for press, these images were taken by people who lived the movement. Photographed more as a social justice documentary it looks at events that happened before I was born but continue to shape the world today. The power of the photography carries on today and reminds me that with all that is going on the world, you can make a difference with your camera if you are brave enough to pick it up and photograph what matters to you.