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Mark W Russell 11:31am, 8 July 2012
I have just finished re-reading Susan Sontag's "On Photography". I first read it some thirty years ago when I was a sallow youth and I probably was over impressed by the intellectual vigor and arguments at the time. Reading it again I find some of it shallow and some points skipped across, where a whole thesis could be opened up.
I wondered what Sontag would think of the digital/democratization of photography.

This got me thinking about what books amongst my collection I go back and look at again, revisiting images and text.

The ones that seem best thumbed include:-

Saul Leiter: Early Color - Martin Harrison (Author)
Ernst Haas (Photofile) - Virginie Chardin (Author)
Robert Frank: The Americans

All of the above because they constantly inspire me.

Street Photography Now - Sophie Howarth (Author), Stephen McLaren (Author)

This book got me to take photographs again some three years ago after a long hiatus.

The Photographer's Eye - John Szarkowski (Author)

The catalogue of the show that covers most bases in modern day photography.

What books on photography or specific photographers do you go back to and look at again, and why?
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Julia M Cameron PRO 6 years ago
The Genius of Photography, Gerry Badger is the book that accompanied the TV series (also available on DVD). Looks at a range of genres and the development of photography.

Parisian photographers Doisneau, Atget and Cartier-Bresson I love, because of the majesty and beauty they capture in Paris (as well as some of the bawdy bits). Inspired me to go to Paris last year and try for myself.

Anything about Julia Margaret Cameron (no relation)

Haven't read Sontag...yet!
Emma Georgiou PRO 6 years ago
For me there are 2 books:

The first is Nick Waplington's - Living Room as that was the first collection of photographs that I thought WOW I really get these, I want to work like that.

The second is 'The Nature of Photographs' - Stephen Shore - All of what Mr Shore says makes sense, helped by the simple text and brilliant photographic examples. Its really helped me to think about my photography.
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Mark W Russell 6 years ago
Emma - Was Waplington's work "meaningful" because it was shot on the Broxtowe Estate?
Palofperu PRO 6 years ago
Haven't been immersed enough yet to have a favourite, still dipping toe in the water, maybe on second toe. However, I've been reading/referring to Ian Jeffrey's How to Read a Photograph since receiving it as a Christmas gift and a number of photographers' work has impressed this novice, Diane Arbus, Ben Shahn, Bill Brandt to name a few. I also love Jeffrey's description of Joseph Sudek who, he writes: ' was setting up shop in a wooden shack at the bottom of the hill, improvising an existance and a poetic universe with the bits and pieces which came his way.' That really resonates for me.
Emma Georgiou PRO 6 years ago
Hi Mark - the answer to that is no. What I liked about this body of work is the way he captured the essence of this family - busy, vibrant, warts and all - like all our families and something we can all relate to (some thought this wasn't the case because the family lived on a council estate but who hasn't had a baby throw up on them, who hasn't put their children in the bath and made their hair stick up with soapsuds etc, etc??
This book changed my whole way of thinking about photography and pointed me in a direction that I knew that I wanted to go.
bart1eby Posted 6 years ago. Edited by bart1eby (member) 6 years ago
Generally speaking my favourite photography book is whichever one has most recently found its way onto my bookshelf but there are a couple of classics I wouldn't be without -

In terms of books about photography I'd have to 2nd Emma's recommendation for Stephen Shore's 'The Nature of Photographs' as well as, just pipping it to the post, the book that inspired it 'The Photographer's Eye' by John Szarkowski as recommended by Mark. For my money there's no better writer about photography and photographers than Szarkowski and I've picked up more than one monograph by a photographer I didn't much like purely because he's written the introduction, by the end of which he's normally convinced me to change my opinion...

In terms of photobooks themselves I'd pick The Hungry Eye (Walker Evans) and Lives in Photography (Edward Steichen) as it sometimes feels that just about every subsequent and significant photographer can in some way be traced back to these two, as if - to paraphrase Alfred North Whitehead - all photography is a footnote to Steichen and Evans! Between them, with their two very different approaches, they seem to have determined the whole of modern photography and each book offers a splendid overview of their long, varied and endlessly inventive careers.
dacaccia 6 years ago
Oh, a broad field. ;)
There are many really great books. (Please excuse, titles in German ...)
Some of my favs:

HCB - "Der Klang der Seele" - Portraits
HCB - "Sein 20. Jahrhundert"
Inge Morath: "Grenz.Raeume" (= her last photo tour!)
Franz Hubmann: "Cafe Hawelka" (= a great study of Austrian artists)
Thomas Hoepker: DDR-Ansichten (= a really great portrait of an ancient regime)
MAGNUM stories ...
Innis McAllister PRO 6 years ago
'Looking At Photographs' by Szarkowski (again) - just brilliant.
Also love 'Darkroom' - Lustrum Press - for anyone who has ever set foot in one, read this - insights from W.Eugene Smith, Larry Clark, Duane Michals, Ralph Gibson etc
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