Top 5 Street and Documentary Photography Books (on my shelf)

And it is most important to stress that my bookshelf is not very big, and I have a list of books to add that is way bigger than my wallet! Also while not all the books are about street photography, they are most inspirational for street photographers.


Each of these five books have made me drool a bit! I believe it's so important to study the work of photographers who have been printed in books than be solely inspired by what's most popular on Instagram. Of course it's never simply one or the other - there is always a cross-over, and Instagram has a lot of inspiration for sure.


The beauty of a book, however, is that you will find you will spend more time viewing an image. We consume Instagram so quickly - an image is evaluated in a split second, liked, or not liked and then a scroll brings us to the next one, and we repeat the process, maybe occasionally stopping and zooming in! You really cannot beat the printed image. And you should print your own work too, as well as buy a handful of books...


So here are five books from my bookshelf, in no particular order:

(I have attempted to represent their size relative to one another!)



The Suffering of Light

- Alex Webb

“I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner.” - Alex Webb

This book is magnificent! Both in stature (it's a huge book) and in content. It is a must for any Alex Webb fan, and if you're not already a fan you really should be. Maybe complex colour compositions aren't your preference, but studying Webb's work will teach you so much once you start figuring out the way he constructs his images. When he talks about his work it is never intellectualised though, he's speaks of being drawn intuitively to the scenes he photographs, but that doesn't mean there are aren't themes and ideas that run through it!


Each image is 12" x 8" so basically you have a whole book of Alex Webb prints! Most are facing a blank page, but a few have a partner on a double page spread. Normally I don't like too many blank pages, but when the photographs are as visually rich as Webb's it helps to view them individually. I highly recommend you feast your eyeballs on this book, drink in the gorgeous layered images, and soak up the colour, rhythm, shadows, silhouettes and reflections.


The Suffering of Light

- Alex Webb


BUY IT HERE

















Discover more about Alex Webb on the website he shares with his equally talented wife, Rebecca Norris Webb: https://www.webbnorriswebb.co



The Palaces of Memory

- Stuart Freedman

"The world is a beautiful place and full of interesting and engaging stories waiting to be told." - Stuart Freedman

I adore this book! It is a visual love letter to the coffee houses of India - a country very dear to Stuart Freedman's heart, and you can tell. This book is a masterclass in reportage photography. It takes you on a stunning visual journey. The colour palettes and tones running through the images are gorgeous, the compositions are sublime, and the insight you get to the subject matter is wonderful. It's a dream to look through.


I would describe is as a quiet book, and if you've been to India you will know that's not really a word you'd use to describe life there! But these cafes are an oasis amidst all the noise, and that's what has really been captured within these pages. And what I really love is how respectful the photography is, you can tell that Freedman is welcome, and that he never imposes himself on his subjects. So grab a cup of coffee, so you can have a really immersive experience, and get hold of this gem of a book.


The Palaces of Memory

- Stuart Freedman


BUY IT HERE












Discover more about about Stuart Freedman: https://www.stuartfreedman.com



Modern Color

- Fred Herzog

“Timing in photography is almost everything. You have to pay attention to where the light comes from, you have to pay attention to your background.” - Fred Herzog

This book is a classic. It's gloriously nostalgic, and a real study of colour, at a time when colour was seen as vulgar, belonging to advertising and not to art. I always say that my own work is as much "about" colour as it is "in" colour, and I think that's what a lot of Fred Herzog's work is. Spoiler alert: there are some black and white images in it too, that's how modern the colour is!


Many of the photos were made in Vancouver, Herzog's adopted home, over half a century. He is proving you don't have to leave your hometown to create an in-depth photo essay (although obviously leaving your hometown to discover a new city is awesome!). It's big book and full to the brim of observations and every day moments, almost as though he photographed everything he found interesting, or visually pleasing, however mundane.


Modern Color

- Fred Herzog


BUY IT HERE
















Discover more about Fred Herzog: https://www.equinoxgallery.com/our-artists/fred-herzog/



Glasgow

- Raymond Depardon

"I think photography was inside me. Once I found it, it became stronger than me and I took refuge in it." - Raymond Depardon

This book was never going to be a brochure for the Glasgow tourist board! It's a dark, desolate and gritty picture of the city during the 80s. Even the publication (The Sunday Times Magazine) that commissioned the work didn't want to print it! In fact it didn't see the light of day for three decades... Insane right! Now it's seen as a "unique and outstanding photographic record of a Glasgow that has largely disappeared". To Depardon Glasgow back then was "exotic".


I think it's marvellous in it's bleakness! Another photographer (including me) would have been tempted to shoot in black and white, because that's how we are conditioned to think of gritty working class areas of cities, but not Depardon. I just love how he found notes of colour within the grey monotones of the cityscapes - little pockets of primaries or pastels. And that's why, in my opinion, this work is so great as it hasn't surrendered to the grit - because that colour, even in tiny amounts, somehow depicts hope...


Glasgow

- Raymond Depardon


BUT IT HERE


The intro is in both French and English (even though the book is the "French version")








Discover more about Raymond Depardon: https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/raymond-depardon/



Women Street Photographers

edited by Gulnara Samoilova

"This book is ... a celebratory roar for those individuals who have a subversive spin to the historically male figure of the flâneur." - Melissa Breyer (author of the intro essay to the book)

Well, of course I HAVE to include this book, because I have a photograph in it!!! It was of course an honour to be invited for inclusion and I love my pages (24-25) and how the picture looks. The whole book is a joy, not only because it's a wonderful celebration of contemporary women street photographers, but because it's full of beautiful images, great quality print and finish. I'm incredibly proud to be in it. (No apologies for shameless horn tooting!)


There's an intro and an essay to take you in. And each of the 100 women who have work included have written a few words about their photograph, so this book is more than a series of pictures - it's an insight into the women themselves and I guess you can look at it as a directory for street photographers who are women. This has to be book #1 because, for me, there are a number of notable women missing from