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Frieze Art Fair 2009. Photo: Linda Nylind.
Frieze Art Fair 2009. Photo: Linda Nylind.

The Best Books For Photography Lovers

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 19 October 2017

No bookcase, shelf or coffee table is complete without the addition of a mighty photography tome. Whether you want a quick fix of looking at stunning pictures or to get to grips with an artist’s oeuvre, Culture Trip selects the best photography books for novices and aficionados alike.

William Eggletson Portraits, published by National Portrait Gallery Publications

Every wall deserves to have a William Eggleston photograph hanging on it. But if your bank account can’t stretch to the high price tag, then this book is the perfect substitute. Full of large-scale reproductions from Eggleston’s acclaimed Portraits exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery, the allure of the pioneering American photographer is undeniably captivating and will leave you pining for the America of yesteryear. 

Courtesy National Portrait Gallery

William Eggleston Portraits | Courtesy of National Portrait Gallery Publications

Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore, published by Phaidon

After meeting Warhol at a film co-op in New York, the budding 17-year old Shore started to visit The Factory nearly everyday, photographing the studio’s activities from 1967. ‘In choosing the pictures for this book, I asked myself: if you didn’t know who any of these people were, would that still be an interesting picture?’, said Shore of his selection process for this impressive compendiumFilled with captivating black-and-white photographs of Warhol at work, his muse Edie Sedgwick partying away and a plethora of musicians, actors, and artists including Nico, Lou Reed and Yoko Ono, who frequented the Manhattan studio, this glimpse of the inner circle of one of the 20th century’s most intriguing artists will make you wish you’d been invited to the party.

Stephen Shore: Andy Warhol silk-screening Flowers, 1965-7 (page 46). | © Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore: Andy Warhol silk-screening Flowers, 1965-7 (page 46). © Stephen Shore


Nobuyoshi Araki, Hi-Nikki (Non-Diary Diary) published by Thames and Hudson

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Foundation Cartier, in 2014 the Parisian arts venue asked Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki to take a photograph every day, to later be published on their website. But instead, Araki, known for his highly eroticised aesthetic, took 1,250 photographs between March to May. These have been compiled into a visual diary that meanders from Tokyo vistas and vibrant still-life compositions to restaurant interiors and seductive shots of young women. This is Araki at his best: vivacious, bold and extreme – just how we like our art.

Courtesy Thames and Hudson

Nobuyoshi Araki, Hi-Nikki (Non-Diary Diary) | © Courtesy of Thames and Hudson



Photos that Changed the World, published by Prestel

From the earliest photograph of Machu Picchu to a 2015 NASA space probe photo of Pluto, the most remote planet in the solar system, this book chronicles historical events through powerful, beautiful, awe-inspiring and sometimes shocking images. With an insightful opening essay by Peter Stepan, the book’s editor, this collection of nearly a hundred photographs, taken by photojournalists and iconic photographers including Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange, brilliantly illustrates our culturally diverse world.

Photos that Changed the World

Photos that Changed the World | Courtesy of Prestel


Polaroid, published by Frances Lincoln

The enchanting quality of the original instant photograph is explored and celebrated in Florian Kaps’ book. “This book aims to be different, not only entertaining and maybe educating you but also seducing you,” says Kaps. The co-founder of The Impossible Project, an initiative intended to maintain film production, charts Polaroid’s early days with Edwin Land’s invention of instant film in the 1940s all the way to the discontinuation of Polaroid and its subsequent renewed fame. Both nostalgic and revelatory, the book is ideal for fans of Instagram.

Polaroid: The Magical Material. Courtesy Frances Lincoln

Polaroid | Courtesy of Frances Lincoln


Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements, published by Thames & Hudson

Through the lens of Edward Burtynsky, our world becomes a beautifully abstract version of itself. Aerial shots of land masses take on painterly qualities, abandoned shipyards feel like film sets and architectural compositions become scientifically tantilizing. The former director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, William A. Ewing, curates and edits this survey publication of the Canadian photographer’s four-decade career that has questioned the impact of human activity upon the natural environment. Stunning yet disconcerting, Burtynsky’s photographs take you to places you never knew existed.

Courtesy Thames & Hudson

Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements | Courtesy of Thames & Hudson


Rescue Me, published by Aperture 

This collection of adorable rescue dog portraits is a heartfelt ode to the remarkable work of Manhattan’s animal shelter, the Humane Society of New York. Shot by fashion and portrait photographer Richard Phibbs, each moving image is accompanied by heartwarming stories with upsetting beginnings and ending with joyful new leases of life thanks to the HSNY. With all royalties going to the shelter, just by purchasing the book even the stoic non-dog lover can help rescue man’s best friend. See inside the book here.

Rescue Me publication by Richard Phibbs

Rescue Me | Courtesy of Aperture


People of London by Peter Zelewski, published by Hoxton Mini Press

This collection of street portraits by award-winning American-born photographer Peter Zelewski launched Hoxton Mini Press’ new Tales from the City series. From buskers and refuse collectors to tailors and lawyers, Zelewski – who first came to attention when he won third place in the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize – has collated 100 of his finest portraits to create a visual documentation of London’s diverse populace.

People of London by Peter Zelewski. Published by Hoxton Mini Press

People of London | Courtesy of Hoxton Mini Press


Total Excess by Michael Zagaris, published by Real Art Press

If there was one photographer who managed to capture the best of San Francisco’s rock music scene in the 1970s and 80s, it was Michael Zagaris. From The Clash and Sex Pistols to Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, Zagaris’ portraits emulate an era of rock history we all wish we could have been a part of. Having fallen into photography after becoming disillusioned with studying politics post Kennedy’s assassination, Zagaris happened to be in the right place at the right time, snapping music gigs for pleasure rather than money. As the majority of his archive has remained unseen, this complete anthology is a compelling ode to rock and a must for all die-hard music fans.

Courtesy Reel Art Press

Total Excess | Courtesy of Reel Art Press