There are a wealth of photography books out there, but if you’re looking to induldge in photography theory, critical analysis and gain new fine art photography viewpoints, the following Top 10 Photography Books are highly reccommended:
1) Photography Theory, James Elkins
‘Photography Theory presents forty of the world’s most active art historians and theorists, including Victor Burgin, Joel Snyder, Rosalind Krauss, Alan Trachtenberg, Geoffrey Batchen, Carol Squiers, Margaret Iversen and Abigail Solomon-Godeau in animated debate on the nature of photography”
2) The Photograph as Contemporary Art, Charlotte Cotton
”A short illustrated survey of the use of photography in contemporary art since the mid-1980s. The work of approximately 150 of the best-known artist-photographers are featured: Andreas Gursky, Nan Goldin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Richard Billingham, Juergen Teller, Thomas Demand, Yinka Shonibare, Thomas Ruff, JeffWall, Wolfgang Tillmans, and many more. Themed chapters consider subjects such as narrative and storytelling in art photography, photographing the everyday and the insignificant, the use of photography in conceptual art, and the cool, detached, objective aesthetic prevalent in current art photography.’‘
3) On Photography, Susan Sontag
First published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being “In Plato’s Cave,” make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.
4) Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes
This personal, wide-ranging, and contemplative volume–and the last book Barthes published–finds the author applying his influential perceptiveness and associative insight to the subject of photography. To this end, several black-and-white photos (by the likes of Avedon, Clifford, Hine, Mapplethorpe, Nadar, Van Der Zee, and so forth) are reprinted throughout the text.
5) The Mind’s Eye, Henri Cartier-Bresson
”A compilation of writings on photography by one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. His observations ring with the same immediacy and visual intensity that characterize his photographs. Writings from Cartier-Bresson’s books are included, as well as essays on his travels and commentary on photographer friends.”
6) Photography, Stephen Bull
”Photography explores the photograph in the twenty-first century and its importance as a media form. Stephen Bull considers our media-saturated society and the place of photography in everyday life, introducing the theories used to analyse photographs and exploring the impact of digital technology. The text is split into short, accessible chapters on the broad themes central to the study and analysis of photography, and key issues are explained and applied to visual examples in each chapter.”
7) Art and Photography, David Campany
“Art and Photography” surveys a rich and important history, from the 1960s to the 21st century. Arranged thematically, it presents works by the most significant international artists who have explored and extended the boundaries of photography. This influential body of work by over 160 artists over four decades is contextualised in the “Documents” section by original artist’s statements and interviews, as well as lucid reflections on photography by major thinkers of our era such as Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard.
8) The Photographer’s Eye, John Szarkowski
The Photographers Eye, available again after some years out of print, offers a guide to the mediums visual language through works by such early masters as Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Evans, Strand and Weston. In this re-issue, 172 illustrations reveal the extraordinary range of the photograph from the early days of the mediums development to the mid-1960s. They are accompanied by an essay from Szarkowski, one of the most influential photography curators and critics of our time.
9) Thinking Photography, Viktor Burgin
Victor Burgin is Professor in the Board of Studies in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His books include “In/Different Spaces” (California, 1996), “The End of Art Theory” (1986), “Between” (1986), and the collection “Thinking Photography” (1982). His photographic and video works have been exhibited worldwide and are represented in such public collections as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Tate Gallery and The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
10) Art Photography Now, Susan Bright
This lavishly illustrated, accessible survey presents the work of over seventy international artists at the forefront of the boom in photography (e.g. Gursky, Sherman, Calle, Parr, and Barney). Introductions to each section outline the genres and how themes and how issues like memory, time, objectivity, politics, identity and the everyday are tied to certain approaches. Each photographers work is then presented in sequence, with commentaries by the author highlighting the arts most important aspects.