Photography books: your favorites ? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

What are the photography books (LF) that you admire the most, or have found the most inspiring ? I've listed some of the items on my own bookshelf in the new books section of the LF page. In addition, if you care enough for a book to write a short description/review for it, I'll add it to that section.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, December 15, 2000


While I admire many landscape photographers and their work, the single most inspiring book that convinced me to pick up a 4x5 camera was :

The High Sierra : Wilderness of Light by Claude Fiddler

It is truly a work of fine art.

-- Richard Ross (, December 15, 2000.

Anything containing George Hurrell's portraits, perhaps - Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits: The Chapman Collection by Mark A. Vieira.

-- Tony Pulsone (, December 15, 2000.

Dispossesion by Lynn Stern. Very beautiful and inspiring.

-- Jose Luiz Vasconcellos (, December 15, 2000.

"Steam, Steel & Stars" by O. Winston Link & "Brett Weston Master Photographer" - even if you don't like Brett's work, the reproductions in this book are the BEST I have ever seen.

More Anon as I consult the bookshelf I'm sure...

-- Sean yates (, December 15, 2000.

The new Arnold Newman anthology from Taschen Press

The Sonoran Desert, Jack Dykinga

Quiet Light, John Sexton

Portraits: Mary Ellen Mark

Photographing Buildings Inside and Out, 2nd edition, Norman McGrath

Singular Images, Ansel Adams

Forms of Passion, Edward Weston

An Autobiography, Richard Avedon

A Sense of Place, Joel Meyerwitz

Cape Light, Joel Meyerwitz

-- Ellis Vener (, December 15, 2000.

My goodness, there are so many. Edward Weston's "Daybooks," and Paul Strand's "Time in New England," and "Walker Evans at work." "U.S.Camera Annual, 1941," both volumes. "A Way of Seeing," by Helen Levitt, and "A Point of View," by Ralph Steiner. Larry Clark's "Tulsa," and the essay in his "Teen Age Lust." Biographies of Dorothea Lange, and Gene Smith, and Ansel Adams. Antholgies of the work of Cartier-Bresson, and Karsh, and Avedon. That's a good start, eh, Sean?

-- Bill Mitchell (, December 15, 2000.

John Sexton's "Listen To The Trees" for Black and White and Christopher Burkett"s absolutely stunning " Intimations Of Paradise" book for 8x10 color. After purchasing Christopher's book, I was ready to abandon 4x5 and jumpship to 8x10!!!!

-- Manuel Johnson (, December 15, 2000.

carleton watkin's Photographs of the Columbia River and Oregon, pare's photography and architecture 1839-1939, frizot's new history, rosenblum's world history, robinson's architecture transformed, szarkowski's photography until now, diane arbus monograph, cca monograph on edouard baldus, palmquist's Carleton E. Watkins: Photographer of the American West, it's hard to know where to stop...

-- jnorman (, December 15, 2000.

I new I'd forgotten some - Meyerowitz's "St. Louis and the Arch" - should be required viewing for all photo students

and Nicholas Nixon's "Family Portraits" from Smithsonian Press

-- Sean yates (, December 15, 2000.

Anything by Craig and Nadine Blacklock, particularly "Border Country" and "The Lake Superior Images"...exquisite composition and extremely good printing. In large part these two books got me into LF.

-- Danny Burk (, December 15, 2000.

I enjoy John Fielder's "Colorado winter", Christopher Burkett's "Intimations of Pardise" (superb reproductions, and William Neill's "Landscapes of the Spirit." All of these books reaffirm why I started doing large format photography in the first place.

-- Ted Brownlee (, December 15, 2000.

Ansel Adams books I, II, III. His portfolios. Modern Architecture by Ezra Stoller. Buildings Inside and Out by Norman McGrath is good. Thomas Alcorn Photographs published by Rizzoli.

-- neil poulsen (, December 15, 2000.

This fall I took the time (after nearly 30 years) to re-read Edward Weston's Daybooks and thououghly enjoyed them.

Then I bought a copy of "Through Another Lens, My Years with Edward Weston". It is the memoir of his wife-model-partner, Charis Wilson. It's an interesting story and gives a unique view into the life and lifestyle of Weston from 1934 to 1945.

-- Dave Richhart (, December 15, 2000.

"Tell me what you read, I'll tell you who you are"? We live in days where absurdity is elevated in the rank of "Art". LF photography is strongly rooted into reality and tends to recenter man into the original natural environment, instead of escaping in artificial or man made worlds. I remember seeing some portraits or nudes from Strand or Bullock taken in natural settings in camera magazines when I was a young lad that had a strong effect on me. I later choose an approach of the landscape where man is not present but where he is invited. Many photography books were inspirational to me. But as far as LF is concerned I would mention:

Shinzo Maeda's trilogy including "A tree, a blade of Grass","Kamikoshi", "Okumikawa" where my first and perhaps most inspiring LF books, followed by many others from Ansel Adams "Examples"and"In Color", Jack Dykinga "Sonoran Desert"and more recent "Stone Canyons" and "Desert", J. Wawrzonek "Walking", Larry Ulrich "Wildflowers of California", John Sexton "Listen to the trees"and "Quiet Light", William Neill "Landscape of the Spirit", Christopher Burkett "Intimations of Paradise" and "Robert Frost Seasons", David Muench "Ancient America"and "Nature's America", Steve Mulligan "Terra Incognita", and other corporate photography books.

-- Paul Schilliger (, December 16, 2000.

From my above: Was it Strand? Or rather E. Weston. Portrait with beautiful old tree in the back.

-- Paul Schilliger (, December 16, 2000.

In addition to many mentioned:

"Natural Light" Joseph Holmes "Rio Grande, Mountains to the Sea" Jim Bones

-- Glenn Kroeger (, December 16, 2000.


hard to tell, but it sure sounds like Bullock to me

-- Sean yates (, December 16, 2000.

Bill Brandt Perspectives on nudes - he used an ex-police or ex-WD kodak wide angle camera.

-- David Kirk (, December 16, 2000.

Also check out Huntington Witherill, Paul Caponigro, Morley Baer, Ray McSaveny, Ruth Bernhard, Rolfe Horn, and Chuck Farmer who teaches excellent LF workshops along with his friend Richard Garrod. James

-- lumberjack (, December 16, 2000.

Many of the above mentioned books & authors/photographers I would second. In my childhood, I would have to say that the book, "Family of Man" by Steichen et al had a most profound impact upon me. Early editions of the National Geographic not to mention Life likewise had not only a photographic impact but perhaps more importantly, instilled upon me a sense of humanity and curiousity about man & nature. A 1950's edition of the Leica Manuel my parents possessed was stimulating. The "History of Photography" by Beaumont Newhall ranks right up there for me. And I have to plug Professor Bill Jay's (ASU) book, "Negative & Positive" if my memory serves me well. This Brit cuts to the meat & tosses out the fat about photography & art.

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (, December 16, 2000.

Has no one seen books by Frederick Evans? Some of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen, and through his work (platinum prints) you can really learn what it means to "see the light".

-- William Levitt (, December 17, 2000.

Although these photographers may or may not have used large format equipment. My favorite books include books of Minor White,(Jupiter Portfolio in particular) Imogene Cunningham,(anything she did)Bernice Abbot,Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Wynn Bullock, Doris Uleman and of course the God himself Ansel. But I find I enjoy Fred Sommer (Images) and there is one book I particularly enjoy it is Celebrating the Negative. I love reading and re-reading Bill Jay's On Photography. Or anything that he has written. I see myself sitting in the darkened theatre after lunch 25 years ago listening to Bill mezmerize all of us. He probably had the most influence on my life at least as far as photography goes. I find when I am holding critique, its Bill's nudges I feel. Cutting through the crap and getting to the meat of the image. When I am shooting I find I hear his English accent asking someone in my head " where my dear is your image?" But, I find that whatever book I am currently reading it becomes my favorite. I do not get inspiration from books, I get inspiration from life.

-- jacque staskon (, December 17, 2000.

Jacque-- S'il vous plait-----Est vous Francais???????? I would have to agree with your comments re: Bill Jay-------I can not get enough of his material, and I have read most of his works. I find him to have a voice which is not heard very often in the photographic community, perhaps a voice at the end of the tunnel, a source of light, however, very few people accept his demenor or thoughts. In an earlier life time, I saught out Professor Jay at ASU in Tempe to do research, and I would have to say he is one of my mentors in the photographic community and another if I may, Mr. Hal Gould, Curator/Director of the Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver. In the above post, I did mention that he, Jay, cuts through the fat, and you likewise, make a similar comment. Please share with me & others, how you came upon Jay's books & thoughts. Merci! Raymond A. Bleesz

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (, December 17, 2000.

No big mystery about Bill Jay. I am an Arizona Native. I went to ASU. Bill was my advisor. Hope that clears things up. j

-- jacque staskon (, December 18, 2000.

I second many of the books on Paul's list. In addition, there is a really excellent series of books available at the photography museum in Ebisu in Tokyo on Japanese photographers. One of my favourites is Tabuchi Yukio.

One of the worst books I have ever come across is a critical study of Carier Bresson entitled HCB and the artless art. The photographs are superb, but the words must count as some of the densest and most pretentious verbiage ever written.

-- fw (, December 18, 2000.

Hi David, would you know where it is possible to get some good photography books from japanese photographers? It is always difficult to access japanese websites because of the langage barrier and visiting Tokyo is not yet on my wish list. I have seen some photos here and there from japanese photographers and they really appealed to see more. These people have a high sense of aesthetics.

Jacque, I like your conclusion " I do not get inspiration from books, I get inspiration from life". (Once more we guys need a woman to bring us back down to earth!) Would you mind telling us a bit more? Ansel had a perception of the "music" of things. Do you experience such thing when you photograph? A communion with your subject? Or a hunter-picker approach? Sorry, it's a vast question!

-- Paul Schilliger (, December 18, 2000.

I agree with the part about Bill Jay. He is very good at writting. But I would disagree with not getting inspiration from books. You may not but I and many folks I know get great inspiration from books and galleries. In fact when I teach, I tell students to go out and look at every book they can get. Other's ideas are a wellspring of other ideas. James

-- lumberjack (, December 18, 2000.

Hi Jacques Staskon, Hi Raymond Bleesz, I agree with your opinion about Bill Jay. He really cuts the fat and drills to the bone. I would like to read more from him, but it is not so easy to get the stuff here in Switzerland. Any news, suggestion, information is therefore very welcome and appreciated. Thanks and a happy, successful new year. Urs Bernhard

-- Urs Bernhard (, December 24, 2000.

Any book showing the black and white photographs of EDUARD J. STEICHEN. Many of his portraits and landscapes are absolutely stunning. He mastered use of light and shade -- a photographer of immense artistic talen

-- David Caldwell (, December 24, 2000.

richard avedon - in the american west robert frank - the americans

-- bart vdv (, April 24, 2001.

Brett Weston Master Photographer

The ABSOLUTE BEST reproductions of ANY photographers work I've ever seen. Well worth the $125.00 price tag IMHO

-- Sean yates (, April 24, 2001.

Sally Mann's "Immediate Family" and "Mother Land." She uses an 8x10 view camera and the former book especially shows how the use of selective focus in the hands of an artist can conjure up a world of dreams and memories. Her recent landscape work is deliberately vignetted in-camera (at least that's what it looks like) and exposed on collodion wet plates. The prints have a rough, primitive quality (while being grainless) which is very effective. "Mother Land" looks like it's beautifully reproduced until you see the orginals, then you realize it's not. But still buy it.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, June 04, 2001.

Robert-Parke Harrison, The Architech's Brother. Very interesting and extremely creative. Incredible textures and emotions. I was awe struck. James

-- james (, June 04, 2001.

Picked up a book at a used bookstore called "Images and Essays" edited by Beaumont Newhall. It is a fascinating and inspiring book with essays (in their own words) from photographers such as Adams, Steiglitz, Weston, Fox Talbot, Lange, Wendell Holmes etc. It covers from the birth of photography (newspaper reports of Niepce/Daguerre) up until around 1980. The essay from Ansel Adams alone is worth getting the book for. Plus it contains photographs that are truly inspirational.

-- Lee Turner (, June 21, 2001.

photography books are okay to read. Sally Manns books are very interesting to read. They help me to know her life and her kids.

-- amanda cintron (, April 26, 2002.

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