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25 Photography Books That Will Change Your View Of The World

From documentary and politics to the worlds of fashion and art, here are our choices for the best photography books from 2018.

Posted on November 29, 2018, at 4:12 p.m. ET

Undocumented: Immigration and the Militarization of the US–Mexico Border by John Moore (powerHouse Books)

John Moore / Getty Images

“As immigration becomes an increasingly important topic in US politics, John Moore’s visual reporting has become more vital than ever in comprehending the realities of border security in the US.”

—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News

Twins by Peter Zelewski (Hoxton Mini Press)

Peter Zelewski

“Each of Zelewski’s portraits is accompanied by the twins’ own words on their relationships with each other, offering a unique perspective on what it’s like to grow up with someone identical to themselves.”

—G.H.S.

The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual by Andrew Moisey (Daylight Books)

Andrew Moisey

“These pictures, made during the 2000s at an unnamed Greek letter organization at the University of California, Berkeley, capture an intimate, and at times disturbing, look at the environment that shapes many of tomorrow’s leaders.”

—G.H.S.

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography by Paul Martineau (J. Paul Getty Museum)

Glen Luchford

“In 100 years, through both economic prosperity and decline, during periods of conflict and peace, fashion photography has always sought to capture the ethos of popular culture, for better or worse.”

—G.H.S.

Silver Lake Drive by Alex Prager (Chronicle Books)

Alex Prager

“Quite often [Prager’s] subjects are women and the anxieties transferred to viewers are pulled from her own life, while fashioned in the LA-noir or lush and colorful melodramatic styling of Hollywood’s most respected directors of the ’40s and ’50s.”

—Laura Geiser, senior photo editor, BuzzFeed News

Mini Beau Book #10 Flow by Luke Austin (self-published)

Luke Austin

“With a focus mainly on men, trans people, nonbinary people and those within the LGBT community, Austin has used the final book in his Mini Beau Book series to highlight the experience of trans men in the LA area.”

—Neah Gray, photo intern, BuzzFeed News

The Swimming Pool in Photography by Francis Hodgson (Hatje Cantz)

H. Armstrong Roberts / Getty Images

“Francis Hodgson’s new book ... highlights the cultural narrative of this architectural statement — which really, if you think about it, is just a hole in the ground. To Hodgson though, these ditches bear witness to human history.”

—Anna Mendoza, photo editor, BuzzFeed Australia

WO MEN by Rineke Dijkstra (Walther König, Köln)

Rineke Dijkstra / Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

“It is not an exaggeration in the slightest to describe the work of Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra as mesmerizing. Since the 1980s, [Dijkstra] has captured striking photographs in a unique style of portraiture all her own — at first calm and simplistic on the surface, slowly giving weight to the subtle intricacies of posture, fashion, and psyche.”

—G.H.S.

American Fair by Pamela Littky (Kehrer Verlag)

Pamela Littky

American Fair ... is a stunning perspective on the culture surrounding county fairs in the US. Each picture is a portrait of America’s heartland and the time-honored customs that have brought communities together for generations.”

—G.H.S.

Waste Land by David T. Hanson (Taverner Press)

David T. Hanson

“In 1985 and 1986, photographer David T. Hanson, with support from a Guggenheim Fellowship, captured stunning aerial views of the human-made destruction at 67 Superfund sites across 45 states. ... For the very first time, Hanson’s work from all 67 sites will be published in its entirety in the book Waste Land.

—L.G.

A Thousand Crossings by Sally Mann (Abrams Books)

Sally Mann / Gagosian Gallery

“Sally Mann’s images of the American South are contextualized in words that sear our psyche just as deeply as the photographs themselves do. The pictures ... are perhaps some of Mann’s most poignant work, focusing the regions of the US plagued by violent racial histories.”

—G.H.S.

The New York Pigeon: Behind the Feathers by Andrew Garn (powerHouse Books)

Andrew Garn

“They’ve been called ‘flying rats’ and are often the unwelcome guests to a beautiful stroll in the city. Needless to say, pigeons are one bird with a bad rep. But for photographer Andrew Garn, pigeons are creatures of dazzling beauty who conquer tremendous odds each day by surviving in often hostile urban environments.”

—G.H.S.

Bright Black World by Todd Hido (Nazraeli Press)

Todd Hido

“At its heart, this series is a gloriously stark, beautiful exploration of light and color. Bright Black World, a new book by Todd Hido, is mostly devoid of humans, and yet the photographer still manages to stir reflections on the impact and longevity of humanity.”

—Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News

Paper Promises: Early American Photography by Mazie M. Harris (Getty Publications)

J. Paul Getty Museum

Paper Promises: Early American Photography looks back at the influence of early photography in the United States and the many ways in which it shaped the country that we know today.”

—G.H.S.

The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries by Massimo Listri (Taschen)

Massimo Listri / Taschen

“Italian photographer Massimo Listri has spent his career capturing some of the most magnificent and unexpected interiors in the world. His signature style of large-scale and highly detailed pictures is most often shot without a single person in the frame, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves within the magnitude of details that each space offers.”

—G.H.S.

Double Vision: The Photography of George Rodriguez (Hat & Beard Press)

George Rodriguez

“For photographer George Rodriguez, Los Angeles is more than the place he was born and raised — LA is a cultural mecca where Chicanos, or Mexican Americans, have mobilized their community to effect change and preserve their cultural heritage.”

—G.H.S.

Hip Hop Honeys by Brian Finke (powerHouse Books)

Brian Finke / Powerhouse Books

“Hip Honey Honeys sheds light on a cornerstone of contemporary culture — the rap video. For three years, Brian Finke embedded himself behind the scenes of videos by artists such as Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, and Jay-Z, focusing not on the musicians and their entourages, but rather the women employed as extras on the sets.”

—G.H.S.

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop by Vikki Tobak (Clarkson Potter)

Contact High / Penguin Random House

“The role of photography in hip-hop history is front and center, offering a unique perspective on the charisma, style, and swagger of some of the greatest rappers to ever spit verse.”

—G.H.S.

Where I Find Myself by Joel Meyerowitz (Laurence King Publishing)

Courtesy and Copyright of Joel Meyerowitz

Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself brings together his tremendous archive to create a portrait of not only America during the 20th and early 21st centuries, but also a prolific artist with a lifetime of groundbreaking work.”

—G.H.S.

Ali by Steve Schapiro (powerHouse Books)

Steve Schapiro

Ali recounts the events of June 1963, when Schapiro was assigned by Sports Illustrated to spend five days with a 21-year-old, up-and-coming boxer by the name of Cassius Clay. The experience, captured in Schapiro’s pictures, was a remarkable and revealing encounter with an American legend — not quite the Ali that we think of today, but a young man on the road to be the greatest there ever was.”

—G.H.S.

Vivian Maier: The Color Work by Colin Westerbeck (Harper Design)

Estate of Vivian Maier / Howard Greenberg Gallery

“Maier, a nanny from Chicago who made thousands of pictures and never showed them to a soul, was entirely unknown just over a decade ago and has since been propelled to international stardom as a quintessential documentarian of 20th-century Americana. A glance at these recently unearthed color pictures by Maier will reveal exactly what the hype is about.”

—G.H.S

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs by Luc Sante (Taschen)

Museum of the City of New York

“Through Kubrick’s early photography it’s clear he had a gift for portraying a moment with just the right amount of tension and excitement. Like the early work of any master of their craft, Through a Different Lens will delight any fan of Kubrick’s work with the insight into how he learned to stop worrying and see.”

—L.G.

Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir by Jim Heimann (Taschen)

Cliff Wesselmann / Gregory Paul Williams, BL Press / Taschen

“The book, a compilation of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other materials, reveals that the popular film noir genre of the 1940s and ’50s was fueled by real-world events writers and moviemakers living in the City of Angels were experiencing.”

—L.G.

Found Polaroids by Kyle Zeleny (Aint–Bad)

Kyler Zeleny / Via foundpolaroids.com

“Photographer-researcher Kyler Zeleny has been collecting lost polaroid images from estate sales, eBay, and thrift shops and has amassed over 6,000 of them. ... Although these images have been lost or discarded along the way, it’s clear they used to mean something, and now with Zeleny’s help they still do.”

—L.G.

Evelyn Hofer: New York (Steidl)

Estate of Evelyn Hofer

“There’s a peculiar warmth of nostalgia that permeates through each of these incredible photographs of New York City in the 1960s. ... Evelyn Hofner’s color images are crystalized scenes of tableaux vivants, rich in vibrancy and tone.”

—G.H.S.


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