What Should You Read to Make Good Street Photos?

Vivian Maier – Street Photographer

A good street photographer must be possessed of many talents: an eye for detail, light, and composition; impeccable timing; a populist or humanitarian outlook; and a tireless ability to constantly shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and never miss a moment. It is hard enough to find these

qualities in trained photographers with the benefit of schooling and mentors and a community of fellow artists and aficionados supporting and rewarding their efforts. It is incredibly rare to find it in someone with no formal training and no network of peers.

Yet Vivian Maier is all of these things, a professional nanny, who from the 1950s until the 1990s took over 100,000 photographs worldwide—from France to New York City to Chicago and dozens of other countries—and yet showed the results to no one. The photos are amazing both for the breadth of the work and for the high quality of the humorous, moving, beautiful, and raw images of all facets of city life in America’s post-war golden age.


Robert Frank – The Americans

One of the most Classic Photography Books available.

First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank’s The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life. And it was not just Frank’s subject matter–cars, jukeboxes and even the road itself―that redefined the icons of America; it was also his seemingly intuitive, immediate, off-kilter style, as well as his method of brilliantly linking his photographs together thematically, conceptually, formally and linguistically, that made The Americans so innovative. More of an ode or a poem than a literal document, the book is as powerful and provocative today as it was 56 years ago.


Bruce Gilden – Stern Fotografie

A documentary artist in the tradition of street photographers such as Weegee, Bruce Gilden has a sharp eye for idiosyncrasy. Unlike many other street photographers, Gilden often used his flash to make his subject aware that they were being photographed and draw them closer to his lens, much in the way that theater lighting draws the audience nearer to the actors on a stage. The resulting intimacy is rare of images largely set in urban locations and public spaces.

Before launching his photographic career, Gilden studied sociology and so was keenly aware of how environments serve to define people. An expressive realist, the Magnum photographer conveys the nuances of each milieu with exquisite integrity. Gilden’s locations range from Coney Island to Haiti to the restricted worlds of Ireland’s horse trading and the yakuza, the families of Japan’s criminal underworld.


Koudelka – Exiles

About Exiles, Cornell Capa once wrote, Koudelka’s unsentimental, stark, brooding, intensely human imagery reflects his own spirit, the very essence of an exile who is at home wherever his wandering body finds haven in the night. In this newly revised and expanded edition of the 1988 classic, which includes ten new images and a new commentary with Robert Delpire, Koudelka’s work once more forms a powerful document of the spiritual and physical state of exile. The sense of private mystery that fills these photographs—mostly taken during Koudelka’s many years of wandering through Europe and Great Britain since leaving his native Czechoslovakia in 1968—speaks of passion and reserve, of his rage to see. Solitary, moving, deeply felt and strangely disturbing, the images in Exiles suggest alienation, disconnection and love. Exiles evokes some of the most compelling and troubling themes of the twentieth century, while resonating with equal force in this current moment of profound migrations and transience.


Garry Winogrand – Monography

Widely regarded as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Garry Winogrand (1928–1984) did much of his best-known work in Manhattan during the 1960s, becoming an epic chronicler of that tumultuous decade. But Winogrand was also an avid traveler and roamed extensively around the United States, bringing exquisite work out of nearly every region of the country.

This landmark retrospective catalogue looks at the full sweep of Winogrand’s exceptional career. Drawing from his enormous output, which at the time of his death included thousands of rolls of undeveloped film and unpublished contact sheets, the book will serve as the most substantial compendium of Winogrand’s work to date. Lavishly illustrated with both iconic images and photographs that have never been seen before now, and featuring essays by leading scholars of American photography, Garry Winogrand presents a vivid portrait of an artist who unflinchingly captured America’s swings between optimism and upheaval in the postwar era.


Alex Webb – The Suffering of Light

A definite recommendation for Color Photography Books.

“The Suffering of Light” is the first comprehensive monograph charting the career of acclaimed American photographer Alex Webb. Gathering some of his most iconic images, many of which were taken in the far corners of the earth, this exquisite book brings a fresh perspective to his extensive catalog. Recognized as a pioneer of American color photography since the 1970s, Webb has consistently created photographs characterized by intense color and light. His work, with its richly layered and complex composition, touches on multiple genres, including street photography, photojournalism, and fine art, but as Webb claims, “to me it all is photography. You have to go out and explore the world with a camera.” Webb’s ability to distill gesture, color and contrasting cultural tensions into single, beguiling frames results in evocative images that convey a sense of enigma, irony and humor. Featuring key works alongside previously unpublished photographs, “The Suffering of Light” provides the most thorough examination to date of this modern master’s prolific, 30-year career.