23. June 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: All


Where do you start to understand what photography is about?

  It occurs to me that there is a starting place, a foundation of its aesthetics, history, and the science of photography. This photographic foundation is wrapped within hundreds of dusk jackets written mostly by photographers‘, about photography from their lives as photographers.

  For nearly 50 years since my earliest student days I have bought these books to be fascinated by them, entranced by their printed picture, and then using their contents to think about photography to become a photographer.

Updated 12/2018
“Berenice Abbott”, Van Haaften (Biographical) ISBN 9780393292787
The Biography of Berenice Abbott which digs into Abbott‘s life and reveals startling details of her early life: Berenice‘s early upbringing, to her life in the east village, to her life looking for art/women/men in all the wrong places and her photography teacher and savior ManRay. And that‘s just the first four chapters.

“Only The Lonely”, William Gedney (Documentary) ISBN 978-1-4773-1483-8
“You don‘t photograph because you have a camera, you photography because you have eyes.”

“SEACOAL” Chris Killip,  (Documentary) ISBN 978-3-86930-256-0
Showing the life of people living on the edge by foraging coal from the ocean.

“Platteland” Roger Ballen, (Documentary) ISBN 0-312-14187-4
One of a series of books documenting the other side of Aparteid in South Africa. Ballen‘s photographs show marginal white miners scratching out a living in the flatlands of northwest South Africa. Communities of doctor less families often with incestuous marriages.

“The Jazz Loft Project” Sam Stephenson, (Documentary) ISBN 978-0-307-26709-2
“Photographs and Tapes of W. Eugene Smith From 821 Sixth Avenue
From1957 through 1965 Smith lived and worked in a loft which had multiple floors. After the Jazz Clubs closed in New York City, these same jazz musicians would gather at Smith‘s loft and jamed into the wee hours of the morning. Smith had drilled holes in the floors so he could run speaker cable to record those jam sessions.
Smith also had a broken window where he would set-up a tripod and capture the street outside his loft which was located in the middle of the wholesale flower district. Smith recorded thousands of taped hours of radio broadcast besides the jam sessions.

“Arrivals & Departures” Garry Winogrand, (Documentary) ISBN 1-891024-47-7
That‘s exactly what is in the book, people coming and going as only Winogrand could show you. It was made posthumously by Lee Friedlander his dear friend and street bud. Some pictures look so simple and they are. That‘s what Garry was good at, looking at the world we all live in and wish we could have been there.

The Printed Picture, Richard Benson, ISBN-10: 0870707213
Picture processes which allow you to study photography’s image making history.

Looking At Photographs, John Szarkowski, ISBN-10: 0870705156
The founding father and ideology of American photography.

Eugene Atget, Szarkowski, ISBN-10: 0870700944
The Avatar of modern photography.

American Photographs, Walker Evans, ISBN-10: 087070835X
The extension of Atget, adding Evans lyrical documentary approach to photography.

The Unknown Berenice Abbott, ISBN-10: 3869306505
Her unpublished documentary projects, Greenwich Village, U.S. 1, U.S.A., New York & more.

Daring To Look, Dorothea Lange, ISBN-10: 9780226769851
The story behind one the hardest working and sincere humanist in documentary photography.

The Americans, Robert Frank, ISBN-10: 386521584X
The book that launched a million Leicas, seeing 1950’s America through Frank’s own subjective vision.

Sergio Larrain, Aperture Publication, ISBN 978-1-59711-259-8
A Latin American photographer who become a Monk, then a writer of prose, a thinker of images and image making.

Garry Winogrand, SFMOA Publication, ISBN-10: 0300191774
Retrospective catalog of a photographer who removed emotions from image making.

East 100th Street, Bruce Davidson, ISBN-10: 0971368139
A great documentary subject shot in large format with intimate closeness.

Notations In Passing, Nathan Lyons, ISBN-10: 0262620286
Personal interpretations and sequencing by one of the great thinkers of photography.

Memories of Myself, Danny Lyons, ISBN-10: 0714848514
Making photographs of the most common and prosaic beauty.

Richard Nickel’s Chicago, ISBN-10: 0978545028
One man’s fight to save the great architecture of early modern Chicago, and his personal view of people.

Detroit 1968, Enrico Natali, ISBN-978-0-983587-04-0
A peek into America after the summer of love. When people smoked in offices and wore white shirts and black ties.

Found Photos In Detroit, Arianna Arcara & Luca Santese , ISBN-978-88-906328-3-9
An unusual and a bit macabre publication of found images which suggest that every photograph has an afterlife.

40 Examples, Ansel Adams, ISBN-10: 082121750X
Stories of how Ansel made his great landscape images, with interesting technical revelations.

Vivian Meir, Out of the shadows, ISBN-10: 1576875776
A recent unknown house keeper and nanny, who’s vision of the street and her world is simply amazing.

The World Through My Eyes, Daido Moriyama, ISBN-10: 8857200612
A look at the ideas of a Japanese photographer brought-up in Japan after WW2, stark and inky.

Photography Changes Everything, Edited by Marvin Heiferman, ISBN 978-1-59711-199-7
Short edited essays on how the invention of photography changed our world and how photographic images have made our world.

The Ongoing Moment, Geoff Dyer, ISBN-10: 0375422153
A writer who doesn’t own a camera, but writes about it as if he invented it.

Books are silk tapestries in my hands. They carry more than ink on paper, they carry vision.

Craig Carlson / 2019

All Content ©Copyright Craig Carlson 2013-2019 All Rights Reserved

Comments closed.