6 Books That You Need to Read Before Becoming a Photograph

William Eggletson Portraits, published by National Portrait Gallery Publications

Every wall deserves to have a William Eggleston photograph hanging on it. But if your bank account can’t stretch to the high price tag, then this book is the perfect substitute. Full of large-scale reproductions from Eggleston’s acclaimed Portraits exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery, the allure of the pioneering American photographer will leave you pining for the USA of yesteryear.

Factory: Andy Warhol by Stephen Shore, published by Phaidon

After meeting Warhol at a film co-op in New York, the budding 17-year-old Shore started to visit The Factory nearly everyday, photographing the studio’s activities from 1967. ‘In choosing the pictures for this book, I asked myself: if you didn’t know who any of these people were, would that still be an interesting picture?’, said Shore of his selection process. Filled with captivating black-and-white photographs of Warhol at work, his muse Edie Sedgwick partying away and a plethora of musicians, actors, and artists including Nico, Lou Reed and Yoko Ono, who frequented the Manhattan studio, this glimpse of the inner circle will make you wish you’d been invited to the party.

Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements, published by Thames & Hudson

Through the lens of Edward Burtynsky, our world becomes a beautifully abstract version of itself. Aerial shots of land masses take on painterly qualities, abandoned shipyards feel like film sets and architectural compositions become scientifically tantalising. The former director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, William A. Ewing, curates and edits this survey publication of the Canadian photographer’s four-decade career that has questioned the impact of human activity upon the natural environment. Stunning yet disconcerting, Burtynsky’s photographs take you to places you never knew existed.

Photos that Changed the World, published by Prestel

From the earliest photograph of Machu Picchu to a 2015 NASA space probe photo of Pluto, this book chronicles historical events through powerful, beautiful, awe-inspiring and sometimes shocking images. With an insightful opening essay by Peter Stepan, the book’s editor, this collection of nearly one hundred photographs, taken by photojournalists and iconic photographers including Diane Arbus and Dorothea Lange, brilliantly illustrates our culturally diverse world.

Total Excess by Michael Zagaris, published by Real Art Press

If there was one photographer who managed to capture the best of San Francisco’s rock music scene in the 1970s and 80s, it was Michael Zagaris. From The Clash and the Sex Pistols to Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, Zagaris’ portraits emulate an era of rock history we all wish we could have been a part of. Zagaris fell into photography after becoming disillusioned with his politics degree in a post-Kennedy-assassination climate, and he was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, snapping music gigs for pleasure rather than money. As the majority of his archive has remained unseen, this complete anthology is a compelling ode to rock and a must for all die-hard music fans.

Polaroid, published by Frances Lincoln

The enchanting quality of the original instant photograph is explored and celebrated in Florian Kaps’ book. ‘This book aims to be different, not only entertaining and maybe educating you but also seducing you,’ says Kaps. The co-founder of The Impossible Project, an initiative intended to maintain film production, charts Polaroid’s early days with Edwin Land’s invention of instant film in the 1940s all the way to the discontinuation of Polaroid and its subsequent renewed fame. Both nostalgic and revelatory, this book is ideal for fans of Instagram.