Looking for some printed inspiration? Below are five photography books published in the last year that are worth picking up, plus a few worthy reprints.
Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio
By Lindsay Adler
Whether you’re a working pro or aspiring photographer, a strong portfolio is something we all strive for, but finding the inspiration to create those meeting-worthy images can be challenging. New York City-based portrait and fashion photographer Lindsay Adler provides the illusive creative spark we all need from time to time in her new book, Creative 52: Weekly Projects to Invigorate Your Photography Portfolio. Through a year’s worth of weekly projects designed to ramp up your technical skills and get your creative juices flowing, Adler helps you get motivated and ultimately puts you on the road to a better portfolio. With three sections covering concepts, technique, and post-processing, the book’s well-rounded approach has something for everyone, week in and week out. Practice makes perfect, and if you commit to and follow through with the exercises Adler provides, your work and portfolio are sure to improve.
Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits
By Gregory Heisler
We all love the story behind the image, so who better to take us on a journey of 35 years of innovative editorial images and portraits than famed photographer and renowned educator Gregory Heisler? A photographers’ photographer who has shot over 70 covers for Time magazine, Heisler has been described as having “the mind of a scientist, the heart of a journalist, and the eye of an artist.” In this long-anticipated collection, he takes us behind the scenes of his most iconic images. A who’s who of celebrities and personalities, such as Muhammad Ali, Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts, and President George H. W. Bush provides the backdrop for this revealing look at Heisler’s image-making process. Thanks to his signature plainspoken style and “teach a man to fish” approach, the book explains not only the tools and techniques he uses, but also answers the all-important “why?” behind those choices. Anyone who appreciates great storytelling, a gifted artist, and a talented teacher will find this book a welcome addition to their photography library.
Caught in the Act
By Howard Schatz, Beverly J. Ornstein, and Owen Edwards
In the celebrity-obsessed landscape we find ourselves in, it would be easy to dismiss Howard Schatz’s latest outing, Caught in the Act: Actors Acting. However, that would be a terrible mistake, because you’d be missing out on a true gem. Schatz, an internationally known, critically acclaimed and award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Time, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, and GQ, hits another home run with Caught in the Act, his 20th book. Beautifully photographed, lit, printed and designed, this collection of portraits lovingly depicts the craft of acting and features 85 of its most lauded practitioners. Actors featured include John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne, John Goodman, and Sir Ben Kingsley among others. Through a series of one-on-one improvisations, Schatz serves as director, coaxing the actors, exploring the nature of transformation, their dynamic energy, and the unique chameleon-like abilities that have propelled these performers to the top of their profession. Extensive interviews with each actor focusing on the creative process round out this exquisite effort.
George Hurrell’s Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992
By Mark A. Vieira
This one’s for all you lighting and portrait geeks out there. (Don’t be insulted — I’m referring to myself as well.) Anyone who loves light and shadow, classic glamour, and golden-era Hollywood elegance is going to love this gorgeous collection of stunning portraits from the creator of the genre himself — George Hurrell. His bold lighting style and seductive posing helped define the art of the movie-star portrait and spawned a legion of stylistic followers to this day. Known as the “Rembrandt of Hollywood,” Hurrell created captivating images of Norma Shearer, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and countless others. In addition to 420 images, with many never seen before, George Hurrell’s Hollywood: Glamour Portraits 1925-1992 paints a vivid picture of the artist’s life, from the enormous success he enjoyed at the height of his career to his fall from grace and eventual reemergence as a creative voice. Beautiful, big, lavishly printed, and an engrossing read, this is a seminal book about this important artist.
By James Houston
For his latest project, leading beauty and celebrity photographer James Houston has trained his lens on bringing awareness to the green movement. For his new coffee-table book, Natural Beauty, he has produced luxurious, saturated, and beautiful portraits of the world’s leading environmentally conscious celebrities and models. Subjects include Adrian Grenier and Emma Watson, Christy Turlington, Elle Macpherson, Arizona Muse, and Anja Rubik, among many others. Each is paired with simple elements from nature — driftwood, stone, coral, or metal — each depicting the human form along with the beauty of nature. Houston’s effort to raise awareness and funds for Global Green USA is definitely a noble cause. The portraits, lighting, and production value are all top-flight, if not completely conceptually connected to nature. “Green” meets “Celebrity” — clever marketing ploy or important message via high visibility messengers? You decide.
It’s unfortunate that due to relatively small print runs, great photography books can come and go in the blink of eye, often becoming scarce before many are even aware of their existence. A few recent reprints worth saying “welcome back” to are:
Weegee: Murder Is My Business
By Brian Wallis
Press photographers are about as hard-bitten a crowd as you’re likely to find. But even they have heroes, and Weegee is one of them. “Weegee,” a pseudonym for New York press photographer Arthur Fellig (1899-1968), is known as much for his signature Speed Graphic camera and police-band radio as for his ability to beat the police to crime scenes. Weegee worked between 1935 and 1946, becoming New York City’s quintessential press photographer. Often stark and unsettling, his lurid black-and-white photographs accurately depict the dark underbelly of New York City’s mid-century crime scene while still managing to convey an inherent humanity. Part biography and part historical document, Weegee: Murder Is My Business chronicles Weegee’s career as a press photographer, his relationships with the tabloid press, the police and infamous gangsters, and his eventual transition to photo detective. If you love NYC history, noir style, and a slightly darker tale, this book — aptly laid out in dossier style — is for you.
Seen Behind the Scene
By Mary Ellen Mark
How would you like a backstage pass to some of the most iconic film sets of our time? Mary Ellen Mark’s Seen Behind the Scene, now available in paperback, gives you just that. Mark, a preeminent photojournalist and icon in her own right, was given rare, all-access privileges to over one hundred film sets over the past four decades. This carte blanche, along with Mark’s unparalleled artistic vision, enabled her to record enduring behind-the-scenes images of some of the most celebrated directors, actors, and film productions of our generation as only she could. In photographs that range from dramatic moments of Federico Fellini at work on Satyricon to the well-known pranksters Jack Nicholson and Dustin Hoffman goofing around on set, and from Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt rehearsing in Morocco for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel to Johnny Depp in makeup for Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, we are given access to unguarded moments in filmmaking and to this rarely seen world. Anecdotes and inside stories from Sofia Coppola, Helen Mirren, and Mike Nichols provide a fascinating glimpse into the filmmaking process. This book serves as a backstage pass sure to appeal to film and photography enthusiasts, or to anyone who ever wondered just what goes on behind the scenes.
Magnum Contact Sheets
Kristen Lubben (Editor)
Thames & Hudson
Magnum photographers’ classic images have become part of our collective consciousness, capturing the world’s triumphs and tragedies, the famous and the infamous. Until now, in most cases, we’ve only seen the final edited image(s) from these shoots — still photographs are moments in time and part of a continuum rarely seen. In Magnum Contact Sheets, editor Kristin Lubben gives us a peek behind the curtain at almost 140 contact sheets from nearly 70 of Magnum’s top photographers. Along with shoot details, press cards, notebooks, and magazine spreads, the book reveals the creative process behind the photographs and examines the editorial criteria involved in selecting some of the most enduring images of our time. At just over 500 pages and containing over 435 images, this oversized edition, beautifully printed and bound, is sure to appeal to anyone nostalgic for wet darkroom techniques, or wanting a look at the inner workings of top photographers and their editors.
See more by Michael Corsentino here.