Since the dawn of the camera in 1888, photography has always been viewed as a way of capturing a moment in time. Be it a portrait, a landscape or an object of interest, photographs show us a split-second image that can be immortalised. Creating evidence of history or events is something we can all do today using our smartphones and easy-to-use cameras, but is that the true art of photography?
Photography as an art form has always been a thorny subject. Those who reside in the “photography is art” camp will tell you that each picture has depth, context and a sense of that moment in time. Those with the “art is classical” attitude will tell you that taking a photograph is simply a click of a button.
No matter which opinion you have, there is still something to be appreciated and admired about famous photographers and their craft. From Helmut Newton’s portraits of the female body to Sebastiao Salgado’s view of the world, each image portrays far more than we can ever comprehend. These works are created to be admired, discussed, even argued over, and treasured for a lifetime. Our picks for the best photography books will not only look great on your coffee table but will spark conversations you’d never think possible in other circumstances.
Sebastiao Salgado – Amazonia
Salgado’s career as a photographer has spanned nearly 30 years and provides us with a glimpse into worlds that would otherwise be unknown. Shedding light on some of the world’s most challenging issues within society such as migration, industrial workers and war zones, it’s no surprise that his latest collection, Amazonia, captures the lives of those living and working in the Amazon rainforest.
This photography coffee table book comes in an Art Edition (of which there are 400), Collectors Edition (of which there are 2000) and even a Sumo Edition for those wanting to display these beautiful images in full view. Released in Oct 2021, these limited edition pieces are just as much of an investment as they are a statement piece for your home.Shop now
Helmut Newton – SUMO 20th Anniversary Edition
Helmut Newton is synonymous with Fashion Photography and a career spanning the decades – it’s no surprise that this 20th Anniversary Edition of the SUMO photography book is a work of art in itself. Showcasing all the great images Newton produced, from his Giant Nudes to his Vanity Fair shoots, this book not only ties together these images into one cohesive reading but also annotates and educates the viewer through a series of anecdotes and informational pieces as well.
With over 464 images and an additional booklet that takes you behind the scenes of creating the book, this anniversary edition which pays homage to the great works of Helmut Newton does not disappoint.Shop now
Mario Testino – SIR Private View
Testino is part of photography royalty, not least because he has photographed many real-life Royals! Testino has worked with the likes of Gucci, Burberry, Chanel and Michael Kors as well as creating beautiful spreads for Vogue and Vanity Fair. Testino has an absolute talent for wiping the veneer off “celebrity” and replacing it with sheer beauty – it really is an art form.
In this photography book, you’ll find candid images of some of the most A list celebrities, some in well-known settings while others are far from their comfort zone. Available in three different colours, this photography coffee table book will look stunning in any home.Shop now
Peter Lindbergh – On Fashion Photography
While Testino’s talent lies in showing us a different side of celebrities, Lindbergh’s images present the utter beauty and art that lies within fashion. Focusing heavily on supermodels, Lindbergh creates stunning scenes in which the beauty of the model, the detail in the fashion and the context surrounding the photograph all come together to create art. In this book, On Fashion Photography, we see over 300 images (many of which are previously unpublished) which Lindbergh affectionately calls “so-called photography”.
This coffee table edition of On Fashion Photography includes shots of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Lara Stone and Cindy Crawford to name but a few. The book contains anecdotes and snippets of stories behind his works and navigates his earlier career as he discusses the difficulties behind photography as commercial art and photography as fine art, making this book both a wonder to admire and to learn from.Shop now
Michael Dayton Herman – Warhol on Basquiat
Those who have a passion for photography, not just for the images but for the context behind them, will enjoy learning more about the relationship between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in this wonderful coffee table photography book. Set against a 1980s downtown New York backdrop, this book goes through the ups and downs of both their personal and professional partnership.
Featuring unpublished photographs of both Warhol and Basquiat with their celebrity friends such as Grace Jones and Madonna, this book takes a closer look behind the scenes of what we perceive their relationship to be. With excerpts from the Andy Warhol Diaries to accompany, this book is the perfect gift for the photography buff in your life.Shop now
The Pedro Almodóvar Archives
If cinematography is more your scene, then this coffee table photography book will hit the spot. Based around the career of Pedro Almodóvar, one of the most talented film directors, screenwriters and producers the world has ever seen, this behind the scenes look featuring first-hand recounts from the man himself prove to be a compulsive reading. Spanning several of his original works, this book is filled with candid images, movie posters and interviews with the cast and production crews of each film.
Not just a “fan club guide”, this book highlights the process Almodóvar uses to approach a film, his mindset towards his cinematography and his true passion for this art form. Available as a hardback photography book, The Pedro Almodóvar Archives collection will sit beautifully with any other photography book and hold its own against those that feel like cinematography isn’t art.Shop now