As part of our resources for Documentary Photography, we also have an overview of books on Street Photography. The aim is to identify books and other resources that people have found useful and to provide a little background. This is not a formal RPS or documentary endorsement of the book or resource; but think of it more as a growing catalogue that might be worth exploring.
Street photography can be thought of as sitting within the broader documentary field, but with a specific context - of being ‘taken on the street’ or in ‘a public place’, and so representing a little of human life today and what it is has to offer visually. There are contested views on what constitutes ‘street’ and even more heated debate on issues like staging, street portraiture, the degree of post-processing allowed and moral issues around ‘candid’ versus ‘voyeurism’ and ‘exploitation’, but those debates are for elsewhere.
Street images can, and do, span both ‘documentation’ and ‘art’. For those interested or looking to develop their skills there are many books and photobooks to inform and inspire. To start with is a small list of books written largely about or for street photography and a few web-based resources.
General books on ‘street photography’
Colin Westerbeck and Joel Meyerowitz, Bystander: A History of Street Photography, 2017. Originally published in 1994 and hailed as a ‘landmark’. It is now recently revised and reissued, a classic street photography book, covering the history of the genre and some classic images from a wide range of photographers.
Sophie Howart and Stephen McLean, Street Photography Now, 2010. Popular street photography book, a good selection of more recent street images. Recently re-printed.
M Seabond & A Spahan (eds.), London Street Photography 1860-2010 (Pub. Dewi Lewis), 2011. 150 years of street-based photography, for those with a historical interest. London Street Photography was published in association with The Museum of London to coincide with a major exhibition.
David Gibson, The Street Photographers Manual, 2014. Good basic guidance on street photography and approaches. Has a useful bibliography.
Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris-Webb, Street Photography and the Poetic Image, 2014. A summary of street photography beyond the record shot, or quirky snap
For those interested in the work of classic street photographers - examples of monographs or extensive projects
Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment, 2014, Originally published in 1952, an essential reference from one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century
Robert Doisneau, Paris, 2005 & 2010, Classic early French street images
Walker Evans, American Photographs, 2012, A classic observer of humankind, first published in 1938 by MoMA.
Robert Frank, The Americans, 2008, A classic, one of the more important photobooks of 20th century, first published in 1958
Lee Friedlander, Street: the human clay, 2016, Some of Friedlander's street photography taken over the course of more than 50 years
John Maloof (ed.), Vivien Maier Street Photographer, 2011, A collection of the famous female street photographer; only discovered after her death.
Joel Meyerowitz, Retrospective, 2015, Part of the “New Color photography” movement in New York. This retrospective trace his entire oeuvre, from his street photography to his light experimentations made during "the blue hour" in Cape Cod.
Tony Ray Jones, American Colour 1962-1965, 2013, A UK pioneer of colour street photography.
Matt Stuart, All that Life Can Afford, 2016, Modern street photography.
Alex Webb, The Suffering of Light, 2011, An anthology of 30 years of Webb’s work, if you can only get one ‘Webb’ book, this is probably it.
Brian Lloyd Duckett ’52 Assignments : Street Photography’, 127 pages, small hardback, Ammonite Press, 2018 - Packed with ideas to give some structure and foundation to street photography – a really good book for someone starting to explore the genre – or for a starting point for a camera club project.
Rob Yarham (editor) ‘Masters of Street Photography’, 175 pages, large format hardback Ammonite Press, 2019. - An outstanding collection of the street photography of 16 photographers – not the ‘usual suspects’ - and everyone of them stand-out talents. The format is most effective. A brief background on each photographer is followed by a Q and A section, a set of 6 or so full page images and then a technical page with thumbnails. As well as the content, this is a very handsome book, printed on high quality paper with beautiful re-produced images.
Stephanie Calabrese Roberts, ‘Lens on Life: Documenting Your World through Photography’, 192 pages, Ilex, 2012 - An interesting and thoughtful introduction to documentary photography which covers a lot of ground including ‘getting into the mind’ of 8 diverse photographers, an interesting ,and practical, section on ‘vision’ including some well-thought-through exercises in ‘looking’; a chapter on planning and on ‘connecting’ with subjects.
Magnum Photos (https://www.magnumphotos.com) formed in the 1947 formed by four photographers – Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David “Chim” Seymour.
Street photography also has a number of ‘collectives’, which aim to promote Street Photography (and their photographers). They are largely non-commercial, with invited members.
UP Photographers (https://upphotographers.com)
Burn my Eye (http://www.burnmyeye.org)