Street photography is a widely debated topic. Some critics claim it needs to be candid. Some say documentary. While other people say it should be shot in film only. But, we can all agree that street photography, it is fascinating and that is why we put together this list of the best books on street photography.
When you think of street photography, names such as Martin Parr, Vivian Maier, and Henri Cartier-Bresson may come to mind. Learn from these street photography masters as you check out our list of the best street photography books to add to your collection today.
Table of Contents
- Top Selling Street Photography Books
- 1. A Photographer Found: Vivian Maier
- 2. Bystander: A History of Street Photography: Colin Westerbeck
- 3. How I Take Photographs: Daido Moriyama
- 4. Street Photography Now: Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren
- 5. Street. Life. Photography: Sabine Dr. Schnakenberg
- 6. Magnum Contact Sheets: Kristen Lubben
- 7. The Americans: Robert Frank
- 8. The Minds Eye: Henri Cartier-Bresson
- 9. The Last Resort: Martin Parr
- 10. A Summers Day: Joel Meyerowitz
- 11. Humans of New York: Brandon Stanton
- 12. Hold The Line: Siegfried Hansen
- 13. One, Two, Three, More: Helen Levitt
- 14. Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Street Photography: Eric Kim
- 15. The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs: Alex Webb
- 16. William Eggleston’s Guide: William Eggleston
- 17. Road to Seeing: Dan Winters
- 18. The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand: Geoff Dyer
Top Selling Street Photography Books
1. A Photographer Found: Vivian Maier
Maier was a street photography master who was completely unknown while she was alive. While working as a nanny in Chicago and New York city she captured over 150,000 photographs. Furthermore, her story became one of the most interesting of all street photographers when a collector discovered her images accidentally when she stopped paying for storage space after she died in 2009. The collector’s discovery of her street photography would soon grow into a legal case and documentary film. Lastly, this street photography book was released by curator Marvin Heiferman and is an in-depth look at her photos and life.
2. Bystander: A History of Street Photography: Colin Westerbeck
This is one of the best street photography books on the market. With over 400 pages of work by multiple street photography masters, it is full of color photography and black and white inspiration that will help you discover new joy in street photography. Additionally, there are many photographs from Stieglitz, Arbus, and even Garry Winograd to name a few. Every twenty years, the publisher comes out with a revision to add more names and new-found street photographers to this mammoth book.
3. How I Take Photographs: Daido Moriyama
This colorful and trendy book tops our list of best street photography books as an English translation of his Japanese version made decades ago. Furthermore, Moriyama is known as one of Japan’s best street photographers and his book is complete with an extended interview. His style may not put everyone in awe but the book is small and makes for a great gift for any budding street photographer.
4. Street Photography Now: Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren
Written by Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren, this coffee table book on street photography was first released in 2011. We love this photo book for its mix of greats including Bruce Gilden, Martin Parr, and many more. Additionally, the book also makes for a great photography gift because of its beautiful hardcover and thought-provoking writing. Lastly, there has been plenty of new talent to arrive since it was first published but it is still one of our top picks when it comes to street photography books.
5. Street. Life. Photography: Sabine Dr. Schnakenberg
This street photography book is full of images from Robert Frank, Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, and many more street photographer members from around the world. Originally published in 2018 it is one of the newer books of street photographs. Each of the 200 images offers viewers something different and inspiring. Additionally, this book is technically an exhibition catalog that categorizes seven decades of decisive moments. The camera equipment may have changed over the years but images are a time capsule providing techniques and inspiration for street photographers of all levels.
6. Magnum Contact Sheets: Kristen Lubben
Magnum Contact Sheets is known as the “Bible of Street Photography” because it is one of the most desired books in all of street photography history! The book is mainly a catalog of all the images that Magnum photographers don’t typically share. The book is full of some of the all-time favorite photographers in history including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Cornell Capa, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Philip Jones Griffiths, Josef Koudelka, Trent Parke, and Alex Web. In conclusion, this should on the top of your list when it comes to the favorites in street photographs. You may come up with your own tips and tricks from studying these greats.
7. The Americans: Robert Frank
Complete with commentary and guidance from prolific American writer Jack Kerouac, this book became a sensation in 1950s American society. The photos explore the life of upper and lower class American society and were originally published in 1952. Photographer Robert Frank does an amazing job opening the viewer’s eyes to the vast differences in American social classes and how tough times may have been for much of the lower classes.
8. The Minds Eye: Henri Cartier-Bresson
Next up is French-born Henri Cartier-Bresson is a legend in street photography. This photography book is a combination of writings and photographs by Cartier-Bresson. What make’s the book extra special is it is full of essays written by Cartier-Bresson that are translated into English for the first time. If you love classic street photography then this is the book for you. Once you get through this one, you will want to explore his other great work, “The Decisive Moment” to continue your study of iconic street photography.
9. The Last Resort: Martin Parr
This street photography book is by British photographer Martin Parr and proves that great street photography is all around you. The photography takes place in the 1980s in New Brighton, England, and shows the declining “great” British beachside through the eyes of local working-class families. Street photographer Parr, does a great job of shooting on medium format film and using flash to portray the vacation hot spot. Additionally, it tops our list of color photography books because of its playfulness with saturated colors. Street photography doesn’t have to be in well-known places like New York City, this book proves that it might be just outside your home.
10. A Summers Day: Joel Meyerowitz
Great street photo books are born from photography that puts you in the scene. If you want to feel the emotions and sentiments of a street photographer this may be one of the top books for you. Even more, photographer Meyerowitz captures images of the streets of Massachusetts. Every photograph takes viewers on a summer holiday full of relaxing sun-soaked feelings and life in a daydream. Lastly, some of the photos really share some insight into what it was like to visit his vacation hotspot. This photography will surely inspire you to create emotions in your next shoot.
11. Humans of New York: Brandon Stanton
This paperback photo book is a mass grouping of all the work Stanton had collected while he shot and interviewed people around New York City. Even more, the book is a 300-page collection of street portraits underlined by a quote or life story from the person. It tops other photography books through its use of combining the written word a simple portrait. Many of the stories are touching and above all human. Furthermore, this book proves that the city is full of all types of quirky and relatable souls. If you are looking for your own street photography project this photo book is a good place to begin.
12. Hold The Line: Siegfried Hansen
If you want to inspire your street photography skills consider Hold The Line which is one of the few photo books that almost feels like abstract art. Additionally, Hansen uses drastic colors, textures, and an array of shapes. His work proves to audiences that street photography can be more than just a candid image. His photos evoke the work of painters like Mondrian. The work doesn’t have any explanations to accompany it which may leave you feeling like the images are puzzles meant to be put together by the viewer. Lastly, if you love modern art, Hansen work may be something to inspire you.
13. One, Two, Three, More: Helen Levitt
Next up, among the top-rated in street photography books, Levitt’s work examines the fascinating world of the 1930s and 40s New York City. Levitt focused on the working-class neighborhoods of the city and her black and white photographs bring the gossip and sidewalk action to life. Her work is a capsule to take you back in time to a life that was pure and beautiful. The title says it all. This is a timeless classic among street photography books.
14. Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Mastering Street Photography: Eric Kim
This book is all about the fundamentals of street photography. Eric Kim is known as an expert in the field with over a decade of street photography experience. Even more, his book is insightful and is a fast track into learning what the decisive moment is. The pages are full of expertise and examples. Furthermore, the book covers everything from camera settings, to problem solving, and how to create beautiful photos. You will learn gear, confidence, personal aesthetics, and inspiration. Eric Kim will leave you wanting to purchase more of his books after he teaches you the basics on how to perfect your street photography in this powerful book.
15. The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs: Alex Webb
This is one of our top books of street photography because of the way Alex Webb is able to capture street photos from around the world. Photographer Alex Webb gives a fresh perspective to his work in this book. He was one of the first American photographers to use color and has consistiently created new work since the 1970s. He stands above other street photographers through his use of vibrant color and light. His photography is full of streets and tips to help you make your mark in the street photography genre. This book covers his thirty year career as a street photographer.
16. William Eggleston’s Guide: William Eggleston
William Eggleston’s Guide was the first one-man exhibition of color photographs ever shown at the Musuem of Modern Art in New York City. The book forced people to except that color photography should be a part of the famous art world. The guide contains 48 images that were chosen from the 375 he shot between 1969 and 1971. Full of landscapes, odd moments, cars, and barbecue scenery, the book is sure to get your mind thinking in the way that most street photographers do. This makes for a great coffee table book or discussion piece.
17. Road to Seeing: Dan Winters
Dan Winters is known for his work as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper in California. But when Winters moved to New York City he discovered the world of photographing celebrities. He has won more than one hundred awards for his photography work and is known for his impeccable use of color, light, and depth in his images. This memoir shows us his journey into becoming a photographer and gives great insight to photographers on the steps it takes to become great in any field. He preaches perseverance, awareness, and curiousity.
18. The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand: Geoff Dyer
Garry Winogrand—along with Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander—were among the first famous street photographers. The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand is masterfully selected with around a hundred photographs from the Winogrand archive. Each photograph is paired with an original essay to give you more insight into Winogrand’s work. The viewer is taken on a wild journey into the foundations of street photography. His work is eye-opening and often funny.
These street photography books are a great start to your journey as a photographer in the genre. Whether you have been shooting street photography for many years or are just starting out, there is something for everyone on this list. Take time to examine each photographer’s work so you can develop your style and find inspiration in the streets of your home.