Awesome photographer books for a photographer
January 5, 2013 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Photographers and photography buffs! Please help me find a really cool photography book (or photography-related gift) for my photographer boyfriend.

So my boyfriend's birthday is coming up. He's a photographer and I'd like to get him a really, really awesome photography book but I know NOTHING about photography. I don't even know who his favorite photographer is.

I'd like to stay away from getting him another equipment related since I don't know what he has and since I know so little about photography, but feel free to recommend anything you feel might be super awesome.

My budget is around $100.

He mainly photographs nature and inanimate objects. For example one his projects focused on photographing branches of trees that have become intertwined with metal fencing. He's currently working on a project where he goes out into a local area along a river where many homeless people live and has been photographing the foliage/objects he finds/camps people leave behind, etc.
He also recently bought a book where the photographer photographed ordinary looking places and then provided a paragraph explaining that something terrible had happened there (school shootings, murders, etc.). I have no idea who the photographer was.

I know he's not that into portraits.

So based on these things, are there any books that you would recommend? Or are there any photography books (within that price range) that are just awesome to have for any photographer in general?

I'm also willing to provide a link to his portfolio site, but I didn't want to do it here just in case it turned up on google.
posted by ad4pt to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Some cheap options: (if he's into reading about photography) check his bookshelves for a copy of Camera Lucida and (if he's into classic, somewhat avant-garde film) rent Blow Up online and watch it with him.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:22 PM on January 5, 2013

Best answer: The photo book he recently bought might have been On This Site by Joel Sternfeld. One of Sternfeld's most acclaimed books is American Prospects, which was out of print for a while but somewhat recently reissued. If your boyfriend likes shooting landscape scenes that combine nature with buildings and other manmade objects, he might like that.
posted by lisa g at 1:34 PM on January 5, 2013

Your description of his work, especially of tree branches, suggests Lee Friedlander:

Sticks and Stones
The Desert Seen

More recently, Radius Books put out a retrospective of work in New Mexico from 1995 on, but like many of his great books it's out of print. Still, it's probably the most available of quality printings of his out of print books and seems to be available from third party sellers.
posted by Lorin at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi! I have a BFA in mail a link to his website, and I'll send some suggestions! :-)
posted by jrobin276 at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2013

Whatever else you do, you get him Geoff Dyer's book The Ongoing Moment.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2013

Maybe a book by Andy Goldsworthy? He creates amazing natural art and photographs it, as the art itself is only temporary.

Also, based on him taking photos of what is left behind, maybe The Ruins of Detroit? It is photos of buildings (some once quite grand buildings), abandoned as the population of the city dwindled.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:42 PM on January 5, 2013

Sorry, didn't check the price on Ruins of Detroit. But there are some other similar books on the page that are more within budget!
posted by AnnaRat at 2:53 PM on January 5, 2013

Best answer: It's not a book suggestion, and I think it's really cheesy, but most photographers I know have been inexplicably thrilled to own a camera lens mug(especially one that corresponds to their equipment brand of choice).
posted by sawdustbear at 3:00 PM on January 5, 2013

Lacan at the Scene is a psychoanalytic look at crime scene photography. It's better than it sounds.

Extraordinary Chickens is an awesome book of extraordinary chickens.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:38 PM on January 5, 2013

Best answer: He also recently bought a book where the photographer photographed ordinary looking places and then provided a paragraph explaining that something terrible had happened there (school shootings, murders, etc.). I have no idea who the photographer was.

This reminded me of Sophie Calle 's project Last Seen. Her work is very conceptual and might interest your boyfriend if he doesn't already know about her. Here is a photo book that includes her project "Blind".

In a completely different vein, Andreas Gurskey takes visually stunning "architectural" type photographs. Here is a reasonably priced book of his work.

And, in yet another artistic direction - William Eggleston is the person who is said to have "legitimized" color photography as art, and whose subject matter is "ordinary" or mundane, but always visually interesting. Here's a book of his classic stuff. Here's his newest work, from 2009 called "Paris", which I think is fantastic. I see his work is mentioned in the above recommended book "The Ongoing Moment" by Geoff Dyer, which looks like an interesting read!

For what it's worth I have my BFA in Photography and probably have a similar aesthetic interest as your boyfriend, but at the same time buying photo books is hard unless you can get a good look at what kind of photo books he already has and likes. Personally, I would love one of those photo lens mugs linked above...I might even just get myself one, they look so fun!
posted by smartypantz at 2:06 AM on January 6, 2013

Best answer: I'm a photographer and am interested in the same kinds of subject matter as your boyfriend. One book I've read recently that I'd highly recommend is Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography by Errol Morris. Morris really digs into the histories of several well-known photographs (from famous Civil War photographs to the Abu Graib ones), pushing the limits of what can be deduced from a single image while exploring the nature of documentary. It's fascinating stuff.
posted by oulipian at 8:39 AM on January 6, 2013

In Gregory Crewdson's book Sanctuary he photographs old Italian film sets which have been falling apart since Fellini and Rosselini used them.

Chris Buck, a portrait photographer who often shoots celebrities, recently published a book (Presence) of celebrity portraits where the subject was nearby but out of the shot. It's an interesting way to think about the people and how the setting might relate to their character.
posted by rrrico at 8:19 PM on January 6, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! These are all really, really great suggestions. I think I'm going to go with Joel Sternfeld's American Prospects.
posted by ad4pt at 11:34 AM on January 8, 2013

Response by poster: Oh and one of those camera mugs too.
posted by ad4pt at 11:39 AM on January 8, 2013

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