How do I find inspiration? This is a complicated question that most creative people face from time to time. Books on photography are undoubtedly some of the best sources for both inspiration and ideas. And you do not have to be a photographer to find them valuable. They should probably be in every creative’s toolkit.

It’s great to be familiar with the classics, but it’s also helpful to keep an eye on what’s coming out today. To save your time and energy, we’ve come up with a list of the best photo books of 2021. Keep on reading to discover them, get inspired, and create something unique.

 

1. Joel Meyerowitz: Wild Flowers

This is an updated edition by one of the greatest masters of street photography. It initially came out in 1983, but the newer version includes previously unpublished photographs. Meyerowitz has been observing and capturing city life for almost 50 years. The idea behind this particular book was to share the natural beauty of cities.

Woman in a floral headpiece

Cover source: Milled

2. Richard Misrach: on Landscape and Meaning

Misrach is a photographer who is well-known for his large-format landscapes. In his work, he focuses on exploring the relationship between people and the environments they exist in. This book is part of The Photography Workshop Series. It includes not only photographs, but also some of Misrach’s thoughts. For him, it’s crucial to create beautiful visuals that also contain cultural significance.

Landscape

Cover source: Aperture

3. Masao Yamamoto: Small Things in Silence

This is a book on photography that explores our day-to-day reality. Yamamoto prefers subjects that ordinary people often overlook, and finds sublime beauty in them. He does not shy away from the ephemeral context of time and captures simple objects, such as rocks and birds. His collection of photographs is serene. This is a photography book that will help you relax, despite all the hustle and bustle surrounding us.

Black and white photography book

Cover source: Artbook

4. Jamie Hawkesworth: The British Isles

Hawkesworth spent the past thirteen years traveling around the United Kingdom with his equipment. This book includes spectacular landscapes and touching portraits. Hawkesworth commemorates people and places through his work. His photos include shopworkers, priests, schoolchildren, as well as construction sites and estates. He dignifies the world through his lens and shows it to everyone else. Going on a journey with him via this photo book can be a great exercise.

Landscape and seaside

Cover source: Mack Books

5. Erik Madigan Heck: The Garden

The cover alone makes it one of the most stunning books on photography, but there’s so much more to explore inside. Heck claims that he loves creating art with his family the most, so it’s not surprising that they play a leading role in this collection. It contains oversaturated images that resemble actual paintings featuring Heck’s wife and two sons. Most of them were taken at the family’s home in New England. As the number of grey days increases, Heck’s work becomes an even more important reminder of how bright and colorful our life can be.

Blurry floral background

Cover source: Artbook

6. Wolfgang Tillmans: Saturated Light (Silver Works)

Tillmans has been working with abstract photography and pushing boundaries for the past 30 years. This time around, he’s taking his experiments to the next level by selecting a series of images that could be considered failures. Tillmans explains that they are “stained, impure, bright, [and] unstable”. And he is more than fine with that. He celebrates these imperfections, so we suspect that this photography book might be perfect for creatives struggling from imposter syndrome.

White book cover

Cover source: shashasha 

7. 99 Photographs

If you are not ready to invest in one of those photography books that focus on one artist, this one might be the perfect solution for you. The Swiss Photo Foundation has been working on an incredible archive of masterpieces for the past 50 years. This book includes some of the most notable works that they own. Some of them were created by well-known photographers, while others belong to unknown artists.

Two girls

Cover source: Artbook

8. Roger A. Deakins: Byways

Deakins is a phenomenal cinematographer who has been nominated for the Academy Award fifteen times. Throughout his long-lasting film career, he has collaborated with Sam Mendes and the Coen brothers, among other talented directors. This photography book is the first monograph to include black-and-white photos taken by him over the past fifty years. It consists of three different chapters and includes landscapes and portraits.

Hands in black and white

Cover source: Artbook

9. Ruth Orkin: A Photo Spirit

Even though Orkin would have been one hundred years old if she were alive now, her career and archive remain both relevant and highly inspiring. She has seen the world and captured some of the most spectacular cities, such as London, Florence, and New York. And the list of people she has photographed includes Marlon Brando, Lauren Bacall, Tennessee Williams, and even Albert Einstein. Can you believe it? Fascinating! This is definitely one of those photography books that every photography enthusiast should own.

Old sports car

Cover source: Artbook

10. Annie Leibovitz: Wonderland

Last, but not least, one of the most desired books on photography by the legendary Annie Leibovitz. She has been shooting the biggest celebrities, and collaborating with Vogue and Vanity Fair for decades. However, this is her first fashion book and the only one on our list. It consists of 350 images featuring models Kate Moss and Natalia Vodianova, singers Rihanna and Lady Gaga, actresses Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett, and more. Many of these photos have never been published before, so we cannot wait to get our hands on this gem and see them for the first time.

Woman in a yellow coat

Cover source: Phaidon

Wrapping it up

If inspiration is vital for you personally or professionally, surround yourself with the best photography books. As soon as you get one, you can always rely on it whenever you feel low or uninspired. It’s even better to avoid these states by creating a routine that includes looking at beautiful photographs regularly.

And if you are wondering where to buy photography portfolio books, we recommend planning a trip to your local independent bookstore and diving deep into their selection. What if you find one of the books from our list, or something unexpected, but worthy?

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