on September 23, 1998
This is the most complete, comprehensive, and fun photography book I've ever seen. It covers 150 years, the entire history of the medium, in an appealing and easy-to-use format. A great reference guide and educational as well. I especially like the cross-referencing system. 500 photos. from A to Z.
The Photo Book might well be considered as much a work of art as the photographs represented within its bounds. This collection was given to me as a gift and has been so cherished as a pictoral index of inspirational and thought provoking works. Each page includes a short bio of the selected photographer and a sample of his or her work. Navigation through the book is easy as the photographers are categorized alphabetically.
Even more helpful is the additional information found in the back of the book. There are three appendices that help to explain this art form, its brief history, and how you can take part in enjoying it further. The first section is a glossary of techniques and terms - helpful for anyone who isn't skilled or knowledgeable of the art. The next section includes movements, groups, and genres of this form of art. This is a great help in understanding the context and influences of past photographers in relation to their work. The last section is an index of museums around the world including their addresses and phone numbers.
The aesthetics of the book are wonderful. Featured are over 500 photographers ranging over the span of the art of photography. The photographs represented are very clear and vibrant (where there is color), inviting the viewer to see, enjoy, and think critically about what is before them. The alphabetical organization allows for a quick read as well, enabling you to pick up at any given place in the book to enjoy a snippet of photography.
This book works excellently as a gift for a budding photographer, a coffee table piece, or a reference for those interested in influential and historic photography and photographers. It is a steal at what you can purchase it for - I doubt that you will find such a great assortment of so well established artists and their work for less than this. It's compact, but it's heavy too. For price, content, and availability, I gave this product 5 stars!
Before considering this book, let me note that like many photography books this one contains a fair number of nude images of men and women that will offend some. If bare flesh is not something you want to see in your books, avoid this one.
Grading this book was difficult. The photographs were well chosen to be interesting and rewarding, were reproduced faithfully, and worked well as images on facing pages. The page sizes are generous to allow more room for reproduction. Many of them are photographs that almost anyone would want to have. Almost anyone would agree that the photographs and design of the book deserve five stars.
The accompanying texts, however, were not up to the standard of the photographs in most cases. I graded these texts on average at three stars. Averaging the two scores was how I arrived at four stars.
The book's concept is to take 500 of the best photographers ever, and show one image of each in alphabetical order. Although this sounds strange, it actually works quite well. Most of the images are in black and white, but some are in color. As a result, you get a full dimensionalizing of what photography can do and mean to the photographer and viewer.
Among the famous scenes in the book are Eddie Adams' Street Execution of a Vietcong Prisoner (1968), Neil Armstrong's Buzz Aldrin on the Moon (1969), Matthew Brady's General William Tecumseh Sherman (1865), Robert Capa's Death of a Loyalist Soldier (1936), Harold Edgerton's Milk Drop Coronet (1957), Alfred Eisenstaedt's V-J Day in Times Square (1945), Robert Jackson's The Murder of Lee Harvey Oswald (1963), Yousuf Karsh's Winston Churchill (1941), Joe Rosenthal's Iwo Jima (1945), Sam Shere's The Hindenburg Disaster (1937), and Nick Ut's Children Fleeing an American Napalm Strike (1972). If you are like me, these images brought me back to what I felt when I first saw these events or these photographs. It was a moving experience in each case. It is almost like looking at an album of your own life, once removed.
I was also moved by the many images of human pathos that I had seen less often or not at all before. Especially noteworthy to me are Abbas' South African Miners (1978), Lucien Aigner's Benito Mussolini (1935), G.C. Beresford's Leslie Stephen and his Daughter Virginia (Woolf) (1902), Margot Burke-White's Mahatma Gandhi (1946), Charles Hoff's Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano (1954), Frank Hurley's The Endurance by Night (1915), Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother (1936), and Arnold Newman's Georgia O'Keeffe (1968).
Beauty was very much present, but almost always restrained in a variety of ways. That restraint created a tension that heightened the awareness of beauty. I particularly was affected by James Abbe's Bessie Love (1928), Eve Arnold's Marilyn Monroe (1960), Richard Avedon's Dovinna and Elephants (1955), Ian Bradshaw's Streaker (1975), Robert Mapplethorpe's Derrick Cross (1983), Man Ray's Tears (1930), Lennart Nilsson's A Human Foetus at Three Months (1973), Vittorio Sella's On the Glacier Blanc (c. 1880s), Frederick Sommer's Livia (1948), Jerry Uelsmann's Floating Tree (1969), and Edward Weston's Nude on Sand (1936).
How can you further benefit from enjoying these images? I suggest that you dig out your old camera (or consider getting a new digital one), and find scenes that evoke the emotions and memories you most want. Take a few lessons from the ways the masters captured their scenes, and see what you can do. Like the student patiently painting a copy of a famous painting in a museum, you can create your own images to illuminate your life for now, for the future, and for future generations.
Turn it all into a snap!
on November 17, 2006
First of all, it is a great book! I read it from libary and seached from Amazon afterward.
however, the under $10 paper back edition is not the kind I have read in the library. It's a mini edition of the same content. and it makes the letters too small to read comfortably. The pictures in the mini book are fairly ok, but not as good as the hard back edition's.
i strongly recommand the hard back edition book but not the paper back. it worths $30+.
on November 28, 2000
I've had this book since 1997 and I still refer to it for ideas. It has such a unique and diverse pictorial on each page by 'grand' and 'credible' photographers. For anyone who takes pictures...likes pictures...this BOOK is a MUST GET for you. I have it on my coffee table and I get rave comments on it all of the time about what a GREAT book it is.
on January 23, 1998
An extremely comprehensive guide to photographers and their representative work. The book has a welcome emphasis on documentary, journalistic and artistic photographers. For each photographer, a cross-reference list is offered suggesting other artists with similar styles or subjects. Well-researched and edited. Convincingly enough, all of my favorite photogaphers are represented in this one volume. Buy it if you have any interest in photography---one of the most reasonably priced hard-bound full-color photography books I have ever seen.
on May 24, 2002
This is the book that I hand my photography students when they just want to "look and be inspired". It offers a wonderful assortment of artists from Niepce to Arbus. The photos are beautifully reproduced and the book is just a joy to look at. It should be on everyone's shelf or coffeetable. Buy 2 - the first one will eventually wear out from use!
This little book contains entries for 500 photographs from around the world (heavily weighted toward the European, esp. the UK) and throughout the 150 year history of the medium; arranged alphabetically by photographer, each gets one page that contains one photo and a couple paragraphs of text, with information about the the artist and the historical context of the picture.
While famous events and people are depicted, most of these photographs are not famous, but depict historic moments, beautiful landscapes, sports, wildlife, fashion or extraordinary places. The entries are brief, but the selection is wide in terms of geography, history and style, and one will find much pleasure in leafing through the pages of this delightful little book.
Also included is a glossary of photographic terms and an international directory of museums and galleries which display photographs. No good index, but a delight nonetheless.
on November 17, 2000
First of all, read Donald W. Mitchell's review of the book. It contains a lot of information on the book itself. I strongly agree with his comments on the text which does little more than tell you what school the photographer belongs to and, rather often, how they died violently. Not at all informative, rarely relevant to the actual photograph and much more suitable to a book about photographERS than photographs. Pity.
My main quibble was in the selection of the photographs themselves. For reportage and especially war photos the overage is excellent. There is also a good selection of montage images. I found the portrait selection to be OK. I'd have been more happy to have seen fewer pictures from the FSA (Farm Security Administration ), which, although uniformly good, seemed to crowd out other sources. I suspect Ian Jeffrey got a good deal on this set of photos.
I was surprised to see very little 'fine art' photography, especially still life. It seemd that the editor felt that pictures ought to make a statement, and that therefore a picture of a typical person or a strange juxtaposition is superior to a simple, beautiful work. Even the picture of Marilyn Monroe is an odd one; technically only average, revealing little about her, the text invites us to consider the meaning of the chair beside her. I would have liked to have seen more photographs that are there because they look beautiful.
I also, frankly, got very tired of seeing pictures of railway bridges and miscellaneous uninteresting shots from the 1800's. Yes, these were important. Yes, they give an indication of the technology of the day, but do we really need to see so many sepia photographs that do not inspire? Again, I had a sneaking suspicion that maybe they had been chosen because their copyright had run out ..
So, the text is pretty much a waste of time and I wasn't keen on the selection criteria. Why do I give the book three stars? Becasue I have to agree with Donald Mitchell. Many of the photos are very significant, the production quality of the book is great and, with 400 photographs, it's hard not to find something you like every four or five pages.
on November 28, 2012
Very well done book. It follows the same format as the much-loved "The Art Book", in which the art is displayed alphabetically, by the artist's last name. This book also has the photographs listed by the photographer's last name, alphabetically. The only reason I gave it a 4-star grade is that I wanted people to really think about whether this is an appropriate book for their particular household. It has several very "in-your-face" photos. For example, right away on page 10 is the famous photo of a Viet Cong prisoner having his brains blown out. And there is a lot of nudity. I am not prudish, but the photos of people who had just been assassinated were difficult to see. Once you have turned the page, you can't "un-see" it. However, it is an excellent book, a real landmark of the most famous photos ever done from all over the world.