Collectors are willing to pay steep prices for the world's finest photography books. Rare editions from the likes of Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn and Ansel Adams are among the most sought-after of all art books. Sometimes these books have captured an era or a location, sometimes they have helped to coin an artistic trend, sometimes they are simply the finest work of a particular photographer. Whether geography, portrait, abstract or other, these are the books that draw the eye time and time again, and showcase the finest art to ever come from a camera.
Enjoy our list of the top 10 most collectible photography books of all time (plus there are five more wonderful books that failed to make the top 10).
Part travelogue, part art, I Want to Take Picture follows Burke as he explores South East Asia and the Khmer Rouge. The project dealt a fatal blow to the preconceived notion that documentary photography was a vehicle for absolute truth.
Frank's best-known work - a remarkable insight into 1950s US culture. Initially criticized as an assault on America, the book is now celebrated as an influential work of 20th-century photography, juxtaposing 50s optimism with poverty and race issues.
Brassaï was the pseudonym of Gyula Halász - a Hungarian photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker best known in France. While working as a journalist, he took countless photos of Paris after dark - Paris de Nuit was his first published book of photographs.
Cartier-Bresson published Images à la sauvette (The Decisive Moment) in 1952.The book's memorable cover was drawn by Henri Matisse, who died in 1954. A lengthy essay prefaces the book with Cartier-Bresson's thoughts on why everything has a decisive moment.
Legendary fashion photographer Irving Penn published this in 1960 with a print run of 20,000 (over French, Italian, German and English editions). Penn spent his early career with Vogue magazine, and Moments Preserved is an overview of these first years.
Adams' first book of photographs, Sierra Nevada was commissioned by a Sierra Club president as a tribute to his son who died in a climbing accident. Adams' striking images set a new standard for photo books and provided him a launching pad for his stellar career.
Mandel and Sultan compiled thousands of photos used as objective instruments (ie evidence) in a single volume, removing all explanation. The book revealed the multiple meanings an image could take on when devoid of original context.
Agee and Evans visited rural Alabama in 1936 to document the sharecroppers' plight for a magazine, but it ballooned into a documentary. Evans' stark photos and Agee's moving text made this a defining essay on tenant farmers in the dustbowl.
Stunning photographs capturing the natural beauty of the last unsettled continent on Earth, featuring panoramic snow fields and majestic emperor penguins. The book weighs in at 27 pounds, was limited to 950 copies, and was part of an effort to prevent the extinction of the albatross.
Greatest Of All Time is the pinnacle of collectible sports books with 3,000 images about Muhammad Ali. Taschen published it in 2004 with a print run of 9,000, all of which were signed by Koons and Ali. This monster weighs over 75 pounds – a true heavyweight of photography books.
The biggest and most expensive book production of the 20th century, Sumo had a limited global print run of 10,000 copies, signed and numbered by Newton. Measuring 20 x 27.5 inches (50 x 70 cm), it contains over 400 photos, including many of his renowned nudes and celebrity shots.
This compilation contains continuous photographs of a two-and-a-half mile stretch, of the 22-mile boulevard that is Sunset Strip. It is presented as an accordion-fold page with the north side of the street on the top of the page and the south street inverted on the bottom.
Self-published in 1967, Ruscha continues to transform the mundane and this time takes aerial views of (mostly) empty parking lots around the city of Los Angeles including those of the Hollywood Bowl and Dodger Stadium.
Sugimoto captures views of the interiors of movie theaters by taking images from the projection room and setting exposures to the duration of the films. The projector provides the sole lighting and the seats and building details are the only subjects, so the photographs have a very surreal feel.