Transcending eras, photography books perfectly encapsulate certain themes or moments. They express the spontaneous and the posed, the raw reality and the power of editing. Evoking a spectrum of emotions, these journals represent technology, sociology, and who and what defines the times.
Beginning in the 5th century, philosophers and inventors worked on creating a camera obscura, a device that could reproduce a pinhole image. Various incarnations developed, and by the 17th century, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce had developed a film process that did not fade as quickly as previous methods. Working with Louis Daguerre, they then produced daguerreotypes, images resulting from copper plates. Succeeding process methods, such as emulsion plates, ambrotypes, tintypes, and dry gelatine plates, each became quicker and cheaper than the other, which increased the demand for this new kind of artistry. It's stunning to look through vintage photography books and see just how far the Kodak productions from the late 1800s compare to mid-20th-century instant Polaroids.
The old saying 'a picture's worth a thousand words' is evident throughout endless collectible photography books that show the world in multifaceted ways. Ansel Adams magnifies beauty and wonder in landscape shots, while Lucien Hervé emphasizes the fine details within French architecture. Andy Warhol, Annie Leibovitz, and Helmut Newton present different takes on glamour and celebrity status. There's much we can enjoy in Dorothea Lange's stark depictions of the farmlands, Man Ray's sophisticated avant-garde impressions, and Henri Cartier-Bresson's slices of street life. Furthermore, it's hard not to react to photography non-fiction books that showcase Anne Geddes' imaginative baby portraits, Andy Rouse's wildlife close-ups, and Richard Avedon's juxtaposed portraits of people from all walks of life.
Whether you're looking to buy photography books that explore landmarks such as Central Park: A Photographic Excursion, or cultural preservation like Eric Klemm: Silent Warriors: Portraits of North American Indians, there's an extensive list of topics at AbeBooks. Check out the historical and contemporary volumes and add these to your art book collection.