Black in White America, by Leonard Freed

Why?

“This book was one of the very first photo books I ever saw/read. My father had a signed copy sitting front and center on our coffee table. This one book would introduce me to the world of black and white photography, documentary photography, and street photography, and expose me to racial issues of the 1960's America.”
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- Jamel Shabazz, Photographer

Indian Circus Book, by Mary Ellen Mark

Why?

“I love how she used the environment as a backdrop, like a tent. For me, it was really interesting to see that a master like Mary Ellen was inspired by photographers like Diane Arbus. It's interesting to photograph a subculture. I think that's a cool thing to spend an extended period of time shooting one culture and just getting different aspects of it. And the circus is its own thing.”
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- Robert Clark, Photographer

Son, by Christopher Anderson

Why?

“Chris's book is interesting because I think that one of the most important things a photographer can do is to turn the camera on their own world. He can find the intimacy of stuff and his use of color is phenomenal. If you look at Approximate Joy and his Instagram feed, there's just so much interesting work in color. I'd love to be able to do more of that—maybe as I get older and things kind of disappear. I've got a nine year old daughter and I've photographed her extensively, so even though a lot of it's with the cell phone I think that all of it will be historically interesting. If I could change anything about my career, it would be what I love about Chris's work, in that he's able to turn the camera inward.”
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- Robert Clark, Photographer

The Road to Seeing, by Dan Winters

Why?

“Dan talks about composition in his self-portraits and how he also pulls in a lot of historical examples of photography. He talks about other people's work, why it's important, and how it influenced him. I was attracted at first because of the technical ability of it all. It's just like Martin Schoeller or Albert Watson or Richard Avedon. I got sucked in because of trying to understand the technical aspect of it—and then you sidestep the technicalities of it and you see the beauty of it. I think the palette that Dan is obviously known for is a palette that he kind of works in and created for himself.”
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- Robert Clark, Photographer

Somnyama Ngonyama: Hail the Dark Lioness, by Zanele Muholi

Why?

“I just am blown away by the fierceness of her work. Self-portraiture is a classic subject in photography, and she completely came up with something highly original, incredibly fierce, powerful, strong. It has historic references; it has an enormous amount to do with who she is as a person; it's a statement about empowerment. I find these portraits to be riveting.

I look at this book a lot in terms of being inspired by fearlessness. To do something good in art, whether it's photography or any other discipline, you have to shed a lot of inhibition. You have to be fearless. You have to try to embark on some path that you don't know where it's going to take you. I know that sounds like a cliché, but it is that.”
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- Kathy Ryan, Photographer

U.S Camera 1954, by Tom Maloney

Why?

“I came across US Camera 1954 when I was a college student.  The book is significant for me as it was the very first time I saw “Welsh Miners” by Robert Frank. That image was so inspirational that when I was in the Army, stationed near Paris, I asked my Welsh sergeant, where would he send his worst enemy. His reply was “ Cwmcarn, Wales.” I got a three-day pass to travel there but only had a few hours to spend before heading back to headquarters. Even though I took few photographs that day, I needed to just go there and experience it. Robert Frank’s images are lyrical, almost musical. His images weren’t just factual but communicated feeling. The photographs he made during that period inspired me to explore his world and also the world of the miners. To me, his way of seeing was pure poetry.”
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- Bruce Davidson, Photographer

The Concerned Photographer Vol. 2, by Cornell Capa

Why?

“The term “The Concerned Photographer” is about capturing the human condition and the power of photographs to educate and cause change in the world.  As W. Eugene Smith put it, “If my photographs could cause compassionate horror within the viewer, they might also prod the conscience of that viewer into taking action.” Smith was one of my heroes and I felt that the cumulative effect that was implicit in his powerful images inspired action in me.”
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- Bruce Davidson, Photographer

Los Alamos, by William Eggleston

Why?

“‘I had this notion of what I called a democratic way of looking around, that nothing was more or less important,’ William Eggleston once said. I loved these photographs so much as a teenager: it was bright, sunny, casual, and cool. Today, it reminds me of my high school years, and the time I decided to study art history.”
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- Eva Barois De Caevel, Curator

Intérieurs, by François Hers and Sophie Ristelhueber

Why?

“This was her first book. She was originally commissioned to write the text for the book by her future husband and Viva member Francois Hers, but instead she contributed with photographs. Originally commissioned to document social housing in Wallonia, Hers chose to focus on the interiors, and how they were personalized by their inhabitants.”
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- Eva Barois De Caevel, Curator

What Remains to be Seen, by Howardena Pindell

Why?

“It is more an exhibition catalogue, a monograph, than a photography book. But this retrospective volume celebrating five decades of Howardena Pindell's art includes works on paper, collage, photography, film, and video. Pindell is simply a wonderful artist and her work with, and on, photography is simply great.”
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- Eva Barois De Caevel, Curator

La vie en rose, by Malick Sidibé

Why?

“As a kid, it was one of my first encounter with photographs showing African people that were not starving or illustrating advertisements about AIDS. It may seem exaggerated, but growing up in a small town in France, it was just my reality. These photographs filled me with joy, pride, and excitement: a world was to discover. Years after, the feeling of joy, when looking at these pages, is still there. And the title says everything: "La vie en rose”!”
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- Eva Barois De Caevel, Curator

Guess Who, by Peggy Sirota

Why?

“I was always inspired with Peggy’s work. It felt like somebody just happened to be there with the camera—maybe that's how they did it. Some of them are more like setups, but it's still so surreal. Peggy's book also has a lot of sense of humor, great characters, and it's a great portrait book. I've collected portrait books all my life.”
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- Jonas Åkerlund, Director

Sex: Madonna, by Steven Meisel

Why?

“This is literally one of those moments that we’re all gonna remember forever. It's like the moon landing. In Sweden, I lined up outside a bookstore for hours to buy this book, and I bought two. It's the first time I understood the notion of controversial. And of course I was lucky enough to work with Madonna later.”
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- Jonas Åkerlund, Director

Landet Utom Sig, by Lars Tunbjörk

Why?

"With this book, it’s one of my absolute favorites. It really inspired me to do a type of films that I didn't do before. I started to do some really colorful stuff and some really graphic stuff and the camera didn't move much. It really inspired me to add a sense of humor to my stuff that I didn't have before.”
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- Jonas Åkerlund, Director

“Lars's book is a journey through a life. He's drawn to moments of bright, vivid, almost childlike color. That gave a kind of joyfulness to his pictures that were often a kind of societal critique. He had a deep appreciation for the kookiness of people. His pictures tapped into the absurdity of everyday life and the situations we find ourselves in. He's basically laughing with them, never at them. I feel like there was a gentleness to his work that always lent a kind of, ‘Hey, we're in this together.’”
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- Kathy Ryan, Photographer