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 Decisive Moment, by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Why?

The Decisive Moment is about rhythm, about being in sync. It’s also about an element of discipline. Many years ago, I was in Paris and had an audience with Henri at the Magnum offices. I was there to show him my pictures of the Widow of Montmartre. He looked over my contact sheets, pointed to the pictures that moved him and then said, “I must leave now but take a walk with me.“ As we walked the streets together, it was as if his images materialized right in front of me. I finally understood that a truly great image could have passion, purpose, and power.”
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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