There are numerous books and catalogues on photography. The following is a selected list of recommended titles together with a brief synopsis. Portrait Photography is particularly well served by an extensive choice of monographs. The following are books recommended books
J. Tagg,The Burden of Representation, (Macmillan, London, 1992)
R. Barthes, Camera Lucida (Fontana, London, 1984)
Roland Barthe's final book is less of a critical essay and more of a mixture of mediations on photography and life. Examining the themes of presence and absence, the relationship between photography and theatre, history and death, these 'reflections on photography' raise questions and doubts that have lasting reverberations. It is the most accessible of Barthe's writings in its language and also the most revealing about the author himself.
B. Newhall, The History of Photography(Secker and Warburg, London, 1982)
Since its first publication in 1937, this lucid and scholarly chronicle on the history of photography has been hailed as a classic work on the subject. The 1982 edition contains more than 300 works by master photographers and presents a fascinating examination of the significant trends and developments in the medium since the first photographs were made. To contemporary eyes it may seem a little flawed, but it is still an important overall history.
L. Heron and V. Williams, Illuminations(I.B.Tauris, London, 1996)
This book presents an ample selection of women's writings on photography. The first anthology of its kind, it proposes a new and different history, demonstrating the way in which woman's perspectives have advanced photographic criticism over 150 years and, with the advent of feminist approaches, increasingly challenging its orthodoxy's. It contains a rich variety of work of historians and critics, biographers and teachers, journalists and practitioners; and the topics they address reflect the multiple nature of photography itself.
S. Sontag, On Photography(Penguin Books, London, 1978)
In this book, Susan Sontag examines a wide range of problems, both aesthetic and moral, raised by the presence and authority of the photographic image in the lives of everyone in the everyday. First published in 1973 it was heralded as the most original and important work yet written on photography. Today it may seem dated, but remains a key work in the field.
G. Clark, The Photograph (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997)
How do we read a photograph? Graham Clarke gives a clear and incisive account of the photograph's historical development from Joseph Nicéphore Niépce's early `heliograph' to the classic compositions of Cartier-Bresson and Alfred Steiglitz, to the striking post-modern strategies of Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and Victor Burgin. This book covers a wide range of subject areas - landscape, the city, portraiture, the body, and reportage - with detailed analysis of exemplary images in terms of their cultural and ideological contexts. A recent title on Photography published in the Oxford History of Art series. Generously illustrated, clearly written and underpinned by such functional aids as a time line and glossary of terms. Opening chapters introduce a critical framework as a basis for the subsequent readings of photography within various genres; landscape, the city, the body, documentary, fine art, the manipulated image and of course the portrait. Excellent value and highly recommended.
G. Mora, Photo Speak, (Abbeville, New York, 1998)
An indispensable, quick reference guide to the ideas, movements, and techniques of photography throughout its history and up the present day. The what's what, who's who and what happened when of photography. A useful stepping stone to more in-depth study.
G. Clark (ed), The Portrait in Photography(Reaktion Books, London, 1992)
Through a series of essays the book discusses the photographic portrait in a wide context, from general subjects such as the family photograph album and American portrait photography to the work of individual photographers like Sander and Stieglitz. It also explores the relationship between the portraitist and the sitter, including D.H. Lawrence, Baudelaire and Balzac. Ranging from the earliest photography to contemporary work the book offers a variety of critical approaches and includes discussions of theories on photography held by writers such as Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag and Victor Burgin.
R. Brilliant, Portraiture(Reaktion Books, London, 1991)
One of the few books specifically dedicated to portraiture. It draws on a wide range of images that include painting, sculpture, prints, postage stamps, medals, documents and photographs. It ranges from the most common place to the highest artforms. Presented through thematic and cogent analysis, connections between the subject and the object are made and examinations of the response to the sitter and the person it represents. It thoroughly and thoughtfully questions the transactions between the subject, the artist and the beholder.
Monographs / Catalogues Individual photographers
S.Kismaric, American Politicians: Photographs from 1843 to 1993, (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994)
The catalogue to a fascinating exhibition charting the inter-dependant relationship between politics and photography. Works range from the stiff formality of the Daguerreotype studio through to the pre-packaged 'photo-opportunity ' on the campaign trail.
Richard Avedon : Evidence 1944- 1994 (Jonathan Cape, London 1994)
Published to coincide with the exhibition of the same title first seen at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and subsequently toured to the NPG. Avedon's career spans the entire post war period and embraces both fashion and portraiture. In addition to two critical essays the book provides a richly illustrated and chronologically organised record of Avedon's life and work including all the images from the exhibition, illustrations of the books, exhibitions and magazine spreads in which the photographs first appeared and documentation of the photographer at work.
Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975-1995 (exh. cat. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1995)
Dawoud Bey writes that, 'My use of colour has to do with wanting to make an unabashedly lush and romantic rendering of people who seldom receive that kind of attention.' This catalogue reproduces his monumental portrait series of American people of colour made with the 20-by-24-inch Polaroid camera. Three essays of critical writing and an interview with the photographer.
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Tète à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson, (Thames and Hudson, London, 1998)
The master of the hand held 35mm camera, one of the world's most widely admired photographers and the co-founder of Magnum Photographic Agency. This is the most recent and definitive book of Cartier-Bresson's portrait work spanning a sixty year career and including his distinctive portraits of some of the most significant cultural figures of the Twentieth Century. Introduced by the distinguised art historian E.M.Gombrich.
M. Rogers, Camera Portraits(National Portrait Gallery, London, 1989)
Camera portraits contains a selection of 150 historic photographs from the National Portrait Gallery's collection. The selection was made to mark the 150th anniversary of the invention of photography and provides a fascinating survey of British history and culture from the time of Queen Victoria to the present day. It also illustrates the development of photography from the daguerreo-type to the latest experimental colour techniques.
R.Muir, John Deakin / Photographs, (exh. cat.,National Portrait Gallery, Schirmer / Mosel, London, 1996)
T. Pepper,High Society Photographs 1897-1914 (National Portrait Gallery, 1998)This beautifully illustrated book explores the extravagant and eccentric world of Edwardian high society as it was recorded by the most celebrated photographers of the period. Beginning with the extraordinary images of costumed guests at the famous Devonshire House fancy-dress ball, it includes country-house groups and private theatricals; race meetings and shooting parties; the great beauties of the day and the pioneers of the motor-car. The detailed biographies on the photographers is an asset.
The John Kobal Photography Award 1998, (Zelda Cheatle, London, 1998)
The Photography Book (Phaidon, London, 1997)
The Photography Book brings together 500 images of famous events and people, landscapes, historic moments, sport, wildlife and fashion. Each photograph is discussed in a little detail, giving some background to the image or the photographer. A simple system of cross-referencing enables easy access to photographers working with similar approaches or using different means to capture the same subject. The choice of photographers and images tends to be bias toward photojournalism. Glossaries of technical terms are also clear and not over technical and there is a useful international directory of museums and galleries where photography is regularly on display.
S.S. Philips, Police Pictures: The photograph as Evidence (exh. cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1997)
The bleak and chilling evidence of photography in the hands of the detective. The camera goes in search of the supposed truth of the criminal type and is pointed towards the scene of crime; surveying, gathering and examining information. This book accompanists an exhibition mounted in San Francisco that draws heavily on archives of nineteenth century photography and offers a cruel counterpoint to the kindness of celebrity portraiture.
A. Woodhouse, Angus McBean (Quartet Books, 1982)
The undisputed master of theatrical portraiture operating in the golden age of West End Theatre, either side of World War II, when the likes of Olivier, Leigh, Geilgud and Burton trod the boards. McBean built and constructed his own sets, added his own lighting and concocted his own fantasies as stages as for the stars of the day. A particular highlight were his 'surrealised' portraits in which sitters were buried in sand, encased in plaster or balanced on shells. Every possible trick was employed to create these beautiful illusions. A forward by Snowdon introduces this volume of 119 full page illustrations from across the breadth of McBean's career.
M. Haworth-Booth, Photography: An Independent Art(Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1997)
The book offers the first comprehensive account of the Victoria and Albert Museum's extensive and impressive collection of photographs, one of the oldest and finest in the world. In the process it provides the reader with a general history of photography from its beginnings as a scientific curiosity, through its international commercialisation, to its coming of age as an art form in its own right. In addition, the book tells the story of how the medium of photography was embraced by the V&A, and helped to show that photography was an art form worth collecting.
M.Haworth-Booth, Camille Silvy: River Scene, France (Getty Museum studies on art, Malibu, 1992)
Gillian Wearing, Signs that say what you want to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say 1992-93 (Interim Art, London, 1997)
Weegee's New York (Schirmer Art Books, London 1996)
R. Gibson and P. Roberts, Madame Yevonde (exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery, London, 1990)
A keen supporter of the cause of women photographers, Yevonde is now best remembered for her series of pictures, taken in the Thirties of society women dressed as Greek and Roman goddesses. Besides a full showing of the goddesses series, the book features a broad range of her work, much of it newly reprinted from her original negatives. Although not terribly analytical it does give a good background to the portrait photographer and her life.