Best Documentary Photography Books

1. Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, Expanded Edition

by Sarah Greenough

First published in France in 1958, then in the United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The Americans changed the course of twentieth-century photography. In 83 photographs, Frank looked beneath the surface of American life to reveal a people plagued by racism, ill-served by their politicians and rendered numb by a rapidly expanding culture of consumption. Yet he also found novel areas of beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life. And it was not…»

2. Witness in Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers

by Ken Light

"Everything in the world must be shown and people around the world must have an idea of what's happening to the other people around the world. I believe this is a function of the vector that the documentary photographer must have, to show one person's existence to another."âÄîSebastião Salgado Illustrated with a compelling image from each photographer, Witness in Our Time traces the recent history of social documentary photography in the words of twenty-two…»

3. Doing Documentary Work

by Robert Coles

Sitting in his study, William Carlos Williams once revealed to Robert Coles what he considered to be his greatest problem in writing a documentary about his patients in New Jersey. "When I'm there, sitting with those folks, listening and talking," he said to Coles, "I'm part of that life, and I'm near it in my head, too.... Back here, sitting near this typewriter--its different. I'm a writer. I'm a doctor living in Rutherford who is describing 'a world…»

4. My brother's keeper: Documentary Photographers and Human Rights

by Alessandra Mauro

Their names are Lewis Hine, Sebastião Salgado, Eugene Smith, Tom Stoddart, and Igor Kostin. They tackled hunger, drought, ecological catastrophes, HIV. They are documentary photographers, authors, and journalists who decided to aim their cameras at a series of unknown stories that had to be revealed, told, understood, and denounced. Our BrothersâÄô keepers gathers twenty protagonists and twenty exemplary stories of documentary photography. Each one is…»

5. American Photography and the American Dream

by James Guimond

James Guimond's powerful study reveals how documentary photographers have expressed or contested the idea of the American Dream throughout the twentieth century. In Guimond's formulation issues like growth, equality, and national identity came under the rubric of the Dream as it has been used to measure how well the nation is living up to its social and political ideals.A pathbreaking book, American Photography and the American Dream examines the most…»

6. Many Voices: Documentary Photography

by Virginia Allyn

Many Voices is a collection of photo essays giving voice to those communities so often and so undeniably passed by. Through the eye of the camera many may see. From the corners to the churches, from Sunday morning 'til Saturday night, from the streets of Harlem and San Francisco to the small towns of Alabama there are stories to be told, many voices to be heard. With exposure these many voices become louder. The voices in these works are the subjects' own…»