A few more recent books I think are tasty:
Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man by Andrea G. Stillman (here's the U.K. link) might fall as much into the category of "guilty pleasures" as "must haves." It takes an enthusiastic and involved look at Adams by telling the story of twenty of his photographs, including many of his most famous ones. Copiously illustrated with ephemera, it gives a window into Adams's processes and working methods as well as his everyday life, making him seem more like a real working photographer—and a real person—and less the avuncular dynamo of legend. And a nicely made book, too. (No accident—the author is an accomplished writer and editor and the venerable [founded 1837] Little, Brown is the official publisher of Adamsiana as designated by the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.)
Andrea Stillman met Ansel when she worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. After working together for two years on a major show there, he asked her to come to Carmel to be his assistant in the spring of 1974. As his administrative assistant rather than his darkroom assistant, she did everything from taking print orders to editing his prose for the following six years. She has continued to contribute to his legacy since his death in 1984, editing books, helping with shows, and narrating a TV program.
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The Changing Face of Portrait Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital by Shannon Thomas Perich is another yummy treat. It dives deep into the fathomless sea of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's Photographic History Collection. There are obviously treasures there, and this book brings many out into the sunlight.
Rather than looking at individual photographs as a jumping off point, here we get to look at a succession of photographers. Happily, it's not just the "same old names" that (well, for old dawgs like me) are trotted out a bit too often. Yes, we get some heavies—Julia Margaret Cameron, Dorothea, and Avedon (a quirky look at the latter, and I like that too). But the book opens with George K. Warren (who?), and includes Henry Horenstein and Lauren Greenfield. Author Shannon Perich, an Associate Curator of the Collection, is showing some gumption, and I like that. This is not just a same-old-same-old type of book.
She also has a marvelous eye for what to show us. This is a guided tour of rare treats, beautifully and appropriately presented. You won't like all the photographers equally—remembering that most of us will differ in which we like better or worse—but all are interesting, and the sweep across time is a nice sampling.
There's also a valuable section on Nicholas Murray, a photographer whose name comes up far too infrequently these days.
Here's the U.K. link.
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Neither of these books are indispensable, but both of them are treats—as fun as they are interesting. Bravo on both counts.
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