8 Photography Books that Will Inspire You to Create Your Own

Marianne Stenger
27th March 2019

As a photographer, it can be impossibly difficult to whittle a large body of work down to a certain number of images, which is why the image selection process also tends to be the most time-consuming part of creating a photography book.

This makes sense, of course, when you consider that a photo book is more than just a collection of photographs; it represents a photographer’s work and world views, while also telling a story.

So if you’re planning a photo book of your own and are looking for some inspiration, here are some examples of gorgeous photography books that will get you thinking and spark your creativity.

1. WO MEN

This photo book by Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra is focused on the transition of the female figure and depicts women in some of their most raw and vulnerable moments.

Although Dijkstra initially started working as a commercial photographer, she was inspired to shoot different types of images after she photographed herself emerging exhausted from a swimming pool. The photograph showed her in an unguarded moment, when she was too tired to pose or worry about how she looked, and it sparked her interest in using photography to portray women in a different light. Wo Men brings together some of Dijkstra's most iconic images taken over the span of three decades, and is a great example of strong portraiture.

2. Improvising with Light

Anthony Marshall has been a professional artist for most of his working life, but when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2018 and constrained to a wheelchair, he found himself becoming more creative than ever before.

Marshall says focusing on his art helped him maintain a positive mental attitude, and his gorgeously colourful photo book is a product of this renewed creativity. To create the images, he used an iPad Pro and a number of apps to blend photo sketches with painting and drawing as a hybrid medium. He constantly looks for new improvisations and interpretations, and his abstract images bring together different elements such as the quality and movement of water, botanical elements like plants, flowers and trees, and even the urban environment of contemporary architecture.

3. Andalusia

British born, Morocco-based landscape photographer Darren Lewey runs photo tours, workshops, and small group photography holidays to share his knowledge and help other photographers develop their skills in a photographically-rich environment.

His magical photo book depicts the lush forest of Los Alcornocales in Andalusia, Spain. Lewey says Andalusia’s rocky shoreline and the Mars-like imagery of the Rio Tinto inspired him to create semi-abstract images of the landscape. The result is a stunning mixture of abstract nature photography along with thought-provoking passages from classic literature that help the images come alive.

4. Through the Looking Glass

Julie Cullen is a professional photographer who specialises in landscape and portrait photography. Her striking images, shot primarily in black and white, emphasise light and shadows.

Cullen’s photo book uses images and poems to tell the story of a brain injury survivor. She says working on the project was an emotional experience, as it involved working with a close loved one who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. The surreal images were all captured using mirrors, glass, glass balls or other reflective surfaces, which help portray the feelings of brain fog that can take over and the walls the brain must put up in order to protect itself. Ultimately, the book is a thought-provoking and inspiring example of storytelling through photography.

5. Annie Leibovitz Photographs 1970-1990

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most iconic portrait photographers of all time, and her compelling photography book is bound to serve as an inspiration whether your area of interest is portrait photography or not.

The photo book is a stunning collection of 200 colour and black-and-white photographs that were taken during the first two decades of her career. It includes some of her best-known photographs, including portraits of Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Muhammad Ali.

6. A Stitch in Time

Caroline Keill’s thought-provoking photo book was produced as the final outcome of her degree in contemporary photography. It takes a unique look at the fashion industry by focusing not on the abstract and symbolic qualities of products as most photography does, but instead emphasising the fashion industry’s disconnection from production processes.

Keill points out that fashion items are rarely purchased for quality or practicality, but rather for the cultural identity and perceived status that they bestow. This leads to a continuous cycle of mindless consumption and disposal, and her images confront this by highlighting the ultimately devastating effects of over consumption as well as the changing face of the UK’s clothing industry.

7. Twins, Peter Zelewski

Peter Zelewski is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer whose work has been featured in publications like The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, and the British Journal of Photography. His photography focuses on human relationships, culture, and urban life, and Twins is the culmination of the more than four years he spent photographing and documenting the stories of identical twins.

His work provides a fascinating glimpse at how identical twins can be very similar in some ways, yet surprisingly different in others. Each of the 44 portraits in the book is accompanied by quotes from the twins, explaining their relationships and offering a unique insight into what it can be like to grow up with someone that looks identical to you. See his book here.

© Image: Hoxton Mini Press

8. Kiss of the Oceans

French-Venezuelan wildlife and underwater photographer Irene Mendez Cruz created her photo book Kiss of the Oceans to celebrate the beautiful and diverse, but highly fragile marine life along the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama.

Mendez-Cruz says her goal was to show as much biodiversity as possible, while also documenting the main threats to the environment. The final product is a stunning collection of images that provide a glimpse into an underwater world that most of us are unfamiliar with, while also drawing attention to what we stand to lose if these fragile ecosystems such as these are not protected.

Want to get started on a photography book of your own? Check out these tips for designing your own photo book or find out more about the styles of photo books and paper types available at Bob Books.