(Updated May, 2018)
Beside learning photography through books, I’d highly recommend you to check out Skillshare. This Street Photography Class for example and really talented photographers who can teach you about composition, editing, and lighting. They have free trial.
I’m currently waiting for these five books about street photography
The Suffering of Light: Thirty Years of Photographs by Alex Webb (This just arrived and it’s incredible.)
Bystander: A History of Street Photography by Joel Meyerowitz.
Trent Parke: Minutes to Midnight by Trent Parke.
Bruce Davidson: Subway by Bruce Davidson.
Street Photography Now by Sophie Howarth.
Gear can only get you so far. But you already know that.
Since I started doing street photography, I only bought two cameras. The Ricoh GR II at first, and then the Amazing Fujifilm X100f. Since then, the rest of my budget for street photography has gone to photo books, essays, journals and photo travels.
Of the books I’ve picked up about the street photography, there are a couple that sticks out. These are my favorites books about street photography.
Magnum Contact Sheets – Kristen Lubben
Have you ever wondered how professional documentary and street photographers work a scene? It’s for good reasons this book is on every “best street photography books list.
Magnum Contact sheets give you an inside look into how some of the world greatest street and documentary photographers, like Henri Cartier- Bresson, Inge Morath, Alec Soth and Elliott Erwitt work a scene.
If you want to buy one book about street photography, this would be my recommendation.
Read all the crazy positive reviews on Magnum Contact Sheets on Amazon.
Road to Seeing – Dan Winters
I was immediately drawn to this book when I found it. The title, the beautiful layout and the thickness.
It’s a 696 pages book that will take you through Dan Winters’ journey on how we became the photographer he is today, starting in his teenage years as an enthusiastic photographer and fighting his way up the ladder, as a photo assistant.
This book is not really a ‘How to take better photos’ book, but more like a ‘how to become a professional photographer“, through the eyes of one Dan Winters, who is best known for his portrait photography, but also has a lot of street photography.
If you haven’t read it, you should get Road to Seeing on Amazon.com.
Dan has had a very interesting life and the 696 pages are gone before you know it.
The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman
This book is photography 101. Michael Freeman goes in depth about how to do composition in photography and if you have ever read one of Michael Freeman’s books, you know they are packed with how-to’s & practical example on how to take better pictures. It’s difficult to find a better teacher in photography than him. Michael Freeman takes you through the overview of lighting, ISO, aperture, and some of the tricks on how to get better composition on your photographs. This is not about street photography, but about how to understanding light, exposure, and composition.
Just read the reviews on Amazon.com.
Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera.
The topic of this book is not street photography, but how to take better pictures. But for me, as a street photographer, this is one of the books that I’ve learned more from, in terms of general photography tips. I can’t recommend this enough.
Understanding Exposure is one of the best-reviewed photography books Amazon and for good reasons.
Bryan Peterson does an amazing job at explaining complex concepts of exposure in photography, that allows the reader to take a lot better photos.
See the reviews for yourself.
Vivian Maier – Street Photographer.
By now, most of us have heard about Vivian Maier through the Netflix documentary Finding Vivian Maier. In her book about street photography, you’ll see how a lot of example of how to do great composition and how to capture moments. Vivian Maier is mostly known for shooting with her Rolleiflex camera, which is an interesting choice of camera for street photography because you naturally will shoot from the hip.
These books I’m recommending are a mix of photo stories, essays, how to’s, biographies and contact sheets from some of the most accomplished street photographers, documentary photographers, portrait photographers, photojournalists and portrait photographers and fashion photographers. Most of these Street photography books can be downloaded as ebooks and audiobooks too if that’s your thing. I know Audible has a 30-days free trial you can get.
This list is compiled by my personal preferences of which book that left the biggest impression on me and from conversations with other street photographers and documentary photographers.
I hope you found out which street photography book you want to pick up next. And that fact that you made it through the list, tells me you are on the right track to improve your photography skills. Even if you just want to take better photographs as a hobby, for the family or professionally.