Of all the photo books I’ve bought, there are a couple that sticks out. These are my favorites books about street photography.
If I could only buy or recommend one photo book that every photographer should own, it has to be The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier Bresson – such a masterpiece!
The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier Bresson.
This is the bible of photo books and every iconic photographer of our time would tell you the same.
It’s a thick book with a lot of text about Henri Cartier Bresson and his photographic journey to become the most famous street photographer of our time. Get it on Amazon.
Magnum Contact Sheets
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. Get Magnum Contact Sheets on Amazon.
Magnum Contact sheets give you an inside look into how some of the world’s 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.
Recently bought photography books
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.
Street Photography Now by Sophie Howarth.
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 examples 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.
Must-Watch: Iconic Photographer’s Favorite Photobooks
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 on Amazon and for good reasons.
Bryan Peterson does an amazing job of explaining complex concepts of exposure in photography, which 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 examples 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. Also, make sure to watch this video on how to take photos like Vivian Maier.
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.
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.
Another way to learn photography
Besides using books as a tool to become a better photographer, I can highly recommend you to check out Skillshare. This Street Photography Class example is created by a really talented photographer who can teach you about composition, editing, and editorial street photos. They have a free trial.
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.
Gear can only get you so far. But you already know that.
If you’re on the lookout for gifting a photographer a Christmas or birthday gift or if you need to make a wishlist, make sure to see my list of photography gift ideas.
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.
Read about the two cameras I’m using for street photography; The Ricoh GR 2, The Fuji X100V, and my Fuji x100f.
Read about my 365 days of street photography and check out my street portraits in black & white and in colors.