Review: The Photography Book, Edited by Ian Jeffrey (Phaidon)

The Photo Book, by Ian Jeffrey
The Photo Book, Edited by Ian Jeffrey

Since we’ve got a handful of new readers, and some of you giving our 365 Photo Project a whirl, I wanted to kill two birds with one stone today by reviewing The Photography Book, which is put out by Phaidon (the same folks whose other titles include The Art Book and The 20th Century Art Book).

Bird number one, as it were, is the book itself. Like the other two aforementioned titles, The Photography Book is arranged with its subjects in alphabetical order. This makes it easy to find a particular photographer (so it’s a cinch finding Philippe Halsman, provided you haven’t forgotten his last name), but it makes it something of a challenge to establish any kind of context. Nearly the entire history of photography is represented here, much of it by photographers whose work is on the obscure side, and that’s a good thing. Devoid of chronology, and with only bare-bones commentary, it’s up to the reader to go out and do his or her own research in order to find out more along those lines.

The book comes in two formats, one of which is… well, you know, book-sized (yes, I know, if it’s a book, it’s the size of a book by default… don’t get technical with me), and the other of which would fit neatly into a camera bag, purse, or large-ish pocket.

I’m still eyeing that other bird, by the way, which is this: whether you’re photographing just for fun, for the sake of a project (howdy, project people), for work, or just because all the cool kids are doing it, you’ll soon find (if you haven’t figured out already) that inspiration ebbs and flows… and when it ebbs, it’s often at an inopportune time. So The Photography Book is helpful not just from the standpoint of developing your visual “voice” and visual literacy, but also because it can be a shot of inspiration at the times yours is on the wane.

Support The First 10,000 by purchasing The Photography Book, The Art Book or The 20th Century Art Book (or anything else you’d like) through Amazon (affiliate links)

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