Privacy Note: Source uses cookies or similar technologies to analyze trends, administer the website, track users’ movement around the website and to gather demographic information about our user base as a whole. The technology used to collect information automatically from Source Users may include cookies, web beacons, and embedded scripts. In addition, we and our analytics providers (such as Google), and service providers (such as PayPal and Mailchimp) may use a variety of other technologies that collect similar information for security and fraud detection purposes and we may use third parties to perform these services on our behalf. If you continue to use this site, you agree that we can place these types of cookies on your device.




Source Magazine: Thinking Through Photography - Issue 88

Order your copy of Source Issue 88 now using Paypal:

Europe and International postage options ▸

The winter 2016 issue of Source is all about Photobooks. What is the greatest ever photobook? We have conducted an international poll to discover the answer to this question, asking photographers, publishers, critics, booksellers, collectors and others to nominate their favourite books of all time. You can see additional analysis in the magazine but here are the results including the comments and selections of every nominator.

Return to Season Page ▸

Browse Photobook Poll Results:

(indexed by voter name)

Photobook Poll Results - C:

David Campany

Author, UK

Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait/Aftermath, 1992.

WHF Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature, 1844-46.

Bill Brandt, A Night in London, 1938.

Atget: Photographe de Paris, 1930.

Walker Evans, American Photographs, 1938.

Victor Burgin, Between, 1986.

Laure Albin Guillot, Micrographie Decorative, 1931.

Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel, Evidence, 1977.

Alain Resnais, Reperages, 1974.

Joel Sternfeld, American Prospects, 1987.

Josh Carey

Bondi Books, Hong Kong

Frannie Adams, Pussy Portraits, 2009.
Hardcover without jacket. Photographs of various females, each spread consisting of a close up portrait of a woman’s face with the opposing page image a close up of the same womans genitals. Page after page after page. This book must have sold well as it has been followed up by Pussy Portraits 2 and 3.

Nobuyoshi Araki, Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey, 1992.
Hardcover without jacket housed in a slipcase. One of Araki's first self published books 'Sentimental Journey' consisted of images pre-wedding and and on his honeymoon with his wife Yoko, this book published just over 20 years later consists of images of the last days and post death of the only woman he truly loved. A very sad and moving collection of images with Araki's love and sadness oozing from every page.

Henri Cartier Bresson, The Europeans, 1955.
Hardcover, paper over boards with the cover artwork by Joan Miro in bright red, yellow and blue. Unlike the US edition published by Simon and Schuster the French Editions Verve edition was published without a jacket. Nicer copies of this book are difficult to find but when found the colours on the covers almost bounce off. Photographs of the people of post war Europe taken between 1950 and 1955.

Robert Frank, The Lines of My Hand, 1972.
Hardcover with slipcase. This is officially the second edition produced soon after the first edition by Ralph Gibson's Lustrum Press of the same year. One of two Robert Frank books produced by Kazuhiko Motomura's publishing house Yugensha, the other being Flower Is. The book brings together Robert Frank's fantastic images with Motomura's intense attention to book design. The book is bound in the thickest black cloth we have have ever seen with a photograph mounted to the front cover. Housed in a black silk over boards slipcase with a variety of two different images mounted to the front.

Eikoh Hosoe, Barakei / Killed by Roses / Ordeal by Roses.
The first and second editions of 1963 and the re-edit of 1971. Photographs of the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima. Both books printed in luscious deep gravure. Both books large format with full bleed images. The 1971 edition was one of the first Japanese photobooks that i handled and to this day i still get sweaty palms when handling and viewing this book. Yukio Mishima helped with the re-edit in 1971 and within weeks of its completion had taken over the Self Defence Forces headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo with his 'army' of followers, he then committed seppuku (suicide) on the roof with one of his followers chopping his head off with a samurai sword to end his life in one grand finale.

Akira Ishigaki, Document Kagami No Heya / Document The Mirror Room, 1982.
Softcover with jacket and obi. Another book in the 'mook' format. Black and White images of the photographer playing with various girlfriends, each chapter titled with the girls name and the hotel they 'played in'. These photographs were taken over a two year period in 1976 and 1977. Another book that makes the viewer feel like a voyeur with many 'point of view' images of the photographer having sex with his girlfriends.

Ikko Kagari, Document Tsukin Densha / Document Commuter Train, 1982.
Softcover with jacket and obi. Another book in the 'mook' format. Photographs taken on the trains of Tokyo in the late 70's and early 80's of individual men and groups of men touching and fondling female passengers. Whether or not these photographs are of real victims or 100% set up is unknown. As in Kohei Yoshiyuki's Document Koen, Ikko Kagari shot the photographs in the this book in infrared creating some images that are very grainy, blurry and hard to make out what is happening in them. In Kohei Yoshiyuki's Document Park we the viewer are both able to view the voyeur and be the voyeur, in Kagari's Document Tsukin Densha the viewer is the voyeur.

Man Ray, Photography 1920 - 1934.
Stiff wrappers, spiral bound. This is a personal favourite for not only the content which documented the arts and entertainment personalities of the 1920's and 1930's but mainly for the absolutely amazing front cover which gives me goosebumps every time i hold it in my hands. The story of the publishers removing the first edition page and replacing it with a fake second edition page in the hopes of invigorating sales also adds to the allure of this book.

Yutaka Takanashi, Towards the City, 1974.
Hardcover bound in black cloth with a large metal disc mounted to the front cover. With a small paperback booklet titled Tokyo Jin / Tokyo People housed in a clamshell black paper over boards portfolio box. This is probably the finale of proper provoke productions from the period. The large cloth bound book consists of numerous images mainly taken on the outskirts of Tokyo and printed in very grainy black and white. The smaller book consists of images of the people of Tokyo.

Kohei Yoshiyuki, Document Koen / Document Park, 1980.
Softcover book with dust jacket and obi (belly band). A publication in Japan know as a 'mook' which is a combination of the words and format of 'book' and 'magazine'. Prologue interview with Nobuyoshi Araki. Photographs printed in deep black gravure that almost rubs off on your hands. Photographs of people hooking up for sex and the people that watch them in the parks of Shinjuku and Ueno in Tokyo in the late 70's. All photographs taken in infrared. Many images blurry and grainy reminiscent of some of the 'Provoke' period images by Daido Moriyama, Yutaka Takanashi and Takuma Nakahira.

Melissa Catanese

Photographer and founder of Spaces Corners, an artist-run photobook gallery, USA

Gregory Halpern, A, 2011.

Paul Graham, a shimmer of possibility, 2007.

Ron Jude, Alpine Star, 2006.

Tacita Dean, Floh, 2001.

Bertrand Fleuret, Landmasses and Railways, 2009.

Takashi Homma, Mushrooms from the Forest, 2011.

Chauncey Hare, Protest Photographs, 2009.

Awoiska van der Molen, Sequester, 2010.

Rinko Kawauchi, Utatane, 2014.

Lars Tunbjork, Vinter, 2007.

It was a greater challenge than I expected to narrow it down to 10 books. I tried to limit my selections to books that I have here on hand — books that can collect dust and irreverently gather the morning light and that I can revisit freely with a cup of coffee. This ruled out a few rare books for which I have a limited, but meaningful relationship for instance, Ravens, Map, or Waffenruhle.

Tony Cederteg

Publisher, Libraryman, Sweden

Wilhelm Schürmann, Fotografien, 1979.

Hajime Sawatari, Alice, 1973.

Corinne Day, Diary, 2000.

Larry Clark, Teenage Lust (Japanese Version), 1997.

Walter Pfeiffer, 1970-1980, 1980.

Masahisa Fukase, Ravens, 1986.

Hajime Sawatari, Hysteric Ten, 2004.

Stephen Gill, Coming up for Air, 2009.

Takashi Homma, New Waves, 2007.

Rinko Kawauchi, Hanako, 2001.

Gabriela Cendoya

Collector and blogger, Spain

Rinko Kawauchi, Utatane, 2010.

David Jiménez, Infinito, 2000.

Yoshikatsu Fujii, Red String, 2016.

Eric Stephanian, Lucas, 2013.

Jungjin Lee, Unnamed Road, 2014.

Daisuke Yokota, Site/Cloud, 2014.

Alec Soth, Broken Manual, 2010.

Boris Mikhailov, Diary, 2016.

Stephen Gill, Coexistence, 2012.

Ricardo Cases, La caza del lobo congelado, 2009.

I will talk only of photo books I have in my collection, so it will only be a very personal opinion, and, rather than the “greatest” , it will only be, modestly, the most loved books on my shelves. And even that is very very difficult! So, no Walker Evans, no Fukase, no Waffenruhe, not even Robert Frank… no 'historical' books. These aren’t the greatest, they may not even be the best I have. It’s just the ones I love I can think about right now. Very questionable, surely, but dear to my heart. I wish i had more women in this list…10 is definitely too short.

David Chandler

Writer, Programme tutor MA 'Photography and the Book', UK

Walker Evans, American Photographs, 1938.

Bill Brandt, The English At Home, 1936.

Jem Southam, The Red River, 1989.

Roni Horn, Another Water, 2000.

W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz, 2001.

Nigel Shafran, Dad's Office, 1999.

Cecil Beaton: Air of Glory, 1941.

Rinko Kawauchi, Utatane, 2001.

Paul Graham, a shimmer of possibility, 2007.

Wendy Ewald, Portraits and Dreams, 1985.

I have interpreted the 'greatest' Photobooks as being those most important for me; that is, the books with the greatest personal significance. There may be some overlaps with what might be a more general, and impossibly rich, historic list, but all my choices represent important moments in my own experience of photography. Linked to that, the list represents a personal chronology of sorts. It begins, for example, in 1978 with my discovery of Walker Evans American Photographs, forty years after its publication, in the American history section of Sussex University library. It was a battered first edition, a survivor, and one of only a few, lonely photography books on the shelves at that time. Wendy Ewald’s Portraits and Dreams, again registered with me decades after its original publication in 1985, after Wendy had included photographs and testimonies from the book in an amazingly inspirational talk at Plymouth University last year. The list is eclectic (Sebald’s book would be described as a novel, but its oblique combinations of images and text validate its inclusion, for me), like life it has its phases and mood swings, and inevitably it is forever moving and open ended. Nothing like this can ever be complete.

Josef Chladek

Writer and collector, Austria

Takuma Nakahira, For a Language to come, 1970.

Chris Killip, In Flagrante, 1988.

Dirk Alvermann, Algerien L'algérie, 1960.

Shomei Tomatsu, Oh! Shinjuku, 1969.

Masahisa Fukase, Ravens, 1986.

Koen Wessing, Chili September 1973, 1973.

Krass Clement, Drum, 1996.

William Klein, New York, 1956.

Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, Evidence, 1977.

Nobuyuki Wakabayashi, Gesshoku / Lunar Eclipse, 1972.

Irina Chmyreva

Co-founder and Art Director, Photovisa Festival, Russia

Robert Frank, The Americans, 1958.

William Klein, Moscow, 1964.

Bruce Weber, A House is not a home, 1996.

Nikolai Kulebyakin, Fragments, 2000.

Rodchenko Alexander & Stepanova, Varvara, USSR: Red Army and Navy, 1939.

Iliya Erenburg, text and photographs; El Lisitsky, montage and photographs, My Paris, 1933.

1933 Boris Mokhailov, Unfinished Dissertation, 1998.

Daido Moryama, Japan: A Photo Theatre, 1968.

Nobuyoshi Araki, Sentimental Journey / Winter Journey, 1991.

Juan Cires

Photographer, Spain

Anna Atkins, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, 1843.

Margaret Bourke-White, Erskine Caldwell, You Have Seen Their Faces, Viking Press, United States of America, 1937.

Bernhard Wicki, Zwei Gramm Licht, 1960.

Dave Heath, A Dialogue With Solitude, 1965.

Kenji Ishiguro, Hiroshima Now, 1970.

Tamiko Nishimura, Shikishima, 1973.

Claudia Andujar, George Love, Amazonia, 1978.

Marie-Françoise Plissart, Droit de Regards, Editions de Minuit, France, 1985.

Davide Baldrati, Io sono Rummenigge, 2013.

Patricia Almeida, David-Alexandre Guéniot, Ma Vie Va Changer, 2015.

List-making is fun, but my list of the 10 greatest photobooks has dozens of them. It starts with Photographs of British Algae, the first photobook in history, and ends with Ma Vie Va Changer, the best one published this decade. But, which books should I choose in between? What is a great photobook? I tried different strategies – starting with a very boring list with all the usual suspects – but everything seemed utterly arbitrary. The list never felt right because I always focused on those that didn't make it. I noticed that I felt sad when certain books weren't in the list. Somehow I felt a more personal connection to them. In the end I decided to embrace this subjectivity.

Tom Claxton

Writer and editor, USA

Alec Soth, Sleeping by The Mississippi, 2004.

Awoiska van der Molen, Sequester, 2014.

Chris Killip, In Flagrante, 1988.

John Divola, Dogs Chasing My Car in The Desert, 2004.

Ken Schles, Invisible City, 1988.

Michael Schmidt, Lebensmittel, 2012.

Paul Graham, Al: The Great North Road, 1983.

Richard Billingham, Ray's a Laugh, 1996.

Stephen Gill, Hackney Wick, 2005.

Vanessa Winship, She Dances on Jackson, 2013.

Louise Clements

Curator, UK

Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel, Evidence, 1977.

Leiko Shiega, Rasen Kaigan, 2013.

Zhao Renhui, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, 2013.

Will Steacy, Photographs Not Taken, 2012.

Mark Power, Die Mauer Ist Weg!, 2014.

Zhang Xiao, Coastline, 2011.

Bill Woods, Business,2008.

Masahisa Fukase, Ravens, 1986.

Lisa Barnard, Hyenas of the Battlefield, Machines in the Garden, 2015.

Regine Petersen, Find a Fallen Star, 2015.

Books that I revisit and talk about most often, which are well designed objects, with in-depth work.

Nicolas Codron

Bookseller, A Japanese Book, France

Takeji Iwamiya, Sado, 1962.

Kinsuke Shimada, Yukiguni, 1962.

Yoichi Midorikawa, Seto Inland Sea, 1962.

Kishin Shinoyama, 28 Girls by Kishin Shinoyama, 1968.

Ikko Narahara, Spain: Idai Naru Gogo / Grand Tarde, 1969.

Yukio Tabuchi, Designs of the Mountain, 1971.

Eikoh Hosoe, Ordeal by Roses Reedited, 1971.

Hajime Sawatari, Shojo Alice, 1973.

Kazuharu Harada, Kunihiro Takayama, Miyajima, 1978.

Nobuyoshi Araki, Erotos, 1993.

A selection of 10 outstanding Japanese photobooks, some celebrated works, some little-known (verging on unknown) titles, presented in an uninventive chronological order. In very few words: these books all have in common solid photowork and bookcrafting, and encompass a wide spectrum of interests: Taisho-nostalgic remote lifestyles depictions (Iwamiya, Shimada), travel and landscape (Midorikawa, Narahara, Tabuchi, Harada), landmark nude (Shinoyama, Araki), avant-garde book design/crafting (Midorikawa, Narahara, Hosoe), etc. Ah, and one scandalous narrative in a class of its own (Sawatari). 10 is all too few, but all in all this is just a starting point and a door that will lead, let us hope, the photobook lover where his or her curiosity counsels.

Rémi Coignet

Critic, France

Lewis Baltz, Candelstick Point, 1989.

Christian Boltanski, Le Club Mickey, 1991.

JH Engström, Trying to Dance, 2003.

Robert Frank, The Lines of my Hand, 1972.

Lee Friedlander, Self Portrait, 1970.

Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, 1986.

Paul Graham, A Shimmer of Possibility, 2007.

Kikuji Kawada, The Map, 1965.

Takuma Nakahira, For a Language to Come, 1970.

Christer Strömholm, Poste Restante, 1967.

For this list of my favorites books, I have decided to consider only books that are on my shelves whether first editions or reprints. To guide my choice, I asked myself which ones I’ll take with me on a desert island.

Jörg Colberg

Writer, USA

Nobuyoshi Araki, Erotos, 1993.

Richard Avedon & James Baldwin, Nothing Personal, 1964.

Katy Grannan, The Ninety Nine and The Nine, 2014.

Abigail Heyman, Growing Up Female, 1974.

Eikoh Hosoe, Man and Woman, 1961.

Kikuji Kawada, The Map, 1965.

Michael Schmidt, U-NI-TY, 1996.

Mark Steinmetz, Greater Atlanta/South East/South Central (ostensibly a trilogy of books, it's really just one book for me) 2007, 2008, 2009

Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Naked City, 1945.

Vanessa Winship, She Dances on Jackson, 2013.

I don't quite know what "greatest photobooks of all time" really means. But across the span of time and given what books I actually have access to, these are my top 10 favourite books.

Browse Photobook Poll Results:

(indexed by voter name)