Photographer Bruce Davidson’s books East 100th Street and Subway have been republished by St. Ann’s Press. An exhibition of photos from Subway runs through February at Hermès in Manhattan.
The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson (out of print). First shown to me by a girlfriend in college in 1952. The visual rhythms and humanity in this classic work inspire me to this day.
The Family of Man edited by Edward Steichen (Museum of Modern Art, $20). This collection of images from many photographers around the world shows me how people bond together in their humanity. As a young photographer, I wanted to be part of an exploration of the matrix of man; now I see the world more as a family of mess.
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The Americans by Robert Frank (Scalo Verlag, $40). The images in this volume show an America that is not always gentle, sweet, or kind, as I was brought up to believe. In the cynical poetry of its imagery, there is more despair than hope. The book introduced me to an America I was not then ready to accept, although it caused an awakening in my consciousness.
A Vision of Paris: The Photographs of Eugène Atget, the Words of Marcel Proust edited by Arthur D. Trottenberg (out of print). In this volume, I was introduced to the atmosphere of a classic Paris life, a life that was disappearing. The mood of its imagery, the economy of its form, and the subtle poetry of its vision have inspired me for many years.
W. Eugene Smith: Master of the Photographic Essay (out of print). The work of W. Eugene Smith taught me to enter a world and stay around long enough to understand it, even if years are needed to uncover its meaning. In his photo essays, Smith always shows a deep passion and honest commitment to his subjects.
Inferno: James Nachtwey
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