The 10 Best Street Photography Books

 Need some inspiration for photographing the streets? Here are the 10 best street photography books to spark your creativity.

street photography books
The 10 Best Street Photography Books | Photo By Jon Trend

Street Photography is one of the earliest forms of visual documentation to date. This medium continues to grow in popularity within mainstream media, as more photographers are able to share their work online. But, before we posted our images on Instagram and forums, we had the beauty of print and physical books to showcase and admire the photographic medium.

To spark your inspiration and creativity for capturing the world around you, here are 10 street photography books every photographer should own.

Related: The Top Street Photographers For Capturing Society

10 Best Street Photography Books

1. Magnum Contact Sheets

street photography books
Magnum Contact Sheets

The first best street photography book is Magnum Contact Sheets.

Known as the “Bible of Street Photography” the Magnum Contact Sheets is one of the most highly sought after street photography books of all time. So what is it? It is pretty much a catalog of all the images you don’t get to see from Magnum photographers. The shots they take before and after the images, you have come to know today.

This book offers an inside look at how the legends of street photography got the images we have come to love today. Some photographers you can expect to find when scouring through the pages of this text are Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Cornell Capa, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Philip Jones Griffiths, Josef Koudelka, and Alex Web. 

Get your copy here

2. The Minds Eye: Henri Cartier-Bresson

street photography books
The Mind’s Eye

The second best street photography book is the Mind’s Eye.

This is the first compilation of writings from the legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Over the last century, Bresson’s images have been published all over the world but this book marks the first of his essays (some of which have never before been translated to English) to be put together in one place.

Written with the same attention to detail and eloquence as his photographs making this one of the most essential photography books of all time. 

Get your copy here

3. Street Photography Now

street photography books
Street Photography Now

The third best street photography book is Street Photography Now.

This book is a collection of essays and images from over 46 street photographers that have made a name for themselves in the industry. The essays included help shed light on the way street photographers think, what inspires them when they are out shooting, and how to recognize a good photo.

Not only will this book show you how to turn your photos into a time capsule it will inspire to get out there and capture life for yourself. 

Get your copy here

4. Robert Frank: The Americans

street photography books
The Americans

The fourth best street photography book is The Americans.

One of the most highly regarded photography books in the last 100 years Robert Frank’s The Americans is at the top of everybody’s list. With words by prolific American writer Jack Kerouac, this book was a cornerstone of American culture in the 1950s.

Noted for its wide array of photographs depicting the upper and lower class of American society. Published in 1958, this book was a portrait of the times and portrayed itself as such. Do yourself a favor and add this book to your collection. 

Get your copy here

5. Vivian Maier: Street Photographer

street photography books
Vivian Maier

The fifth best street photography book is Vivian Maier: Street Photographer.

Vivian Maier is one of photography’s biggest enigmas. Born 1926 and passing away in ‘09 it is hard to believe that her work remained unnoticed until 2007. With little to none of the photos ever getting scanned Maier had over 150,000 negatives that remain unpublished until a collector by the name of John Maloof acquired them.

Once he published them on Flickr the buzz picked up. This book is a collection of images that were discovered from her archives and in a short amount of time became one of the most essential books for any photographers collection. 

Get your copy here

6. Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment 

street photography books
The Decisive Moment

The sixth best street photography book is the Decisive Moment.

Hands down one of the most quoted phrases in street photography is Bresson’s “The Decisive Moment”. Published in 1952 with over 126 images documenting his journeys all over the world Bresson changed the way we view street photography.

This book has quite the price tag since it is hard to find and with a cover designed by Henri Matisse, this book will fit in on any shelf. 

Get your copy here

7. Elliot Erwitt: Personal Best

street photography books
Personal Best

The seventh best street photography book is Personal Best.

Elliot Erwitt is known as one of the pioneers of street photography. He became a household name after meeting and shooting the likes of Robert Capa, Edward Steichen, and several others as a photography assistant during several wars. After working closely with Capa he himself made Erwitt a member of the prestigious photographer group Magnum Photos.

One thing that Helped Erwitt stand out among the other photographers was his obsession with dogs. He even published 4 books focusing on the subject. “Personal Best” is a beautiful retrospective of Erwitt’s career as a whole. With over 440 pages of images ranging from portraits, dogs and breathtaking street images. There is no shortage of inspiration in this mammoth of a text. 

Get your copy here

8. Fred Herzog: Photographs 

street photography books
Fred Herzog Photographs

The eighth best street photography book is Photographs.

Fred Herzog set himself apart with his bold use of color in the 1950s and 60s at a time when photography was only taken seriously in black and white. Using the now extinct Kodachrome slide film he was able to capture captivating colors and details that not many photographers were capitalizing on.

His book “Photographs” showcases his impressive portfolio in a beautifully crafted volume of color and street photography. This book will serve as a vital piece of inspiration for photographers and color theorists alike. 

Get your copy here

9. Robert Doisneau

street photography books
Robert Doisneau

The ninth best street photography book is Doisneau.

Doisneau is known for his beautifully composed photographs of Paris and the surrounding areas. He had a knack for photographing humor as he often treated photography as a way to “see the world how he wanted and not how it is”.

This book is full of romantic black and white photos of France giving you the full scope of his life and career as a photographer. 

Get your copy here

10. Gary Winogrand: Figments From The Real World

street photography books
Figments From The Real World

The tenth best street photography book is Figments From the Real World.

This is the first comprehensive overview of photographer Garry Winogrand. Long out of print and difficult to come by, this book is now back and print and available to the masses. Known as the central photographer of his generation with his less than frivolous use of film he was able to stand out by taking photographs of anything and everything.

This compilation of work showcases the best of the best over the span of his career and is a great addition to any library. If you have time and are in New York you should head to the Brooklyn Museum to check out his retrospective being shown through December 8th.

Get your copy here

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Do you have any favorite street photography books? Share with us your recommendations on social at @h_collective