The coming of age of the Photographic Print has encouraged alongside it interest in the Photographic Monograph.  In short, the Photo Book.


     Photo books are beautiful physical objects and constitute original artwork, in many cases the first “lasting public record” of significant work.  It is, in fact, impossible to separate Photography from the Photo book. 


     Until the mid 1950‘s there was little opportunity for public viewing of a Photographer’s work other than in a Photo book.  The first ever photographic one man show was Walker Evan’s “American Photographs” at MOMA in 1938, (the catalogue is the lasting legacy of the show).


     Many Photographers, however, have always wanted to escape  the tyranny of the Gallery or Museum show.  They prefer the Photo book to gallery shows, as the sequence and content are entirely in their control, allowing them to have an intimate conversation with the viewer. 

Lee Friedlander claimed that the only place to see his photographs, as he intended you to view them, was in a book.  To prove his point he self-published “Self Portrait” and changed the direction of 20th Century photography.  In a 2006 auction a first edition copy sold for a whisker off £5,000.  Friedlander proved that the Photo book is not a representation of Art.  It is, in the hands of some artists, Art itself.


     In terms of investment, photography books are arguably one of the two best types of books to collect today (the other being first editions of modern fiction).  The main reason they are so collectable is simply that almost all photography books have low print runs and are seldom reprinted. 

     Christie’s and Sotheby’s have introduced regular Photo book sales in their calendars.  They require you to wear white cotton gloves to view the books.   It is very unlikely a bookseller would have asked you to do the same 20 years ago.


     Even if you just buy new books, you can build a valuable collection in a relatively short amount of time if you choose wisely.   A private collection we recently valued, yielded a growth of almost 300%.   Photography books don’t take a hundred years to become rare and valuable.  Some can become so in as little as five or ten years.


     Starting a collection will deepen your knowledge and enjoyment of photography, be an expression of your personal taste and be great fun.  Even if you buy no more than a dozen well-chosen books a year, in a decade or two you will have gathered a respectable and undoubtedly valuable collection.