It’s that time to start thinking about creative and classic gifts for your loved ones. I have a few suggestions if you have any artists or photographers on your list! I just love coffee table books. I have FAR more than would ever reasonably fit on a coffee table. I usually start by just looking through at the lovely (giant) images on each page, and then going through a second time to read the introduction or descriptions and other details that provide more insight into how the artist created what they did. Anyone looking for gifts for photographers can’t go wrong with a classic coffee table book full of inspiration.
Note: All of these I own and love. I revisit each of them from time to time to really soak in how professionals work and what is possible to create.
Links and quoted descriptions all from Amazon.
I’m pretty sure you know this, but I LOVE Vanity Fair (the magazine, not the book by William Makepeace Thackeray).
The book of Vanity Fair portraits was one of the first coffee table books I ever got – I just love old Hollywood, and the collection of images in this book covers such a range of time and subjects, I can always find something that inspires me.
“Vanity Fair: The Portraits brings together 300 iconic portraits from Vanity Fair’s 95-year history in a remarkable book that captures the image of modern fame—the magical thing that happens when individual talent and beauty (and sometimes genius) is caught in the spotlight of popular curiosity and passion. The photographers—from Edward Steichen and Cecil Beaton to Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino—are a glittering and celebrated group themselves. Their portraits have become the iconic likenesses of the best-known figures from the worlds of art, film, music, sports, business, and politics.
From legends such as Pablo Picasso, Amelia Earhart, Cary Grant, and Katharine Hepburn to the stars, writers, athletes, style icons, and titans of business and politics of today, Vanity Fair: The Portraits offers an authoritative roster of talent and glamour in the 20th century.”
Andrew and I made a trip down to San Diego to see friends and go see the exhibit based on these images at the San Diego Museum of Art. I just fell in love with Richard Avedon’s style and put this book on my wish list as soon as we got home.
“The preeminent stars and artists of the performing arts from the second half of the 20th century offered their greatest gifts—and, sometimes, their inner lives—to Richard Avedon. More than 200 are portrayed in Performance, many in photographs that have been rarely or never seen before. Of course, the great stars light the way: Hepburn and Chaplin, Monroe and Garland, Brando and Sinatra. But here too are the actors and comedians, pop stars and divas, musicians and dancers, artists in all mediums with public lives that were essentially performances, who stand at the pinnacle of our cultural achievement.
The celebrated author and critic John Lahr offers an elegant assessment of Avedon’s achievement. Four supremely talented artists from the performing arts—Mike Nichols, André Gregory, Mitsuko Uchida, and Twyla Tharp—contribute lively and moving memoirs about their collaborations with Avedon.”
This is also a book that we saw the live exhibit of first. I love Elvis, I love this style of documentary photography, and I was so excited to get this book.
Read my review of the photo exhibit here
“In 1956, a twenty-one-year-old Elvis Presley was at the beginning of his remarkable and unparalleled career and photographer Alfred Wertheimer was asked by Presley’s new label, RCA Victor, to photograph the rising star. With unimpeded access to the young performer, Wertheimer was able to capture the unguarded and everyday moments in Elvis’ life during that crucial year, a year that took him from Tupelo, Mississippi to the silver screen, and to the verge of international stardom and his crowning as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” As Alfred Wertheimer photographed Elvis during 1956, and again in 1958, he created classic images that are spontaneous, unrehearsed and completely without artifice.
Wertheimer’s photographs of Elvis are extraordinary and he appears almost ethereal, whether reading a newspaper while waiting for a cab, or washing his hands during one of his many train trips. After 1958 and Elvis’ induction into the army, the world seemingly forgot about Wertheimer’s magical photographs- for nineteen years- until Aug 16, 1977, the day Elvis died and Time Magazine called. “The phone hasn’t really stopped ringing in the last thirty years,” observes Wertheimer.
Many of the photographs in this visual treasury are previously unpublished and some have become almost as famous as the man himself.”
I don’t remember where I first heard about this book, but the concept was so different. So singular to Norman Rockwell’s style and method. I love going through this book to study the images, but also to notice any differences between the photos and the illustrations and try to think about why he would have made those changes.
“Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera is the first book to explore the meticulously composed and richly detailed photographs that Norman Rockwell used to create his famous artworks. Working alongside skilled photographers, Rockwell acted as director, carefully orchestrating models, selecting props, and choosing locations for the photographs–works of art in their own right–that served as the basis of his iconic images. Readers will be surprised to find that many of his most memorable characters-the girl at the mirror, the young couple on prom night, the family on vacation-were friends and neighbors who served as his amateur models. In this groundbreaking book, author and historian Ron Schick delves into the archive of nearly 20,000 photographs housed at the Norman Rockwell Museum. Featuring reproductions of Rockwell’s black-and-white photographs and related full-color artworks, along with an incisive narrative and quotes from Rockwell models and family members, this book will intrigue anyone interested in photography, art, and Americana”
Need more ideas for gifts for photographers?
Check out my What’s in my Camera Bag? series
or my Holiday gift guide from last year