back to top

21 Of The Most Incredible Photo Books From 2017

A look back at the most beautiful and thought-provoking photo books from 2017.

Posted on

"Photographer Peter van Agtmael has worked on books that explore the state of the US for the past eight years, starting with Disco Nights Sept. 11 and continuing with his current work, Buzzing at the Sill. The former examined the effects of war on our country and the latter looks more deeply at our society and how it is beset with questions about race, class, memory, war, family, and history."

—Kate Bubacz, deputy photo director, BuzzFeed News

"We Are Still Here [...] captures the vibrant energy of Chicanx youth in East LA. Through the expressive grain of analog film photography, these pictures document a young generation of Mexican-Americans taking cues from punk, art, and revolution to embrace their heritage and make their presence known in America."

—Gabriel H. Sanchez, photo essay editor, BuzzFeed News

Advertisement

"Recently Greene’s son, Joshua Greene, compiled and restored some of his father’s best-known photographs of Monroe (Greene died in 1985), as well as never-before-seen shots, for a new retrospective book, The Essential Marilyn Monroe: Milton H. Greene, 50 Sessions."

—Brian Galindo, Senior Editor, BuzzFeed

"I Fought the Law looks at some of the most absurd and totally pointless laws that still exist in the US. After narrowing down her research to the single most bizarre law in each of the 50 states, Locher purposefully broke the rule in front of the camera. The results are a colorful and humorous look at the changing legal landscape of United States over the past century."

—G.H.S.

Advertisement

"Jocoy’s second published book, Order of Appearance, politicized the emerging punk scene that is often viewed as a mere footnote compared to its neighboring scenes. Through bold color that fills the frame with added cinematic styling, Jocoy’s images play on intimacy, vulnerability, and rawness, depicting those fleeting moments of youth culture."

—Jade Cardichon, photo intern, BuzzFeed News

"In a masterful blend of narrative and visual storytelling, Morgan Ashcom's photobook What the Living Carry tells the story of a fictional town called Hoy's Fork and the residents who call it home. The project began when the NYC-based photographer found himself routinely traveling back to his rural hometown and was forced to grapple with the two realities he was straddling."

—Laura Geiser, photo editor, BuzzFeed News

Advertisement

"Fink On Warhol: New York Photographs of the 1960s brings together this previously unpublished work for the first time to provide a candid and empathetic view of city life and culture during the turbulent 1960s."

—G.H.S.

"Clad in dazzling colors and never to be seen without a necktie, black 'dandies' define their own style by celebrating individuality with unabashed experimentation and a keen awareness of their history. [...] Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style dives deeper into the topic by highlighting the work and styles of photographers, designers, celebrities, and personalities from that world."

—G.H.S.

Advertisement

"There's a certain raw intimacy that has always come across in Petra Collins' work. Each picture [looks like it was shot by] a fly on the bedroom wall of a young woman, caught at the cross-section of innocence and adulthood."

—G.H.S.

"Like tintypes, blues music has a timeless feel to it even as the names of the musicians change over the years. The images in this series look like they could have been taken anytime in the past century and a half, a reverse-time-travel trick that is clever and fun."

—K.B.

Advertisement

"By the mid-1970s, [Daniel Nicoletta] had landed a job at a San Francisco camera store owned by Harvey Milk and his partner Scott Smith. Under their direction, Nicoletta developed his talent as a photographer by documenting the vibrant LGBT community of San Francisco and finding himself on the forefront of a transformative era for LGBT civil rights. LGBT: San Francisco brings together over 40 years of Nicoletta's attentive work documenting the LGBT civil rights movement from the 1970s to present day."

—G.H.S.

"There's an eerie silence that permeates throughout Andrew Lichtenstein's photographs taken at the sites of racial tragedies in the US. These are places where blood was spilled and unspeakable horrors inflicted, the consequences of which we are still grappling with today. Turn on the TV or listen in at any dinner table in America and you'll undoubtedly hear a slew of opinions on US race relations — but here, in these dark and melancholic pictures, the spaces are allowed to speak for themselves."

—G.H.S.

Advertisement

"Polarized by photographer Richard Kern, brings together his provocative and highly sexual Polaroids, spanning the 1980s to the early 2000s. These pictures are as elegant as they are explicit, conveying an entire spectrum of beauty and emotion. FYI, this one is totally NSFW, so go home, kiddies."

—G.H.S.

"These days, with so many other topics to debate, Guantánamo has largely faded from our national consciousness, making photographer Debi Cornwall's work at the naval base and beyond so important."

—L.G.

"N. O. K.: Next of Kin is a quiet and introspective collection of pictures that approaches how the US's Gold Star families grieve after the loss of a military service member. The book itself is small and delicate, alluding to those precious belongings left behind by their loved ones."

—G.H.S.

"Aging Gracefully, by photographer Karsten Thormaehlen, celebrates the beauty of the body's natural aging process. The book features both men and women, all over 100 years old. [...] While for some their eyes might communicate a weary wisdom, having lived through wars, revolutions, and personal tragedies, there is still the overwhelming sense of joy to be alive."

—L.G.

"Sisters captures that unique and intimate connection that can only be shared between sisters. Each picture is accompanied by their own stories and conversations, offering a heartwarming look at the deep and at times complex relationship of sisterhood."

—G.H.S.

"These pictures offer an unadulterated look at the people and traditions slowly fading from today's popular culture. From carnival clowns and sword-swallowers to fire-eaters and live tigers, Hunter Barnes reveals the absurd and at times somber lifestyle of those who ran away with the circus."

—G.H.S.

"This is a book that needs to be seen in real life — screens don’t adequately convey the richness of the tintypes that Victoria Will and Peanut Press managed to capture in print. The slowness of the antiquated process and Will’s ease with celebrities allows for unique and intimate sides of familiar faces to be seen."

—K.B.

"Since 2014, Bendiksen has been following seven self-proclaimed messiahs from around the world, each truly believing that they are the second coming of Jesus Christ. His new book, The Last Testament, chronicles his journey."

—G.H.S.

"For decades, the incredible Helen Levitt (1913–2009) captured the spirit of New York City through her swift and unabashed street photography. [...] Manhattan Transit: The Subway Photographs of Helen Levitt compiles some of the artist's most poignant images from the one thing which threads together the lives of every New Yorker."

—G.H.S.

BuzzFeed's resident photo geek.

Contact Gabriel H. Sanchez at gabriel.sanchez@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted