50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know

Image of 50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know (50 You Should Know)
Release Date: 
November 17, 2016
Reviewed by: 

50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know is meant to be a Who’s Who of current influential photographers with the assumption that anyone who cares about contemporary photography should be aware of them. And although the book features such stellar photographers as Nick Brandt, Gregory Crewdson, Steve McCurry, Sarah Moon, Cindy Sherman, Sebastião Salgado, and many many others, the collection does not represent the younger generation of photographers who routinely post to Instagram and news media, such as the outstanding documentary work of Ruddy Roy. In truth, the majority of the photographers featured in the book have had their work in the public eye for at least 25 years.

Interestingly enough, 50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know is organized by the chronological age of the photographers, beginning with David Bailey, Josef Koudelka, and Joel Meyerowitz, and ending with the fascinating work of Richard Mosse.

The vast majority of these photographers are represented by a single image and a one-page bio. The saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it is no small task to cover 50 photographers in less than 158 pages unless one does so superficially.

The widely encompassing collection covers the genres of portraits, landscape, nudes, street and fashion photography as well as fine art, documentary, and abstract work. In effect, 50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know is a primer, a sparse and condensed introduction to these 50 talented image makers, both fine artists and commercial photographers, often with a blurring of these distinctions.

50 Contemporary Photographers You Should Know is a slim soft cover volume with excellent reproduction quality, medium weight paper, and solid binding. Although the images are outstanding and beautifully printed, ironically, it is often the biographies rather than the images that are all-embracing and bursting with so much information as to the photographer’s origins and nature of their work that they entice one to look further for a particular photographer’s oeuvre.

Unfortunately, a single image is not nearly enough to arrive at a substantial conclusion about a photographer’s work, but it is an alluring jumping off point. In the instances where the editors have indeed departed from the single-image restriction, the format is effective in communicating the strength of the photographic work.