back to blog
featured

13 Essential Photobooks by Women Photographers

From Florence Henri’s little-known avant-garde photographs of the 1920s to Susan Meiselas’s piercing documentary photography of the 1970s, we’ve compiled a list of Aperture photobooks by women photographers that are sure to inspire.

Thomas_Muse_Cover_Render_uptodate

Over the course of her storied career, Mickalene Thomas has worked in a variety of mediums, drawing inspiration from the women around her. Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs is the first book to gather together her various approaches to photography. From cultural icons like Beverly Johnson and Vonetta McGee to her family members and lovers, each of Thomas’s “muses” grapples with and asserts new definitions of beauty.

Mickalene Thomas, Remember Me, 2006

Mickalene Thomas, Remember Me, 2006

Negress #3, 2005

Mickalene Thomas, Negress #3, 2005

A Moment's Pleasure #2, 2007

Mickalene Thomas, A Moment's Pleasure #2, 2007

Kurland_Render_HIRES

Since 2004, photographer Justine Kurland and her young son, Casper, have traveled in their customized van across the United States. As Kurland balances life as an artist and mother, her son heavily influences her subject matter. Exploring the idea of the American dream juxtaposed against reality, the photographs in Highway Kind are equal parts raw and romantic.

Justine Kurland, Baby Tooth, 2011; from Highway Kind (Aperture, 2016)

Justine Kurland, Baby Tooth, 2011
© Justine Kurland

Justine Kurland, 280 Coup, 2012; from Highway Kind (Aperture, 2016)

Justine Kurland, 280 Coup, 2012
© Justine Kurland

JK_6

Justine Kurland, New Family, Black Bear Ranch, 2011
© Justine Kurland

Nicaragua_RenderNEW

In the late 1970s, Susan Meiselas traveled independently to Nicaragua to document the Somoza regime during its decline. The images she made would transform her career. Originally published in 1981, and reissued in 2016 with an augmented reality (AR) function, Nicaragua: June 1978 - July 1979 remains a seminal contribution to the literature of concerned photojournalism.

MEISELAS_04_web

Susan Meiselas, Monimbo woman carrying her dead husband home to be buried in their backyard
© Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

MEISELAS_02_web

Susan Meiselas, Muchachos await counterattack by the Guard, Matagalpa, 1978
© Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

MEISELAS_03_web

Susan Meiselas, Street fighter in Managua, 1979
© Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

LRF__Render

The Notion of Family, LaToya Ruby Frazier’s first book, offers an exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in America’s small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Enlisting the participation of her family—and her mother in particular—Frazier reinforces the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large.

Notion09

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Momme (Floral Comforter), from Momme Portrait Series, 2008
© LaToya Ruby Frazier

Notion08

LaToya Ruby Frazier, Grandma Ruby and J.C. in Her Kitchen, 2006
© LaToya Ruby Frazier

Notion04

LaToya Ruby Frazier, The Bottom (Talbot Towers, Allegheny County Housing Projects), 2009
© LaToya Ruby Frazier

BALLAD_render_cover

Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggle for intimacy and understanding between Goldin’s friends, family, and lovers. Aperture first published her irreverent and visceral images as a book in 1986. The influence of Ballad on photography and other aesthetic realms has continually grown, making the work a contemporary classic.

BALLAD_06_hires

Nan Goldin, Trixie on the cot, New York City, 1979
© Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, <em>The Hug, New York City 1980</em>, © Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin, The Hug, New York City, 1980
© Nan Goldin

BALLAD_01_hires

Nan Goldin, C.Z. and Max on the beach, Truro, Mass., 1976
© Nan Goldin

CALLIS_render_cover

Provocative, seductive, and surprisingly fresh, this collection of Jo Ann Callis’s work from the mid-1970s investigates the nude body and sexuality. Callis utilizes twine, belts, tape, and other everyday materials in an intimate exploration of pleasure and eros. Other Rooms is as beautiful and delicate as it is mysterious and disconcerting. 

CALLIS_05_web

Jo Ann Callis, Hand in Honey, 1976–77
© Jo Ann Callis, Courtesy Rose Gallery

CALLIS_04_web

Jo Ann Callis, Woman with Black Line 1976–77
© Jo Ann Callis, Courtesy Rose Gallery

CALLIS_03_web

Jo Ann Callis, Woman in Crimson Slip, 1978
© Jo Ann Callis, Courtesy Rose Gallery

ARBUS_render_cover

One of the best-known female photographers of her generation, Diane Arbus was already a legend among serious photographers when she died in 1971. In 1972, Aperture published Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph, and offered the general public its first encounter with her momentous achievements. The response was unprecedented. Universally acknowledged as a timeless masterpiece, this book will transform the way you see the world.  

ARBUS_01_hires

Diane Arbus, Boy with a straw hat waiting to march in a pro-war parade, N.Y.C 1967
from Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (2011)

ARBUS_02_hires

Diane Arbus, Woman with a veil on Fifth Avenue, N.Y.C 1968
from Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (2011)

ARBUS_03_hires

Diane Arbus, A house on a hill, Hollywood, Cal. 1963
from Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph (2011)

MEM_Workshop_Render

Mary Ellen Mark is renowned for the emotional power of her pictures. Though she died in 2015, she remains one of the most respected and influential photographers of our time. Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment distills over fifty years of Mark’s experience and wisdom, providing photographers with a unique chance to learn from Mark’s astonishing life and career. The book was printed just before she passed away.

The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles, California, USA 1987

Mary Ellen Mark, The Damm Family in Their Car, Los Angeles, California, USA, 1987
© Mary Ellen Mark

Beautiful Emine posing, Trabzon, Turkey, 1965

Mary Ellen Mark, Beautiful Emine posing, Trabzon, Turkey, 1965
© Mary Ellen Mark

Pinky and Shiva Ji, The Great Royal Circus, Junagadh, India, 1992

Mary Ellen Mark, Pinky and Shiva Ji, The Great Royal Circus, Junagadh, India, 1992
© Mary Ellen Mark

Paz_Cubierta_Cover_3Drender

During the height of the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1970s, Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz was taking great risks to continue her work, which violated the regime’s strict regulations. She dared to visit brothels, psychiatric wards, and boxing clubs, where women weren’t welcome. In Paz Errázuriz: Survey, over 170 photographs by Errázuriz are compiled for the first time.

Club Buenos Aires, Santiago, from the series (In twos) Tango

Paz Errázuriz, Club Buenos Aires, Santiago, from the series (In twos) Tango
courtesy the artist

Evelyn IV, Santiago, from the series Adam's apple, 1987

Paz Errázuriz, Evelyn IV, Santiago, from the series Adam's apple, 1987
courtesy the artist

25

Paz Errázuriz, Atáp, Ester Edén Wellington, Puerto Edén, from the series The nomads of the sea, 1995
courtesy the artist

Immediate_Family_Render_Cover

When Aperture first published Sally Mann's Immediate Family in 1992, it was met with both acclaim and criticism. Though Mann’s extraordinary, intimate photos of her children caused an uproar among religious conservatives who deemed the work pornographic, the book is lauded by critics as one of the great photography publications of our time.

IMFAMILY_05_hires

Sally Mann, Night-blooming Cereus 1988
© Sally Mann

IMFAMILY_04_hires

Sally Mann, Jessie Bites 1988
© Sally Mann

IMFAMILY_03_hires

Sally Mann, Gorjus 1988
© Sally Mann

Henri_render

Florence Henri’s work occupied a central place in the world of avant-garde photography in the late 1920s, and Florence Henri: Mirror of the Avant-Garde, 1927–40 pays homage to her essential, but under-recognized contribution. She remains an inspiration for photographers, artists, and design enthusiasts alike.

Composition Portrait, Cora,1931, from Florence Henri: Mirror of

Florence Henri, Composition Portrait, Cora, 1931

Self-Portrait, 1937, from Florence Henri: Mirror of the Avant Ga

Florence Henri, Self-Portrait,1937

Abstract Composition, 1929, from Florence Henri: Mirror of the A

Florence Henri, Abstract Composition, 1929, 1929

LE_EventsAshore_Cover_Render

An-My Lê’s Events Ashore is an exploration of the American military, a pursuit both personal and civic. “This work is as much about my perspective and personal history as a political refugee from Vietnam as it is about the vast geopolitical forces and conflicts that shape these landscapes." With this body of work, Lê has assembled a visual narrative of that constitutes the American military experience—and influence. 

AML_115_13_vs7 Ghana_109

An-My Lê, Marine Corps Martial Art Program, Bundase Training Camp, Ghana, 2010
© An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy Gallery, New York

AML_053_13_final_vs3_brownshirt_153b

An-My Lê, Line Shack Supervisor for EA-6B Prowler, USS Ronald Regan, North arabian Gulf, 2009
© An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy Gallery, New York

AML_042_13_vs4 AM_CARATthai_021_16

An-My Lê, Demonstration of Puma AE Unmanned Aircraft System, HTMS Nareasuan, Sattahip Naval Taining Center, Thailand, 2010
© An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy Gallery, New York

Range_render

In Range, Umbrico examines the analog history of photography within the digital torrent that is its current technological manifestation. It is the latest iteration of Umbrico’s larger project Moving Mountains, in which the artist rephotographs a selection of canonical masters’ photographs of mountains—the oldest and seemingly most stable of subjects—with a variety of the newest smartphone camera apps.

Mickalene Thomas, Muse
Over the course of her storied career, Mickalene Thomas has worked in a variety of mediums, drawing inspiration from the women around her. From cultural icons like Beverly Johnson and Vonetta McGee to her family members and lovers, each of Thomas’s “muses” grapples with and asserts new definitions of beauty.

Justine Kurland, Highway Kind
Since 2004, photographer Justine Kurland and her young son, Casper, have traveled in their customized van across the United States. As Kurland balances life as an artist and mother, her son heavily influences her subject matter. Exploring the idea of the American dream juxtaposed against reality, the photographs in Highway Kind are equal parts raw and romantic.

Susan Meiselas, Nicaragua: June 1978 – July 1979
In the late 1970s, Meiselas traveled independently to Nicaragua to document the Somoza regime during its decline. The images she made would transform her career. Originally published in 1981, Nicaragua remains a seminal contribution to the literature of concerned photojournalism.

LaToya Ruby Frazier, The Notion of Family 
The Notion of Family, Frazier’s first book, offers an exploration of the legacy of racism and economic decline in America’s small towns, as embodied by her hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Enlisting the participation of her family—and her mother in particular—Frazier reinforces the idea of art and image-making as a transformative act, a means of resetting traditional power dynamics and narratives, both those of her family and those of the community at large.

Nan Goldin, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggle for intimacy and understanding between Goldin’s friends, family, and lovers. Aperture first published her irreverent and visceral images as a book in 1986. The influence of Ballad on photography and other aesthetic realms has continually grown, making the work a contemporary classic.

Jo Ann Callis, Other Rooms
Provocative, seductive, and surprisingly fresh, this collection of Jo Ann Callis’s work from the mid-1970s investigates the nude body and sexuality. Callis utilizes twine, belts, tape, and other everyday materials in an intimate exploration of pleasure and eros. Other Rooms is as beautiful and delicate as it is mysterious and disconcerting.

Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph
One of the best-known female photographers of her generation, Diane Arbus was already a legend among serious photographers when she died in 1971. In 1972, Aperture published Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph, and offered the general public its first encounter with her momentous achievements. The response was unprecedented. Universally acknowledged as a timeless masterpiece, this book will transform the way you see the world.

Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment
Mary Ellen Mark is renowned for the emotional power of her pictures. Though she died in 2015, she remains one of the most respected and influential photographers of our time. Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment distills over fifty years of Mark’s experience and wisdom, providing photographers with a unique chance to learn from Mark’s astonishing life and career. The book was printed just before she passed away.

Paz Errázuriz: Survey
During the height of the Pinochet dictatorship in the 1970s, Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz was taking great risks to continue her work, which violated the regime’s strict regulations. She dared to visit brothels, psychiatric wards, and boxing clubs, where women weren’t welcome. In Paz Errázuriz: Survey, over 170 photographs by Errázuriz are compiled for the first time.

Sally Mann, Immediate Family
When Aperture first published Immediate Family in 1992, it was met with both acclaim and criticism. Though Mann’s extraordinary, intimate photos of her children caused an uproar among religious conservatives who deemed the work pornographic, the book has been lauded by critics as one of the great photography publications of our time.

Florence Henri: Mirror of the Avant-Garde, 1927–40
Florence Henri’s work occupied a central place in the world of avant-garde photography in the late 1920s, and Florence Henri: Mirror of the Avant-Garde pays homage to her essential but under recognized contribution. She remains an inspiration for photographers, artists, and design enthusiasts alike. 

An-My Lê, Events Ashore
An-My Lê’s Events Ashore is an exploration of the American military, a pursuit both personal and civic. “This work is as much about my perspective and personal history as a political refugee from Vietnam as it is about the vast geopolitical forces and conflicts that shape these landscapes.” With this body of work, Lê has assembled a visual narrative of that constitutes the American military experience—and influence.

Penelope Umbrico, Range
In Range, Umbrico examines the analog history of photography within the digital torrent that is its current technological manifestation. It is the latest iteration of Umbrico’s larger project Moving Mountains, in which the artist rephotographs a selection of canonical masters’ photographs of mountains—the oldest and seemingly most stable of subjects—with a variety of the newest smartphone camera apps.

Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: