First Book: Ben Huff

Posted in First Book by charlie b. ward on February 8, 2010

I have been going around to photographers asking them one question:

What was the first photo book that you can remember buying or seeing that really had a strong effect on you?

Here is Ben Huff’s response:

The Flame of Recognition, Edward Weston. I received this book, my first photo book,  from a coworker of my wife’s when I was just starting out. He knew something that I didn’t. I was naive, and my photographic vocabulary so limited – that book set me on my head. It redefined, for me, what photography could be. Shells, peppers, nude lovers, gas masks, Point Lobos, dead pelicans, trees, portraits – the portrait of Tina! The images, and words, were startling to me – gave more every time, and lingered long after I put the book down. The range of images within that book, teamed with Weston’s own words, which I would learn are from The Daybooks, spoke to a dedication and artistic evolution that intoxicated me. It encouraged me to keep looking – to see what else was out there.”


4 Responses

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  1. Christophe Collas said, on February 8, 2010 at 11:33 am

    The first book I remember I have bought is “Sans titre” (in french) by Diane Arbus. I found it on flea market. It is a very good quality printing. And the pictures are magnificent. They are in black and white of course and in square format. They represent people living in a kind of mental institution or something like that. Some are very poetic, some are rough but always respectful. We can feel the love of Arbus for these people trhough these pictures.

    It is still now my most beautiful book.

    Here is the cover :

  2. David Aschkenas said, on February 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    The first photo book that did it for me was Szarkowski’s LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS, about 1973. Just starting out, the brief text that accompanied each photo was extremely helpful in understanding what a photograph could be.

  3. hellomynameisart said, on February 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

    still to this day and boy is my copy looking ragged, American Prospects. My mom and dad bought it for me for Christmas for it topped my list and I still look at it all the time.

  4. Joe Zorn said, on February 9, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    the first book I remember getting was “new color/new work: eighteen photographic essays” put together by Sally Euclaire. it was given to me as Christmas present when it came out. I don’t think I quite knew what to think about at first but I know it made me see things differently over time.

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