The best photo books of 2015 explore LGBTQ athletes, true love, and coffee.

From Coiffes to Coffee, the 10 Best Photo Books of 2015

From Coiffes to Coffee, the 10 Best Photo Books of 2015

The Photo Blog
Dec. 15 2015 11:32 AM

The 10 Best Photography Books of 2015

The Lovers
Yevgeniy and Lyubov Kissin. Married on June 29, 1941. Yevgeniy: “We met at a dancing party. It was in January 1938. My friend invited me to the party. He said there would be a lot of beautiful young girls. Another cadet with high boots had approached her, but she didn’t like high boots and so she said no to him. I was the second one to approach her. I had a different uniform, but I’m still not sure if it was my uniform or my face that attracted her to me.”

Lauren Fleishman

Most photographers will tell you how difficult it is to produce a book of their photography. Whether they’re looking for a publisher or turning toward crowdfunding—there’s still photo selection, editing, and promotion ahead of them. Each year, many of these extraordinary books cross our desks. Below are the 10 that stuck out to us the most in 2015. 

The Lovers by Lauren Fleishman (Schilt Publishing)

This is one of those books you open up and immediately get lost within its pages. Fleishman’s gorgeous photographs of couples that have been together more than 50 years will quickly pull you in; and then their words, edited from Fleishman’s interviews that are sweet, funny, and honest, will prevent you from putting it down. –David Rosenberg

Bikini Kill at St. Joseph’s Hall, 18th Avenue East, Oct. 20, 1991.

© Alice Wheeler/courtesy minor matters books and Greg Kucera Gallery


Outcasts & Innocents by Alice Wheeler (Minor Matters)

One of my favorite things to do is flip through my friends’ photo albums. I definitely felt as if I were looking through one of my cooler friend’s work when I went through Wheeler’s energetic look back at the Northwest music scene. The music and culture of that area from the 1990s to present day feels familiar and nostalgic; a collection from a friend who is also an incredible photographer. When I finished it, I was bummed I couldn’t grab a second album off her shelf. –David Rosenberg

The coiffe of Plouguenast; Special occasion costume, 1930.

Charles Fréger

Fréger is a very ambitious man. He spent three years documenting the coiffes (traditional lace headdresses) that were de rigueur for Breton women in the 19th century. The portraits are gorgeous—sometimes even humorous—and Fréger’s attention to detail throughout the book, including an illustrated history of each coiffe, is impressive. –David Rosenberg

Xavi Torres: “I saw him start to take his large prosthetic legs off and put them next to his chair and I realized it would make a great picture. But I was half a pool length away. … I didn’t quite make it in time for the start, but luckily for me there was a false start so they had to get out and line up again, which is when I got the shot.”

Bob Martin


1/1000th: The Sports Photography of Bob Martin by Bob Martin (Vision Sports Publishing)

I’m partial to sports photography. On a simple level it’s a sure thing: extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in extraordinary situations. There are plenty of photographs of professional and amateur athletes in Martin’s book that will make you ooh and aah. But what makes the book truly spectacular is what you’ll ask yourself over and over again as you flip through the pages: “How the hell did he get that shot?” –David Rosenberg

Mr. Malin from “Hollywood at Home.”

Aline Smithson

Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography by Aline Smithson (Magenta Foundation)

Can you leaf through a photographer’s book filled with portraits of other people and feel as if it’s her autobiography? Smithson’s first book covers nearly two decades of her work, which ranges from candid photographs of family and friends to formal portraiture influenced by fashion, a nod to old Hollywood and a series with her mother inspired by James McNeill Whistler. Smithson shows it’s possible to know someone by knowing their art. –David Rosenberg

From Eli Reed’s A Long Walk Home.

Eli Reed


A Long Walk Home by Eli Reed (University of Texas Press)

In peace and in war, in the United States and beyond, the Magnum photographer has been an essential voice for more than five decades. The more than 250 black-and-white images in this sprawling collection are a testament to the Magnum photographer’s unique eye and an often-moving slice of the last half century of human history. –Jordan Teicher

From Steve McCurry’s From These Hands.

Courtesy of Steve McCurry/Phaidon

From These Hands by Steve McCurry (Phaidon Press)

What could be a better addition to a coffee table than a book about coffee? McCurry’s photographs of small coffee farms around the world and the families who operate them illuminate the human element behind the the vast global industry, which, despite its complexities, is still built one bean at a time. –Jordan Teicher

From Petra Collins’ Babe.

Copyright Petra Collins


Babe, Petra Collins (Prestel)

If the young artists in Petra Collins’ anthology are any indication, the future of photography is bright. More than 30 female photographers share the spotlight here, and though their works are stylistically diverse, they share a common mission: to take control of their own narratives, by representing themselves and their generation how they see it. –Jordan Teicher

From Walker Evans: Depth of Field.

Courtesy of Prestel

Walkers Evans: Depth of Field by John T. Hill and Heinz Liesbrock (Prestel)

Walker Evans is one of the towering figures in the history of photography. This massive book, which traces his career from his earliest photographic experiments to his most well-known works, is an essential volume for any photography library. –Jordan Teicher

From Jeff Sheng’s Fearless: Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes.

Jeff Sheng

Fearless: Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes by Jeff Sheng (Somebody Books)

It’s been a banner year for gay rights in the United States, which makes the portraits of out and proud LGBT student athletes in Sheng’s book only more moving. –Jordan Teicher

David Rosenberg is the editor of Slate’s Behold blog. He has worked as a photo editor for 15 years and is a tennis junkie. Follow him on Twitter.

Jordan G. Teicher is the associate editor of Slates Behold blog. Follow him on Twitter.