Humans of New York is the brainchild of Brandon Stanton, who set out to create a photographic census of New York City. Originally a photo blog, the project now boasts its first eponymous printed collection of street portraits. The idea is simple: Stanton approaches strangers on the street, takes their photo, and occasionally asks them a question, like, “What was the happiest moment in your life?” Yet Humans of New York (St. Martin’s, $29.99) is more than a simple collection of snapshots. Even without captions, each photograph tells a short story and gives the viewer a glimpse into the life of a stranger. Taken together, these four-hundred arresting and inspiring street portraits form a celebration of humanity in all its diversity and quirkiness.
No matter how you feel about “heroin chic” or her personal life, there is little question that Kate Moss has had an unparalleled modeling career. Kate: The Kate Moss Book (Rizzoli, $85) is a comprehensive collection of images that spans two decades and includes never-before-seen photographs from Moss’s own archives. The close collaboration of Moss and her editors, three luminaries of the fashion world, Fabien Baron, Jess Hallett, and Jefferson Hack, has resulted in a book that is as beautiful as it is personal. A friend once said to me, “whatever Kate Moss is selling, I’m buying.” My recommendation? Follow my friend’s advice and buy this amazing book about a truly stunning woman.
A Richard Avedon portrait is instantly recognizable; as a fashion photographer and as a chronicler of political and cultural figures, he had few peers. Avedon: Murals & Portraits (Gagosian/Abrams, $100) centers on four gigantic works (from 20 to 35 feet wide) created between 1969 and 1971. Each is a charged subject: The Chicago Seven; the members of the Mission Council in Saigon—“the eleven men who ran the Vietnam War”; Andy Warhol and the film stars of his Factory; and the extended Allen Ginsberg family (including father, poet Louis Ginsberg). The oversize, beautifully produced catalog includes working prints, magazine layouts, contact prints, and four-paneled foldouts of the murals. Informative essays by historian Louis Menand, journalist William Shawcross, Corcoran curator Paul Roth, and Ginsberg authority Bob Rubin add vital contextual contributions, and photo-historian Mary Panzer’s essay, “State of Emergency,” immerses you in Avedon’s work in the 1960s and 1970s.