Seven Essential Photo Books for the Summer Ahead

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Summer Photo Books
Untitled, from Yoshi Kametani, I’ll Be Late (Void, 2024)© Yoshi Kametani. Courtesy of the artist and Void

From Juergen Teller’s baby-making myth to steamy reproductions of vintage porn, here are seven photo books to last you through the summer

Summer reading has a special sort of feeling. It promises discovery, adventure and pleasure – though whether it actually delivers all of that depends on what you choose (and how much time you spend by the pool). Some wonderful books have been published since we last felt the sun’s rays on our skin, and you need to make sure that you have them in your sweaty grip before autumn comes to claim us.

Below, find a mid-year reading list for your OOO summer self – as you are or as you wish to be.

I’ll Be Late by Yoshi Kametani (lead image)

A great book to kick back with is Yoshi Kametani’s sultry new collection of personal photographs taken in Brixton – pictures of friends eating, smoking, showering, playing cards and hanging out. With a penchant for experimentation, the artist has deconstructed his images into their CMYK elements, and then superimposed the layers, resulting in a tantalising take on the thresholds of memory. Every time you feel you might be edging towards some kind of truth, Kametani pulls it away again.

The Myth by Juergen Teller

Trying for a baby? Juergen Teller’s The Myth takes up the ol’ legs-in-the-air fertility trick-slash-myth, documenting the photographer’s wife in a series of nude performances in the charming rooms of the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni on Lake Como. It is a book of both style and substance, provoking surprising questions about the fragile mysteries of life, love and superstition. Teller. Forever.

Escapism by Roger Eberhard

Sipping on coffee has never felt like such a whirlwind adventure as it does in Escapism. In this sublime and transporting title, Roger Eberhard has reimagined the very Swiss tradition of coffee creamer lids, which picture all manner of exotic cliches and bucket list fantasies. Blown right up, these landscapes become strange and abstract, reminiscent of pointillist paintings and Pop. A shout-out to the reflective cover, which reminds us that seduction begins before page one.

Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, Volume II by Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi keeps on shining in this hotly-anticipated second volume of self-portraiture, in which the South African powerhouse expands their web of references and relations to recharge their manifesto on Black beauty and brilliance. The book boasts mesmerising metallic elements and lush printing that accentuates blacks so black they glow. Within themself, Muholi finds multitudes.

Toy by Jurgen Maelfeyt

A collection of vintage porn reproductions from the 1970s and 80s, Jurgen Maelfeyt’s lip-smacking, breath-stopping Toy is required reading at the beach. By way of the flashy reflections and foily crumples, it thrills with a kind of “touch-me” sensuality that drips from the page, and begs the question: how far can it withstand the sun, sand and sea?

Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins

Heads up: this is not a book to take to some impossible beach thousands of miles away. It is, however, the epitome of a coffee table book – part objet d’art, part photographic ode, part textual reflection. The Victorian botanist gets the Taschen treatment in this landmark reprint of her British Algae and Foreign Ferns, kitted out with a plush slipcase and golden spine. Anna Atkins is one of that celestial band of photographers whose images are instantly recognisable and perennially beautiful. Her own revolutionary act was to utterly change the ways in which we saw the world, and appreciate it.

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing Out Of Bed by Thomas Lélu

It might not be a “photo book” in the strict sense, but this much-hyped entry by the meme master Thomas Lélu taps into the power of imagery on the collective imagination. His compilation of proverbial profundities in blue ballpoint reads like a guide for surviving – and perhaps, God forbid, even thriving – in these spiritually vacuous times. Lelu is witty, biting, but never nihilistic. If there’s a motto to live by this season, it’s surely this: “LET’S TAKE PICS WE CAN NEVER POST.” And don’t forget: “HYDRATE. MEDITATE. MASTURBATE.”