Photo Books: How Many Images?

I've been thinking about putting together a self published night photography book to use as a portfolio and to sell in conjunction with a print offer. One important question that I've struggled with is how many images are ideal for a fine art photography book? 20 to 30 prints seems right for a portfolio, and 50-60 images sounded like a good number for a book.

To stimulate some more thinking on the matter, I pulled 10 great photography books from the shelf, and took some notes. I was also interested in the layout, written material, and physical dimensions. But the main purpose was to pick 10 photo books I really dig, and see how many images are included:

  • Suburbia / Bill Owens. About 130 photos. Most on facing pages. 1 page intro only. 10.25" square
  • Lost America / Troy Paiva. About 125 photos. Most on facing pages. Stan Ridgway forward, author essays interspersed in chapters. 9" square
  • Slide Show / Helen Levitt. About 109 photos. Most on facing pages. No captions. Short 1 page forward by John Szarkowski. 9.5x9.0"
  • The Americans / Robert Frank. About 86 photos. Intro by Jack Kerouac. Captions at end. 9.5x8.5"
  • Bravo 20 / Richard Misrach. About 35 photos. First 50 pages are the story written by Myriam Weisang Misrach. Mix of single and facing pages. 9x12"
  • Occupied Territory / Lynne Cohen. About 75 photos. Mostly facing pages. Forward and short essay, and then images. 9x11.5"
  • American Prospects / Joel Sternfeld. About 53 photos. Short essays at beginning and end. 10x12"

Want to help with the research? Go to your bookshelves, pull out one of your favorites, and let me know the title and how many images are included. Thanks!

Subscribe