Art Term

Photobook

The photobook is a book of photographs by a photographer that has an overarching theme or follows a storyline – a convenient and reasonably cheap way of disseminating the work of a photographer to a mass audience

August Sander, ‘The Woman of the Soil’ 1912, printed 1990
August Sander
The Woman of the Soil 1912, printed 1990
ARTIST ROOMS Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Lent by Anthony d'Offay 2010
© Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur - August Sander Archiv, Cologne; DACS, London, 2019.

Early photobooks were used to illustrate the work of individual photographers or a new type of photographic process. William Henry Fox Talbot published a photobook in 1844 called The Pencil of Nature in order to promote his calotype photographic process.

Over the years, photobooks have helped to establish the idea that a sequence of images represents a narrative in its own right. The German photographer August Sander published Face of Our Time, in 1929, part of his life-long project to create a comprehensive photographic index of the German population.

Today photobooks are crucial for financing and circulating modern photography enabling enthusiasts access to a wide range of photographers from across the world.

related terms and concepts

  • Photography

    Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of light ...

  • Documentary photography

    Documentary photography is a style of photography that provides a straightforward and accurate representation of people, places, objects and events ...

  • Conceptual photography

    Conceptual photography is photography that illustrates an idea

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selected artists in the collection

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photobooks at tate

  • Tate Modern

    Exhibition

    Conflict, Time, Photography

    26 Nov 2014 – 15 Mar 2015
    An exhibition exploring the relationship between photography and sites of conflict over time at Tate Modern, opens November 2014