Photo Books by Groundbreaking Black Photographers

Aperture’s new list of photo books comprises 11 titles by Black photographers who rethink, reimagine and reframe “what history is all about.” Each of the photographers featured within these books challenged systems of power, clarified history or re-contextualized beauty. Included in the list are esteemed and under-recognized artists, from Tyler Mitchell (the first Black photographer to shoot a cover story for Vogue) to Kwame Brathwaite, whose photos popularized the slogan “Black is Beautiful.” There are many meaningful works that explore countless facets of identity. Perhaps the most significant is To Make Their Own Way in the World, “a profound consideration of some of the most challenging images in the history of photography,” which incorporates daguerrotypes of people who were enslaved—Alfred, Delia, Drana, Fassena, Jack, Jem and Renty—alongside essays that analyze the relationship between photography and race and how these photos have been used to bolster pseudo-scientific racism today. Learn more about this volume and the rest of these arresting photo books at Aperture.

Image is Tyler Mitchell, “Untitled (Twins II),” New York (2017) from The New Black Vanguard; courtesy of the artist