The 15+ Best Photography Coffee Table Books For Aesthetes

While the basic concept of photography and the camera have been around for centuries, photography coffee table books placed in your house have been a thing only recently (the ’50s and the ’60’s). Photography began in the late 1830s with the first camera obscura and the developing process with daguerrotypes, wet plates, and dry plates. The camera and the editing process of the film changed through the years, with the creation of Kodak and a better developing system, the Polaroid and its instant film, and then the point-and-shoot cameras we all know and love as digital SLR cameras.

Best Photography Coffee Table Books

Now, we have books full of photographs (the better version of a scrapbook, you could say), but instead of one copy of an image, there’s thousands and thousands of copies. There’s so many different photographs that are captured and collected, and every book of photos fits the interests of any person.

There’s something about coffee table books that makes us drawn to them. There’s this look of it, sitting on your table, making a room feel so much more put together. Coffee table books are basically a genre within themselves and it’s the perfect gift for a bookworm. You can buy a a coffee table book for yourself or you can gift it to someone, but whatever the case, it’s for everyone. However you identify and whatever your interests are – art or travel or fashion or poetry or cars – there’s a book for you. 

The Best Photography Coffee Table Books

Beaches

Have you always wondered what a beach looks like from above? I’m talking about beaches you’ve never been to, the ones on the other side of the world with the bluest water and the most people on the sand. Beaches has got you covered, capturing overhead shots of Australia and Mexico and everywhere in between. So if you live in a beach town or your bathroom is beach themed or you just really love the sun and the sand and the ocean, this is the perfect book for you and your coffee table.

Studio 54

Studio 54 was 1977 nightclub full of celebrities, glamour and energy and Studio 54 shows just that: photographs from the luxurious and exclusive nights and even little blurbs from the co-owner of what it was like inside. This coffee table book is for the lovers of fame, fortune, and luxury, and for anyone who wants to feel like they’re a part of what was.

Somewhere In Nostalgia

Of all the best photography coffee table books we’ve collected here, this one is perhaps the most romantic. Drew Wilson is a Brooklyn-based photographer that rose to prominence on Tumblr. Drew is known for his romantic, often grainy, portraits of lovers throughout New York City. This photo book is a limited edition paperback and is a great addition to any coffee table book if you’re looking for a lighter book to display on your table.

The Art of Movement

There’s something about dance and how a person moves that can completely captivate a room, and if you have this book on your coffee table, your guests will be captivated too. This book celebrates the beauty and elegance of dance, from the American Ballet Theater, the New York City Ballet, and the Royal Ballet, and other prestigious ballet companies. Through portraits and action shots, it shows the professional dancers and their posed bodies or movements across a floor. If you’re an avid dancer or a lover of dance, The Art of Movement is for you.

Cabin Porn

Calling all wilderness explorers! Here’s some porn…cabin porn.

This book started off as a scrapbook for a group of guys who went on adventures to cabins in the forests of Upstate New York. Their collection of photos have inspired this book, as well as the audience who fell in love with these cabins in the woods. This book is a scrapbook…but better. It shows the locations, the architecture of the exterior, the interior design, and everything in between. Whoever picks up this photography book will feel invited to feel some sort of peace and some sort of urge to get away for a while. So if you’re reading this, take a breath and slow down from your busy life. Go off the grid for a while — this book will inspire you to do so.

The Imaginary World of Natalia Seth

If you were to shut your eyes and look into your unconscious mind, what would you see? Natalia Seth, a photographer and a multimedia artist, lets us dive into her imagination. With self-portraits and dreamy landscapes and with pops of color in the design and editing process, her art is unique. Her book is a collection of her photographs and a portrayal of how she has expanded her mind. This is the perfect photography book for your coffee table if you’re a lover of surrealism.

Escape

Maybe you need an escape from your every day life and looking at photos of potential travel destinations is the thing that keeps you going. If that’s the case, Escape is the perfect book for you. It’s a photography book full of stunning images of the ocean, the mountains, the desert, the city, and more. It’s a celebration of the world we live in. Travel lovers will drool over this book, I swear.

Ryan McGinley: Whistle for the Wind

It began in 2000 with Ryan McGinley, whose photos of the youth culture in New York were exhibited in a gallery in Soho and in a handmade book. A curator picked up his photo book and eventually, his work became admired by many. This photo book exudes so much energy and life and is a beautiful addition to any coffee table.

Luminescence

Sometimes we just feel like looking at pictures. Yeah, sure, that’s what Instagram is for. But what if you have guests over, and none of you want to sit on your phone and scroll through social media? It would be cool to have a hard cover version of an Instagram feed, minus the captions and the tags. Right? Let out your inner kid and enjoy this picture book. Brandon Woelfel has captured thousands and thousands of photos in his lifetime, but he’s hand-picked a little over 200 photographs and put them together in this collection. It’s a magical book to put on display.

Bad Girls Throughout History

This is for the women, for the feminists, for the empowered and the empowering. There are so many women in the past who have made history, as writers, women’s rights activists, computer programmers, artists, and more. Bad Girls Throughout History is full of illustrations and a little blurb about who they are and what they’ve done: from Cleopatra, to Queen Elizabeth I, to Sojourner Truth, to Harriet Tubman, to Oprah, to Malala Yousafzai, and so many more.

Los Angeles 

Los Angeles has transformed itself through the years. Los Angeles: Portrait Of A City is a tribute to the memories and moments in history in LA from the 1880’s to the late 20th century. There’s a lot going in this transformation book, with pop culture, music, health, politics, gangs and criminals, and the rest of the good and the rest of the bad. If you’re a lover of the notorious City of Angels, this book is for you.

Hubble: Imaging Space and Time

If you’re a sucker for some incredible and astonishing images of space captured by the Hubble Scape Telescope, this is the book for you. I’m talking detailed images of galaxies, large galaxies consuming small galaxies, nebulae, the birth and death of stars, maybe even some black holes… these high-quality images are spectacularly detailed and coming at full volume. This book illuminates the depth of the universe and allows us to dive into its inner workings and mysteries, all while we sit in the comfort of our living room.

Paris In Color

The best photography coffee table book for those who love Paris. You’ll be captivated by Paris, just by looking at these colored images in this book. Si vous aimez Paris, ce livre est pour vous.

Chanel: Collections and Creations

Fashion lovers know the big names who have transformed the culture of fashion, jewelry, and beauty – Coco Chanel being one of the most influential. This Chanel book collection shows the threads and trends from past to present. With the photos and blurbs of detailed information of how Chanel came to be and how the products came to be, it explores fashion, jewelry, fragrance, and makeup. Chanel’s fame is long-lasting and anyone who is remotely into fashion needs this in their home. Just like Coco Chanel and the brand, it’s magical.

Photography: The Definitive Visual History

At the very least, Photography: The Definitive Visual History is a picture book. Over the last 200 years, there have been prominent photographers and photographs that have made history. This book tributes the evolution of the camera and photography in general, along with some of the greatest photographers and the stories behind their images. A picture book for the picture lovers? Amazing! It’s a must-read. A must. A need.

Overview: A New Perspective of Earth

Inspired by a sensation called the “Overview Effect” that astronauts get when looking at the Earth from above, this photo book is the perfect way to zoom out and see the big picture. A wide range of overhead photographs capture the land we know best but from a different perspective. With it’s picturesque views, Overview: A New Perspective of Earth, will be an eye-catcher on any coffee table and leave you remembering the beautiful parts of our world.

Apollo: VII-XVII

July 20th, 1969 is a date that shifted the beyond-our-reach enchantment of our galaxy into something tangible. 50 years later, that wonder still holds true and lives within the pages of this book, Apollo: VII-XVII, as we celebrate the first manned moon landing. Peer into the beauty of beyond with these images pulled from NASA’s archives.

Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures

Flip through the adventures of Steve McCurry, an American photojournalist, in the book, Steve McCurry: A Life in Pictures. Written and compiled by his sister Bonnie, this collection of images puts McCurry’s groundbreaking work on display for all to see. From shots of the devastating war in Afghanistan to shots of the destruction that 9/11 caused our own country, and many other journeys in between, this book captures it all and it’s images will capture you.

Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America’s Wild Places

Ansel Adams was known to be one of America’s most legendary photographers and environmentalists. In the book, Ansel Adams in the National Parks, his stunning black and white photos have been perfectly curated to display the parks Adams loved and protected.

Humans of New York

Bring the bustle of New York City into your life with the warm photos and stories of the people that fill its streets. Humans of New York is a well known photo book that ties together snapshots and accounts of random people photographer Brandon Stanton met on the street. The portraits inside are of people just like us, each with their own unique story that will captivate your heart and keep you intrigued.

National Geographic The Covers

This book holds an array of all the notable National Geographic covers that have sat on the magazine racks of grocery stores and newsstands, catching our attention for as long as we can remember. There’s no denying that the photographers of this famed magazine, have captured some pretty remarkable images. With their vibrant colors and bold headlines, National Geographic The Covers is a great piece for your coffee table.

Vivian Maier: The Color Work

Vivian Maier was a signified girl boss. She worked full time as a nanny for the majority of her life while pursuing photography in her spare time. Her photographs grew to be famous only after she passed but now they have been exhibited all around the world. Vivian Maier: The Color Work displays some of her liveliest street photos of the colorful people and places of the world painted around her.

New York City in Bloom

There’s not a more perfect combo than the inspiring city of New York and the beauty that comes from spring. New York City in Bloom hits you with lovely images that blossom off of the pages. Bring some light and color to your coffee table by letting this one flourish in your midst.

Thank you for reading! What do you think the best photography coffee table books are out there? Feel free to email us at hello@shopcatalog.com with your photography book recommendations.