Jacob Riis Bonnie Yochelson

Jacob Riis (1849-1914) is known first and foremost as a social reformer rather than as a photographer per se. He became aware of the terrible conditions under which immigrants to the United States were forced to live while he was working as a police reporter for the New York Tribune. His experiences convinced him to devote his life to social reform. Riis was very aware of the new technology of photography and its ability to persuade and to mobilize public opinion. He employed it not for artistic ends, but as a powerful support for his campaign to alleviate poverty and clear New York of its slums. His highly influential book How the Other Half Lives (1890), which is still in print today, was the first book of its kind to be illustrated with photographs.

Photography is the visual medium of the modern world. It pervades our lives and shapes our perceptions. 55 is an ongoing series of beautifully produced, pocket-sized books that explore all aspects and styles of photography. They celebrate the world's most important photographers from the spheres of art, photojournalism, science, street photography, fashion photography and travel photography.

Each volume of 128 pages focuses on an individual master's life work and its development. It features 55 of their key works presented chronologically with an accessible introduction and critical commentaries, telling both the photographer's story and the story of the world that shaped their views.

At specially low prices, 55 paperbacks offer an irresistible look at modern life from some of the greatest ever photographers.

Specifications:

  • Format: Paperback
  • Size: 156 × 136 mm (6 1/8 × 5 3/8 in)
  • Pages: 128 pp
  • Illustrations: 55 illustrations
  • ISBN: 9780714840345

Bonnie Yochelson is a former Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Museum of the City of New York, where she supervised the cataloguing and printing of the Riis collections. She is completing an interdisciplinary study on Riis with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

'Elegantly designed, beautifully printed ... and sensitively laid out ... the choice of images is irreproachable ... Even if the series were to stop dead right now, it would already merit an honourable mention in publishing history ... the temptation to keep on collecting the whole set will no doubt afflict many.' (Independent)

'Phaidon 55s are handsome, pocket-sized editions with - you guessed it - 55 key works of one of the 20th century's iconic photographers. And because they cost just £4.95, the idea is you can take them - and even leave them - anywhere: on the table in the coffee shop, or poking suggestively out of your corduroy jacket pocket.' (Financial Times)

'The books are aimed beyond the 'photography buff' to a wider audience. Photography fans won't be disappointed, though: each book contains 55 images, so there's space to include lesser-known gems among the classic.' (Independent on Sunday)