Photographer Dan Wilton on his most-loved books

14 January 2016

London-based photographer Dan Wilton’s fascination with people has lead to some incredible projects over the years. Whether he’s capturing the characters at the top of LA’s Runyon Canyon, the quirks of Tokyo during Halloween or exploring the golden age of porn, Dan manages to extract the most interesting moments and stories from his subjects and their surroundings. The self-taught photographer’s love for image is abundantly clear throughout his Bookshelf selections. From a book about apes to the infidelity of married men, a diverse range of topics are covered but at the core of all of these books is the photographers’ desire to explore subject matter in a different way.

Arnold Odermatt: On Duty

A recent purchase and the best book I’ve bought for a long time. Arnold Odermatt was a traffic policeman in the Swiss Nidwalden valleys. Concerned with the lack of new recruits, he made it his mission to photograph the camaraderie of his troop using his fellow policemen as models and recreating their adventures. There’s a sense of humour and warmth that jumps from every page, it’s such a joyous book. Arnold’s my new hero.

James Mollison: James & Other Apes

The first photo book I ever bought and one that really piqued my interest in photography. It’s so simple and so powerful. You can flick through it in seconds and its message hits you through the animals’ innate personalities. Luckily I kept hold of it all these years as I had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside James last year at The Photographers’ Gallery, where he signed it for me. A true fan boy moment. 

Magnum: Contact Sheets

There’s always been a part of me that wishes I’d assisted, to see firsthand how other photographers work and approach their subjects. It’s a little too late for me to start assisting now though, so instead I’ve got a pile of books that examine photographers’ working practices. This is the best of the bunch – it takes a peek at how some of my favourite photographers like Martin Parr and Alec Soth craft their work.

Alec Soth: LBM Dispatch #7: Georgia

Alec Soth is unquestionably brilliant. His work is of unparalleled depth and honesty. It’s tough to pick a favourite book of his, but I particularly like his LBM Dispatch series, shot on the road with writer Brad Zeller. I’m still on the hunt for a copy of Sleeping by the Mississippi, so if anyone wants to give me an early birthday present?

Natasha Caruana: Married Man

A brutal slap-to-the-face of a book. Natasha spent a year meeting married men from dating sites and then secretly documented their tragically depressing dates. It perfectly captures the desperation and loneliness of the men in their infidelity. I can’t even begin to imagine how she shot it.

Cafe Royal Books: Assorted

With my own personal projects, I sometimes get hung up on finding that subject – the weighty one for the coffee table book. This collection from Cafe Royal Books is a great reminder that photobooks don’t need to be huge hulking hardbacks. There’s power in zines and their simplicity, from capturing a humble turkey market in the early 90s to opening your eyes to the parallel space dimension hidden in your carpet.

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About the Author

Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca Fulleylove is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and culture. She is also senior writer at Creative Review, having previously worked at Elephant, Google Arts & Culture, and It’s Nice That.

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