Photographer Ian Kenneth Bird shares his top photobooks

28 June 2017
Reading Time
2 minute read

London-based photographer Ian Kenneth Bird first came to our attention for his intimate portraits of the London skate scene he was a part of. Since then he’s had a plethora of high profile commissions, most recently McQ and Dior, brands which got in touch with Ian after seeing his first book Don’t Know What I Want But I Want It Now, Ian’s first book. The publication sees Ian document skaters over two years, capturing black and white portraits that portray the “air of confidence worn alongside cuts and bruises synonymous with skateboarding”.

We were keen to find out the inspiration behind Ian’s understated portraiture and his bookshelf doesn’t disappoint. With photobooks, first editions and zines, the photographer’s selections are eclectic but all tackle and dissect one subject in great detail.

Mark Steinmetz: Summertime

This has been one of my favourite photobooks since I first saw it in the rare book section of Leeds College of Art Library; it wasn’t until four years later that I managed to buy a copy. Shot between 1984 and 1991 Summertime is series of intimate black and white images falling somewhere between documentary and portraiture – every image in this book stands alone perfectly and was a big inspiration for my first publication Don’t Know What I Want But I Want It Now – shown here in its infancy.

Jim Goldberg: Raised by Wolves

Published in 1995 Raised by Wolves is an incredible a mixture of original photos, found imagery, handwritten notes and ephemera documenting the lives of teenage runaways in LA and San Francisco, it was recently reprinted but I managed to get a slightly damaged first edition from eBay that arrived in a pizza box – possibly the best documentary photobook ever.

Ed Templeton: Coming to Grips

This is a really simple 24-page zine published by Super Labo – amazing portraits and a brief glimpse of Ed’s ongoing series Wires Crossed, shot over the past 15 years.

Nobuyoshi Araki: Living Cats in Tokyo

Definitely one of Araki’s more accessible books – 151 pages of cats photographed in the streets of Tokyo, incredibly simple and beautifully designed.

David Horvitz: Sad, Depressed, People

David Horvitz is one of my favourite artists due to his process-based approach, often getting other people to take part in the creating or sharing of work. This book is entirely composed of stock imagery found when searching the tags “sad, depressed, people”. 

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About the Author

Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.

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