Few books have shaken up and influenced the street photography world like Robert Frank’s The Americans has. Fifty-seven years after its initial publishing, the book still is referenced heavily to this very day when discussing the advancement of photography and the genre of street. But The Americans is criticized and analyzed as much as it is praised. Rightfully so, considering it is such an iconic work. But is there a point where a landmark like The Americans starts to fade away as the landscape of photography itself changes? As street photography becomes more popular and diluted? As it becomes, dare I say, less “special”?
Those questions were part of the reason why I wanted to own The Americans for myself. That and because it almost seemed mandatory. Because it’s cited so often in the street photography world, I felt like I had to own it. That a photography library, no matter what size, could only be built around this cornerstone. The only other book that I can think of to bear such a heavy load would be Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment. But, at close to $90 USD for its latest edition, that piece would have to wait. At under $25 new, The Americans, now in its ninth edition, demanded to be purchased, and sooner rather than later. Questions needed answers.