Coffee Table Books: Get Your Name and Photos on a Book Cover

There is something unique and wonderful about photography. There isn’t a person in the world that could not use it to their advantage. In art, journalism, architecture, archaeology, anthropology, geology, wildlife, education, medicine, engineering--you name it.

I’ve never met an unhappy photographer. But just as surely, they share the same fantasy. A photo book with their name on the cover. And why not?

To photographers, a photo book is a giant business card, a statement, an ego trip. It’s also a piece of their souls and brains that sits proudly on coffee tables and survives their creators on libraries’ shelves.

While some photographers earn six- or seven-figure incomes photographing luxury cars, celebrities, and fashion, they usually get help from various professionals to shoot these subjects, so they don’t always have the prestige of seeing their own name on their work. They must also follow their clients’ plans and instructions. And, their photos are usually cases of instant gratification…soon forgotten.

When a photographer sets out to do a coffee table book, no one tells her what to photograph and how, or when to deliver the results. She’s now the boss. It’s her idea. It’s her time and money. It’s a labor of love. She’s a god to her book.

My first photo book, Aborigines of the Amazon: the Yanomami, was published in 1982 by Time-Life Books. I enjoyed every minute of the month I spent among those wonderful people, who confirmed in my mind, as if I still needed such confirmation, how incredibly similar humanity is everywhere.

I then went on to publish 16 more coffee table books, and now have a total of 17 published with my name on them. Each one has a special place in my heart and on my book shelf at home, acting as a constant reminder of the amazing people and sceneries I had the pleasure to capture.

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[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]