Phaidon has a great series of introductory monographs that they call the New-Format 55s. Each contains 55 of the most important images from a photographer’s oeuvre, arranged in chronological order with a brief description or history, preceded by an introductory essay by a notable critic or photo historian.
The subjects of these monographs vary across fields and eras—the series includes greats such as Alfred Stieglitz and Dorothea Lange along with Nan Goldin and Meyerowitz. Whether it’s someone you’re already familiar with or someone whom you’re barely acquainted with, the 55s tend to give you a pretty solid overview with all the major accomplishments alongside the ups and downs of the photographer’s life.
I was glad to see that one of their latest is Martine Franck. It’s a timely release, given that there have recently been several events to commemorate Magnum Photos’ 60th Anniversary—Martine Franck was one of the first four women photographers to join the agency and is perhaps one of its most accomplished female photojournalists, and her husband, Henri Cartier-Bresson, was one of Magnum’s founding members.