Picture books that change our view of urban spaces

1 Macadam Color Street PhotoBy Jean-Christophe Béchet

Jean-Christophe Béchet is a big name in French street photography. In his paintings, the cities of the world appear from an original angle, unshakable with truth. The city, in its brutality and irony, is thus at the heart of this work which emphasizes issues of housing, coexistence and the renewal of urban spaces.

For Jean-Christophe Bechet, street photography has long been associated with reportage, but has now become an independent genre specific to photographic culture. Portraits, landscapes, nudes, still lifes… all come from painting. As for reporting, it also exists in video, cinema or radio. But street exploration only really exists in photography.

Three in-depth interviews with Michel Povert, Jean-Luc Monterso and Sylvie Hughes Macadam Color Street Photo, journey to discover the city of photographers. They are an opportunity to reflect on the specificity of this practice, to question its nature, to see what it can play and to try to define certain contours. What emerges is that unlike great reporters and fashion photographers, the street photographer is not aided by the strength of his subject. All the interest in his photography then comes from his art of framing, his speed of action, his numbness, his reading of light. And also, of course, his vision of the world. But, above all, a good street photographer knows how to see the city, understand the political and social issues that cross it, as well as its own aesthetics. Jean-Christophe Béchet thus depicts cities without flinching, while urban life is strongly questioned.


In the book, the city that Bechet elevates to the highest place and is undoubtedly his native Marseille; Powerful, brilliant, tragic and comic at the same time, the city of Marseille is magnified in love-filled clichés. Because in many ways, Marseille is a city of the future, where nature and urbanism meet and converse, where people are put at the center and where coexisting differences create the beauty of the city’s streets.

Macadam Color Street PhotoBy Jean-Christophe Béchet, Loco, 192 pages, €45.

2 View of Greater Paris

Photographic book View of Greater Paris It is the result of a commission by Atelier Medicis and the National Center for Plastic Arts that has been exhibiting artistic talent since 2016 that speaks to the evolution of the Paris region. The commission aimed to evoke a sensitive, versatile and offbeat scene in a region in complete transformation, inviting artists to tell their stories and their perceptions of the changes in Greater Paris.

Halfway through this order, View of Greater Paris Bringing together, in the first volume, 35 projects carried out over five years, which he exhibits in various ways and elaborates in collaboration with artists. Aurore Bagari thus follows the course of water in the Paris basin and detects traces left by ancient oceans; Raffaele Dallaporta flies over greater Paris from the top of the Control and Telecommunications Tower; Karim photographed the neglected landscape along the RER D last night; Lucy Jean shares the swimmers’ last leisurely moments in a lake set to become the site of the Olympic Games; Marion Poussier meets people who “bus” the quays of the Canal Saint-Denis; And Anne-Lise Seusse, for her part, follows the movement of objects in the wake of biffins.


The book is accompanied by writing by Magali Nachtergel, who takes a unique look at each project. Other authors invited to the pages of this book are: Romain Bertrand, Mariem Chabani, Emmanuelle Coquia, Kouthar Harchi, Frédéric Ait-Touati, Alexandra Arens and Axel Grégoire.

The book gives pride of place to greater Paris, a region whose photographers highlight the shadows and highlights of light and the diversity of identities and perspectives they create. A large photographic project that focuses on those who live in this rapidly changing space and observes its fascinating changes, multiple identities, urban and cultural evolution.

View of Greater Paris, Collected, Text, 272 p. €45.

3 Arbex Worldby Jonk

In this book, published in March 2022, anonymous photographer Junk offers an extraordinary urban journey through places of dilapidated industrial beauty. The photographer thus, without permission, explores abandoned urban buildings and immortalizes their strange and disturbing beauty. Former spectral prisons, abandoned castles and palaces, factories and even the ancient forbidden city of Chernobyl: Junk explored the city in a different way, thinking about what happens when men leave their environment.


A raw and poetic reflection of urban ruins, these remains will likely tell our story to future generations. The practice of Arbex, the exploration of the phantom regions of our cities, is extensively discussed in this book which is a perfect illustration of this.

In this travel book, the photographer thus examines the process of abandonment and rebirth of the afterlife, when nature takes over these symbols and regains its hold over urbanity.

Arbex WorldBy Jonk, Arthaud, 167 pages, €21.

4 fake cityBy Yohanne Lamoulere

In this book, urban photographer Yohanne Lamoulère explores and pays homage to his city of Marseille. Now a privileged destination for emigration from the capital, considered a city to start a new lifestyle, more humane and closer to nature, Marseille is the subject of thousands of fantasies.

However, the city that is changing its face is also a victim of this uncontrolled gentrification that makes social problems invisible. As if, to escape the stereotypes propagated by the media for decades, newcomers must ignore the urban realities in which they find themselves.

Since 2009, Yohanne Lamoulère has tracked the city’s catastrophes, depicted its catastrophes, and dismantled its representations in order to better reinvent them with those who live there. Observational results from this decade False BorgsA sensitive and intuitive book, which describes the evolution of Marseille and its inhabitants, who are its soul and heart.

©Yohann Lamoulere/Le Bec en l’Air

The photographer then explores the outlying districts – which for him are the vibrant heart of the city -, youth, self-image and the identity link that one maintains with one’s territory. “Something here is painted with poetic delicacy, by those who know what they are painting.”The publishing house Le Bec en l’air explained.

With text by Nicolas Dutant and Alessi Dell’Umbria, the book captures the city’s unique strengths, exploring “The Troubled World” Where dreams and new possibilities are born.

fake cityBy Yohanne Lamoulère, Le Bec en l’air, 128 p., €35.

5 Great book on urban photographyBy Tim Cornbill

To round off this selection, here’s a practical and complete guide to photographing cities. inside The Big Book of Urban Photography, Tim Cornbill actually shares his passion for the world’s cities. The photographer reveals his knowledge and techniques used by some of the best photographers to capture urban environments: Brassai, Martin Parr and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The possible photographic practices are numerous: street photography, portraits, urban landscapes or night landscapes. Inexhaustible photographic subject, infinite source of inspiration and playground, the city thus offers thousands of possibilities of light, color, framing and space – which everyone can interpret according to the way they see the world.

With this book, the Dunod edition therefore offers everyone the possibility to photograph the city differently. In this peregrination, the author takes us to Barcelona, ​​Berlin, Birmingham, Dubai, New York, Paris and invites us to survey them with camera in hand ready to perceive their evolution and characteristics.

The Big Book of Urban Photography, by Tim Cornbill, Duned, 192 p. €29.

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