This year saw the release of an abundance of great photography books. Oliver Atwell looks at six of the best

Need some great Christmas gift ideas for under £50. Here are what we think are the best photo books of 2012…

Koudelka GypsiesKoudelka Gypsies

Thames & Hudson
£48

Once in a while, a collection of images appears from a major photographer that is so powerful it almost beggars belief that you haven’t seen it before.

Koudelka’s images of Eastern European gypsies, taken between 1962 and 1971, are infected with such a humanity that it can be almost overwhelming at first to attempt to absorb it all.

The stark monochrome images, beautifully reproduced here, are the kind that stay in the mind’s eye for a long time.

MagnumMagnum Revolution

Prestel
£35

Magnum has always been on the frontline of photojournalism and this excellent book reminds us all why the agency is still considered such a force in photography.

The pages are littered with powerful and iconic images, ranging from 1956 right up to the present day.

All have one thing in common: they communicate the idea of uprising and revolution. The photographs are at once inspiring and moving, making this a vital collector’s piece for
any bookshelf.

Richmond ParkRichmond Park

Antique Collectors Club
£25

When we first interviewed amateur wildlife photographer Alex Saberi back in July 2011, it was clear that he was a photographer with his own distinct style and vision.

Alex’s ethereal, fairy-tale-like images are a real wonder. His grasp of light, location and atmosphere make these photographs ones that border on the unique.

Richmond Park is an oft-photographed location, but Alex has succeeded in drawing out elements of the area that have somehow managed to evade many an image-maker before him. And that’s a sign of a seriously good photographer.

Sea ChangeSea Change

Kehrer Verlag
£30

Right from the first pair of images, it is clear that this will be no ordinary tour of Britain’s beaches, shores and estuaries.

Michael Marten’s images (more specifically diptychs) show every location in low tide and high tide.

The point? To demonstrate that the landscapes we take for granted are ever-shifting interplays of light and composition. An area that at one point is a dull, flat wasteland is just a few hours later a beautiful golden landscape. Two moments in time reveal two states of nature. A genuinely fascinating take on the landscape photography genre.

Beautiful BritainBeautiful Britain

Prestel
£24.99

Human life is an event full of idiosyncrasies and absurdities, and some would argue that the British are experts when it comes to laying it on heavy with eccentricities.

Iain McKell’s fantastically funny and, at times, moving book sees the fearless photographer absorbing himself in the tribes and scenes that met him every step of the way on his journey to document this strange island.

It’s clear that Iain’s project is one driven by love and empathy, and that’s what makes it all the more compelling.

Easily one of the best books of 2012.

CompositionComposition

AVA Publishing
£23.50

Composition is one of those topics that has surely been done to death. But in the hands of David Präkel, the subject expands its scope in new and fascinating directions.

Präkel’s engaging and knowledgeable text sits perfectly alongside the consistently beautiful imagery. The fairest comparison would be to place this book alongside any of Michael Freeman’s equally vital publications, and that is high praise indeed.

If you’re looking for a jolt of inspiration, this is the perfect book for you.