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Radical Class: 11 Photo Books You Need With Photographer Darren Ankenman

Darren Ankenman was originally a documentary filmmaker. But then while following the band The Black Crows around he realized there was a lot of interesting things happening around him — like hanging with Jimmy page and watching, Chris the lead singer of the band date Kate Hudson. He had the epiphany that he needed to document this. And it needed to be photographed.

During this time he transitioned away from filmmaking and moved more toward photography. Ankenman is now a world renowned photographer and he shoots oddities from his travels, beautiful girls, celebrities,  and everything else interesting.

We recently caught up with Darren at his house in Los Angeles and he showed us all of his prized possessions: cameras, darkroom prints, old portfolios and his 11 favorite photo books.

*A video feature with Darren is coming soon to Also, keep your eyes peeled for What Youth issue 11 for more of Darren’s work. 


1. A Man with a Camera by Nestor Almendros

Almendros was an amazing natural light cinematographer. In this book, he talks about the approach he took in shooting each of his films. He would often confuse the grip and electric technicians by not using them at all. He shot two of my favorite films by Eric Rohmer — Claire’s Knee and La Collectionneuse.


2. Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson often worked with non-actors and he called them “models.” His films were often shot on normal 50mm lenses with amazing results.   This little book is filled with his notes & thoughts as they pertain to cinematography and getting something that feels real.


3. New York by William Klein

Nothing touches this book. It’s so good. Inspired many of the photographers of the Japanese Provoke Era.  Klein shot everything here from 1954-1955 — just him and a 35mm rangefinder and black & white film.   Incredible early work by a guy who did it all…street, fashion, films.

Dance in Brooklyn, New York, 1955tate-1

4. An Italian Summer by Claude Nori

This French photographer really has a great real life touch. Nori’s personality shines through each photo, and this book makes me want to be in Italy whenever I look at it. Nori founded Contrejour which published many great photography books through the years.


5. Foto & Copyright by G.P. Fieret

Fieret was a photographer from the Netherlands. His work is very gritty and personal. He stamps and writes on the surface of each photo. The images in this book flow from street to self portraits to nude studies. His printing technique is so raw and unique. Puts himself in a category of other outsider artists like Miroslav Tichy.


6. I, Will McBride by Will McBride

Any of McBride’s books are worth checking out. I, Will McBride is a comprehensive look at his life’s work and artistic journey as a photographer. It’s great to see because his real life had so many twists and turns — love, sex, marriage, children, divorce, controversy, hunger, success — yet he maintained consistently brilliant work during the peaks and valleys. McBride shifted between so many different subjects (politics, street, travel, sex, nudes) with a strong personal voice/style. He often shot for the highly influential European magazine Twen. These days, he’s alive and focused on painting.


7. Japanese Photo Books of the ’60s and ’70s by Kaneko & Vartanian

This book is an invaluable resource of talent and inspiration. The focus is on the Japanese Provoke Era of photography. This group of photographers aimed to break the rules of traditional photography. What’s great about this book is that it gives a great visual overview of many brilliant masters including Daido Moriyama, Eikoh Hosoe, Kishin Shinoyama, Hajime Sawatari and Nobuyoshi Araki to name a few.


8. In and Out of Fashion by Viviane Sassen

Sassen is so beautiful and so unique. She has an amazing approach to portraits & fashion. I see photographers try to copy her voice, and they always fall short. All of her books are amazing.


9. Hi you are beautiful how are you by Valerie Phillips

Phillips is great for many reasons. I like that she puts out small books frequently. Her focus is typically on young girls and youth culture. She always finds real characters and portrays real life. Each book is a portrait and offers a slice of the subject’s life.


10. Luigi Ghirri: Project Prints by Luigi Ghirri

Ghirri was an Italian photographer and he often shot with Kodachrome film. For me, he’s kind of an Italian William Eggleston. The colors, feeling, and compositions are uniquely his. Any of his books are worth picking up. Sadly, Kodachrome himself is dead and gone.


11. This Side of Paradise: Fragments of an Unfinished Biography by Jonas Mekas

This is a special book that is tied to a really beautiful film. Just after JFK was assassinated, Andy Warhol suggested that Jonas Mekas and Peter Beard spend a summer with Jackie Onassis, her sister Lee Radziwell and their kids. The film is a beautiful blend of asynchronous Super 8mm and Reg 8mm and natural sounds recorded separately.  You can find it here.


Radical Class, Berlin, Adam Warren

Radical Class: Hope from the Road Just when you thought it was all over: there is Berlin  

Turns out there is still hope out there. Out there, beyond your day-to-day, somewhere out on the road its not all politics, hurricanes, bad vibes and bad memes. In fact, the other day I found myself way outside the bad lands somewhere in Berlin. Just off the plane I walked around the Mitte District. I meandered…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: AGUACHILE Another Raw One: Sinaloa Spicy Shrimp

If you’ve been following along, you know that we’ve gone raw at for the last few weeks. We’ve played with raw tuna a couple different ways (here and here), and got fancy and fresh with a raw beef tartare last week. It’s been fun, delicious, and the whole experiment has opened up our late…

what youth eats, raw, radical class, paul brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW BEEF The latest in our Raw Series: Steak tartare is the primest of the prime.

For the last few weeks we’ve gone raw. We’re doing it all for the flavor — an exercise to experience great ingredients at their root essence, with a secondary win of less time cooking and more time having summertime fun outside (making raw things takes less time, duh). So far we’ve focused on fish and…

Tuna Don, Adam Warren, What Youth Eats

WY EATS: Spicy Tuna Don Another hit from our RAW series — best washed down with ice cold Kirin

Its time to expand on our RAW capabilities here. And just like the Mediterranean version of the albacore crudo that you’ve already mastered, we are leaning on our Japanese influence of raw efficiencies for our next dish: The Spicy Tuna Don. “Don” is short for “donburi” which is a traditional Japanese dish where any number…

what youth guide to the bar

WY Guide: The Bartender Getting a drink in a crowded bar is an art. Here’s your paint set.

As Shane Dorian famously said in Loose Change: “What’s your poison man?” That ageless, sometimes slightly altered greeting has been heard by bar patrons since the first bar opened circa 900 AD. And after 1100 years of human interaction at these establishments one would hope there would be some orderly and respectful manner one might…

WHAT YOUTH EATS: RAW The first in a Series: Albacore Crudo

For the next couple of weeks, I’m going raw. This isn’t some nonsense trendy food fad out of Beverly Hills: this is all about efficiency and simplicity. Efficiency because eating raw means less time in the kitchen and more time outside shredding through summer. Simplicity because I won’t have to develop complex sauces and spend…

what youth dead writers shirt

The WY Dead Writers T-Shirt Before it’s gone here’s why it exists

We still read…actual books even. And while a lot of our favorite writers are long gone, their influence is still smothering us. They’ve left us with piles and piles of great reading, insight, fucked up situations, and maniacal living to read about. This shirt is an ode to them. Here’s a run through who they…

what youth drinks tequila

What Youth Drinks: The Paloma Cuz it’s just so damn hot outside

It’s officially summer now. And since we’ve already taught you how to order a margarita the right way here, now it’s time to learn how to make the G of all tequila cocktails best drank in the sun: The Paloma. If the margarita is the popular girl in high school that everyone knows, then the Paloma…

Radical Class, What Youth Eats

What Youth Eats: Huevos Rancheros Your weekend mornings are now better

Huevos Rancheros hold a special place down deep in my gut. Growing up, when dad wasn’t at work on weekend mornings, we’d wake up early to surf the Cliffs, then he’d take me to Georges Mexican Food right by our house in Huntington Beach for breakfast. Every time the order was the same: two orders…

What Youth, Radical Class, Paul Brewer

WHAT YOUTH EATS: WITHOUT RECIPES Try this, then go rip into it

Learning to cook and make cocktails is a funny process. We read cookbooks, we watch TV shows, maybe we try a recipe or two from For the most part, we get set up with a list of instructions, and we’re expected to follow it closely or else it will be ruined. That’s a process that’s…

what youth eats our veggies

WHAT YOUTH EATS: OUR VEGGIES Skip the Meat with Grilled Mushroom Risotto

You’re eating your veggies, right? For those of you who just need meat with your meals, may I offer mushrooms instead. Here, the mushrooms are grilled to give a deeper, nuttier flavor, and combined with creamy rich risotto. Once you get the hang of risotto, it can be a quick dinner. Until you get the hang of…

what youth memorial day

Radical Class: On Memorial Day Celebrating and Remembering in Equal Parts

These days, Memorial Day is all about burgers and beers, beach days and maybe some deeply discounted retail shopping. But, of course, it isn’t. It’s about war and the people who fought in them — namely the Civil War, where 620,000 Americans died. Where today’s Memorial Day is little more than an excuse to party…

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