Surfing, Skateboarding, Music, Photography, Travel, Culture and general antics of the youth on the run.

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.


WHAT YOUTH DRINKS: Sazerac An Evening Delight

Here’s a drink to reach for, the official cocktail from New Orleans: the Sazerac. With its ample bitters and sepia spirit, the drink is earthy and deep yet subtly sweet. While it’s served in an ice-cold glass, the unusually warm quality of rye whiskey gives me those fireside holiday vibes. It was made with absinthe…

What Youth Drinks: White Russian A Recipe Done Properly

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Radical Class: Some Weekend Reading A book about Australia (it’s that time again!) from an author we can’t get enough of

“Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn’t have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn’t…

Five Songs For Your Next Surf Clip Here’s “Wonderwall” or something or other.

You ever sit down to enjoy the latest web clip and start off thinking, “Hey, the surfing here isn’t terrible.” But then, oh let’s say thirty-seconds into everything, you change your tone. Something’s not quite right. Tilting your head to the side, you raise your eyebrows a bit and say to yourself, “But the music…

What Youth Eats: Open Fire Soup When the thermometer drops, cook outside! Here’s how.

When you get close to Christmas and New Years it’s too easy to sink in to the hole of your living room, stuffed from eating and drinking heavily since Thanksgiving and let the anxieties of 12-hour family days and new year’s expectations to start creeping in. So if that is what actually ended up happening…

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To quote maybe every other person right now, “it’s been quite a year, right?” So much emotion! So much drama! Never the less we’re here, hopefully gathering around a table with a bunch of family to reconnect, catch up, etc.. But as beautiful as the idea of family togetherness is, 10-12 extended family members sitting…

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Books we recommend for holiday break Spark up a fire and put some words through your mind for the holidays.

The next two weeks are an opportunity. A break. A moment to find clarity and inspiration. For most of us, in between the family gatherings and trips and travel and chaos there is a year wrapping up, and an opportunity to squeak in one or two more books to our count for the year. And believe…

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What Youth Drinks Building Blocks to a Great Cocktail

Did you know making cocktails is as easy as 1-2-3? Well, it can be with Booze-Acid-Sugar. In this brave new world of crazy ass cocktails, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all these circus dick concoctions. Artisanal aperitifs, flavored vodkas, and flair-full garnishes are all real fancy, but sometimes they cloud the basics. Because, when…

Radical Class: What Youth Reads Homage to Catalonia: a book seven decades young and still topical!

The Spaniards are good at many things, but not at making war. All foreigners are alike appalled by their inefficiency, above all their maddening unpunctuality. The one word that no foreigner can avoid learning is mañana.—George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia I bring books with me when I go on vacation for two reasons. One, I struggle…

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In a world full of chaos, absurdity, tragedy and Stranger Things, it’s always nice to find some larger perspective in a good old fashioned documentary. And the latest on writer Joan Didion is that. Few names have encouraged an entire generation of people and writers the way she has. And just a few minutes into the…

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I snagged a bottle of this Cocci Americano stuff after seeing it on the shelf at a cocktail bar in Long Beach, CA. It was an impromptu buy — I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, but thought I’d figure it out. Experiment! Cocktail jazz improvisation! While I’ll save the…

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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…

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