For photojournalists and documentary photographers of a certain generation Robert Frank and his book, The Americans, published in 1958, was the epiphany and sent many of us out on the road with our cameras. I got my first copy as a gift from a friend in 1983. It is always close by and never fails to inspire.
A recent NPR article calls this book the one that changed photography.
…at least in America anyway. Franks style of photography, more common in Europe, and choice of subjects was ” not done ” in the USA at the time and challenged contemporary American society to look at its less pretty side. A different view of “The American dream.” Such a photographic reflection had not been seen since the depression era photography by Dorthea Lange, Walker Evans and the other Farm Securities Administration photographers.
Another insightful look at Franks work is at the US National Gallery of Art
Where you can find online image galleries and audio lectures.
The Americans was not Franks only work, just his most famous.
Frank lives in New York and Cape Breton and his work Mabou hangs in the Tate Modern n London. There is a very good entry on Robert Frank in Wikipedia