I read a post this this week on one of my favourite photography blogs called “Five Books That Changed My Life as a Professional Photographer“. It was a great read, and one that I couldn’t agree more with. I have read and loved three out of those five photography books, and I would agree that they were life-changing for me as a professional photographer. The importance of continuing to educate ourselves as photographers cannot be understated in my opinion. In a world where most photographers these days are ‘self-taught’, reading blogs and books is vital. Especially if you want to work as a professional photographer. I highly recommend heading over and reading the above post.
VisionMongers: Making a Life and a Living in Photography by David duChemin
Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers. by Zack Arias
The Copyright Zone: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age by Edward Greenberg and Jack Reznicki
The Designers Guide to Marketing and Pricing by Ilise Benun and Peleg Top
ASMP: Professional Business Practices in Photography
The last three of the five books in the list are going to be far more relevant to photographers wanting to work professionally, even if that just means part-time. The other two (VisionMongers and Photography Q&A) are going to be literary gold for anyone who wants to go deeper with their photography. I bought them both a number of years ago and have read them numerous times. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Reading this list got me thinking about the other photography books I’ve read that have impacted me. There are quite a few that have inspired me in some way or taught me something new, but there are three more books that I also cannot recommend highly enough. So, in no particular order…
1. “Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera” by Brian Peterson
Brian Peterson’s Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera is, as the name very clearly suggests, all about the most basic and essential skill of photography – understanding light and how your camera interprets it. When learning photography basics, the interaction of light, aperture, and shutter-speed are some of the first things that beginner photographers need to get their heads around. Understanding Exposure goes so much deeper than these basic camera settings though. It takes the reader through many of the elements that can affect the image that you end up with on your memory card. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my photography is that light is the single most important element in any photograph. Great light can make a very ordinary scene extraordinary, and ordinary light can make an extraordinary scene very dull.
This is the first book I recommend to any beginner or intermediate photographer. It covers everything from aperture, shutter-speed, and ISO to the use of filters, flash, and coloured gels. It even covers some of the more advanced photographic techniques like long-exposures and shooting star-trails. No matter whether your thing is shooting landscape or travel photography using natural light, or if you like to use flash to shoot portraits or products, Understanding Exposure will give you the knowledge to take better photos.
2. “Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (2nd Edition)” by David duChemin
Expanding on his first book, and one of my favourite photography books (VisionMongers), David duCheming continues on the theme of finding and expressing vision in Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision. David has become one of the most infuencial voices in the photography world by taking the focus off the all too common obsession with gear and placing it firmly on the art and craft of photography. This is summed up by his mantra of “gear is good, vision is better”. His is one of the few photography blogs that I read virtually every post. Often more than once. His perspective and approach are refreshing and understanding. His words are very much from the perspective of someone who is on the same journey as the rest of us. I often feel like he’s my own private mentor.
Within the Frame is part inspiration and part education. As a humanitarian and travel photographer, David has visited and experienced more places and cultures than most of us would dream of in our lives. The book is full of stories, practical advice, inspiration, and beautiful photographs that will help you find and define your own photographic vision, especially if your passion is travel photography.
3. “The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World’s Top Shooters” by Joe McNally
Like the previous books on this list, The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World’s Top Shooters was one of the first photography books I owned. I kept seeing Joe McNally showing up all over the place every time I watched or read something photography-related, so I started following him and quickly realised that he is one of the top photography educators in the world for a good reason. He not only has an incredible wealth of experience shooting some of the biggest names and for the biggest magazines in the world, but he has a rare ability to pass on knowledge in easily digestable ways. He simplifies the most complex techniques and concepts like few teachers can.
In The Moment It Clicks, Joe shares many of his photographs (some of which you will probably recognise) and then tells the story behind each image, including the technical info like the equipment and settings he used, how to set up a similar shot yourself, and the challenges and lessons learned from the assignment. The images alone are enough reason to buy the book, as it makes a great coffee-table book, but the wisdom that comes with them make it one of the most valuable photography books you can buy in my opinion.
What are your favourite photography books?
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced photographer, hobbyist or professional, there is always something new to learn or some new inspiration out there. What books have been influencial in your photography journey? They could be educational books like the ones above or inspirational like coffee table books. All the books above can be purchased as kindle or ebooks, but I highly recommend getting your hands on a real paper and ink copy. The images in a real photography book are worth the extra few dollars!