We've put together a list of our top 12 must-read photography books, with something inspiring for every kind of photographer!
Books to inspire through personal experience:
Road to Seeing | Dan Winters
After beginning his career as a photojournalist for a daily newspaper in southern California, Dan Winters moved to New York to begin a celebrated career that has since led to more than one hundred awards, including the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography. An immensely respected portrait photographer, Dan is well known for an impeccable use of light, color, and depth in his evocative images.
In Road to Seeing, Dan shares his journey to becoming a photographer, as well as key moments in his career that have influenced and informed the decisions he has made and the path he has taken. Though this book appeals to the broader photography audience, it speaks primarily to the student of photography—whether enrolled in school or not—and addresses such topics as creating a visual language; the history of photography; the portfolio; street photography; personal projects; his portraiture work; and the need for key characteristics such as perseverance, awareness, curiosity, and reverence.
By relaying both personal experiences and a kind of philosophy on photography, Road to Seeing tells the reader how one photographer carved a path for himself, and in so doing, helps equip the reader to forge his own.
Get it here.
50 Portraits | Gregory Heisler
In this first-ever showcase of his work, Gregory Heisler, one of professional photography's most respected practitioners, shares 50 iconic portraits of celebrities, athletes, and world leaders, along with fascinating, thoughtful, often humorous stories about how the images were made. From his famously controversial portrait of President George H.W. Bush (which led to the revocation of Heisler’s White House clearance) to his evocative post-9/11 Time magazine cover of Rudolph Giuliani, to stunning portraits of Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Hillary Clinton, Michael Phelps, Muhammad Ali, and many more, Heisler reveals the creative and technical processes that led to each frame.
For Heisler’s fans and all lovers of photography, Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits offers not only a gorgeous collection of both black-and-white and color portraits, but an engrossing look at the rarely seen art of a master photographer at work. With a foreword by New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
Get it here.
Magpies | Sara Lando
A widowed woman unable to carry on and who only lives in the odd chapters.
A fundamentally optimistic man who lives in the even chapters and is about to find out a shocking truth about his own identity. These are the premises of Magpies, a 150 pages long graphic novel about loss, love and the quest for the real self. This is a project that has been going on for years, often neglected for long periods of time, always haunting me in the back of my mind. I used analogue and digital techiques, in form of photographs, collages, drawings and photomontages; I wanted to break free from restrictions imposed by my work: I didn’t want to spend my time caring about the rules of how a photograph should be made, I don’t like all the fuss around the “digital vs analogue” issue, I don’t care how much post production is put into a single photo. All I wanted was to grab the images I had in mind and spread them onto a piece of paper so that they would stop bugging me. Using a medium like the graphic novel to tell a story, I was able to explore narrative possibilities which are very different from those granted by a single photograph or even a series of photos. Combining text and images, I can look at a concept from different points of view simultaneously, creating a bond with the reader, who is to participate more actively in the unfolding of the plot, creating a short circuit between words and pictures. There are more layers.
The title refers to a traditional nursery rhyme for children that goes:
“One for sorrow, Two for joy, Three for a girl, Four for a boy, Five for silver, Six for gold, Seven for a secret Never to Be Told”.
The narrative is divided into seven chapters, which mimic the rhyme and try to shed light on one question: who are we, really? And how do we change when we relate to other people around us?
Get it here.
Light, Gesture & Color | Jay Maisel
Jay Maisel, hailed as one of the most brilliant, gifted photographers of all time, is much more than that. He is a mentor, teacher, and trailblazer to many photographers, and a hero to those who feel Jay’s teaching has changed the way they see and create their own photography. He is a living legend whose work is studied around the world, and whose teaching style and presentation garner standing ovations and critical acclaim every time he takes the stage.
Now, for the first time ever, Jay puts his amazing insights and learning moments from a lifetime behind the lens into a book that communicates the three most important aspects of street photography: light, gesture, and color. Each page unveils something new and challenges you to rethink everything you know about the bigger picture of photography. This isn’t a book about f-stops or ISOs. It’s about seeing. It’s about being surrounded by the ordinary and learning how to find the extraordinary. It’s about training your mind, and your eyes, to see and capture the world in a way that delights, engages, and captivates your viewers, and there is nobody that communicates this, visually or through the written word, like Jay Maisel.
Light, Gesture & Color is the seminal work of one of the true photographic geniuses of our time, and it can be your key to opening another level of understanding, appreciation, wonder, and creativity as you learn to express yourself, and your view of the world, through your camera. If you’re ready to break through the barriers that have held your photography back and that have kept you from making the types of images you’ve always dreamed of, and you’re ready to learn what photography is really about, you’re holding the key in your hands at this very moment.
Get it here.
Find Momo | Andrew Knapp
Thousands of Internet fans play hide-and-seek with Momo the border collie every day. And now, in his New York Times best-selling book, you can too! Momo and his best buddy Andrew Knapp have traveled all over—through fields, down country roads, across cities, and into yards, neighborhoods, and surreal spaces of all sorts. The result is a book of spectacular photography that’s also a game you can play anytime. Lose yourself in page after page of Andrew’s beautiful, serene, dreamlike images, and sooner or later you’ll find Momo’s sweet, eager face looking back at you.
Knapp's book is an excellent example of how a simple photography project can turn out.
Get it here.
Books to inspire through pratical application:
The Design Aglow posing Guide for Family Portrait Photography | Lena Hyde
Whether you’re facing your first family portrait shoot or are a seasoned professional looking for fresh inspiration, Design Aglow’s 100 ideas for posing newborns, babies, children, siblings, and families will help you approach each session brimming with confidence and creative ideas.
Design Aglow’s style-savvy approach has resonated with photographers (and their clients) everywhere. This curated collection reflects their modern sensibility, with poses from industry superstars such as Elizabeth Messina, Rachel Devine, Jose Villa, Tara Whitney, and Anna Kuperberg. You’ll also get tips on directing your subjects, follow-up shots for each setup, and behind-the-scenes lighting information.
Both eye candy and practical reference tool, The Design Aglow Posing Guide for Family Portrait Photographywill inspire any family photographer, novice or expert, to “wake up” their style and take beautiful portraits for modern families.
Get it here.
Exposure: From Snapshots to Great Shots | Jeff Revell
With Exposure: From Snapshots to Great Shots, popular photographer Jeff Revell starts with the basics of light, including how it works, and how to see it. In order to leverage this new understanding of light in your photography, Jeff walks the reader through one of the most important photographic principles--the exposure triangle: ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture. Learning to apply these three elements together is the gateway to both technical and creative control of your photography.
The book covers all key camera features that affect exposure (regardless of what type of DSLR you have) including aperture priority mode, shutter priority mode, and exposure compensation. Throughout the course of the book, the reader will gain an understanding of exposure for many different situations, such as taking portraits, action shots, landscapes, and more. Beautifully illustrated with large, vibrant photos, this book teaches you how to take control of your photography to get the image you want every time you pick up the camera.
Get it here.
Food Photography & Lighting | Terri Campbell
Creating mouth-watering food images requires more than just a love of food and access to a kitchen. With the popularity of food blogs and photography how-tos, it’s tempting to think that anyone can photograph food, but it’s another thing entirely to shoot for a tight ad layout with the pressure of your client watching over your shoulder.
Commercial food photographer Teri Campbell has been called a “lighting master,” and in this beautifully illustrated book, he not only shares his detailed lighting set-ups and shooting techniques for a wide range of food and drink shots, but also offers candid advice on how to set up a studio, use the right equipment, market your work, find clients, bid on assignments, hire food and prop stylists, and communicate effectively with everyone on the set.
Campbell shares his expertise on dozens of commercial assignments–from shooting beignets on location in New Orleans, to creating perfect ice tea pours, to photographing beans on real flames in his studio. Learn how he creates dynamic compositions, uses studio strobes, and arranges light diffusers, reflectors, fill cards, and mirrors, to create the perfect capture. Campbell also discusses his post-processing techniques in Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Photoshop to create images that are irresistible.
This guide for intermediate and advanced users provides the insider details to help you expand your photography skills or turn your passion for food and images into a professional career.
Get it here.
Your Child in Pictures | Koh Me Rah
Photography tips for moms and dads on how to take everyday portraits of children
Celebrated photographer and best-selling author Me Ra Koh provides step-by-step instruction on photographing your family and taking pictures of your child. As a companion book to Your Baby in Pictures,Your Child in Pictures helps you learn to capture your child’s special moments with 40 beautiful “photo recipes” that anyone can do, with any camera.
From first haircuts to first days of school, from snuggly teddy bears to favorite dress-up clothes, the toddler and childhood years are full of precious days that disappear all too soon. What parent doesn’t yearn to freeze the memory of their 2-year-old’s chubby cheeks, or their 6-year-old’s toothless grin?
Get it here.
Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots | Richard Harrington
Nearly every DLSR camera available today also shoots beautiful high-definition video. YouTube and Facebook are bursting with user-generated content as people share their memories and travels. Whether it's highlights from a great vacation, the kids' soccer game, or family gatherings, everyone wants to create compelling video to document it. While DSLR cameras are quite capable of shooting video, for many, their foray into video shooting can be frustrating. Footage tends to be dark and out of focus and suffers from camera shake and bad audio.
In Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots, photographer and video expert Rich Harrington demystifies the process and teaches a solid foundation for capturing great video. Whether readers have been dabbling in video already or have never even used that mode on their camera, they will learn how to go from capturing mediocre video to creating compelling footage--and all the steps in between!
Readers will also learn the essentials of video editing and publishing to the web; how to make the most of their existing equipment; affordable options to improve video capture; and much more! To supplement the book, readers will gain sample videos that further demonstrate the techniques presented in the book.
Get it here.
Photojojo: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas | Amit Gupta and Kelly Jensen
Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY Ideas from Potter Craft written by Amit Gupta and Kelly Jensen shows you how to turn your forgotten photos into ingenious photo projects.
Do you have lots of pics of friends and family you want to show off? Make a sleek, stylish photo display rail so you can change them up at a moment's notice. Need something to play with? Make photo slider puzzles, Rubik's cubes, and temporary tattoos. Or spruce up your pad with a photo chandelier or a giant wall mural you can print at home! All the projects use basic materials and are easy enough to whip up in an afternoon.
Once you're armed with what you can do with all your images, check out Photojojo's inspiring ideas to get you shooting photographs more creatively. Investigate the world from a canine perspective with the amazing doggie cam, or grab your friends and head out on a photo safari. Make a sneaky hidden jacket camera and turn string, a washer, and a screw into a monopod that fits in your pocket, MacGyver-style. Learn how to motivate yourself to take a photo every day with project 365, or get the little ones involved with Photojojo's head-spinning photography method. Photography just became a whole lot more fun.
Get it here.
Understanding Exposure | Bryan Peterson
With more than 350,000 copies sold, Understanding Exposure has demystified the complex concepts of exposure for countless photographers. Now updated with current technologies, more than one hundred new images, and an all-new chapter, this new edition will inspire you more than ever to free yourself from “auto” and create the pictures you truly want.
In his trademark easy-to-understand style, author Bryan Peterson explains the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, including how to achieve successful exposures in seemingly difficult situations. You’ll learn:
• Which aperture gives you the greatest contrast and sharpness, and when to use it
• Which apertures guarantee the background remains an out-of-focus tone
• Which one aperture—when combined with the right lens—creates an area of sharpness from three feet to infinity
• How to creatively use shutter speed to either freeze an action or imply motion
• Where to take a meter reading when shooting a sunset, snow, or a city at dusk
With new information on white balance, flash, HDR, and more, this updated classic will inspire you to stop guessing and take control of your settings for better photos anytime, anywhere, and with any camera.
Get it here.
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See our entire range of books here.
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