Whether you are a professional photographer looking to build a library of reference or an amateur photographer looking to increase your knowledge base, this list has you covered. All of these books are curated from my personal library.
Gather these resources, take notes and learn on your own time. And don't forget, the greatest teacher is experience. Go out there and keep snapping.
One of the first challenges we all face as photographers and artists is imposter syndrome. The fear that we are pretending to be artists, professional photographers, etc. There are a million and one photographers it seems. The next logical question is, “What makes me so special?”
To take a passage from Art & Fear, “Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back... But when you commit, it comes in blazes.” What makes you special is your commitment to the craft. There may be a million and one photographers, but how far will you push yourself?
Feel inspired yet? So did I! This book continues to be the foundation for honoring myself as a professional and an artist.
In every field, there are countless quotes about looking to the past in order to expand your potential for the future. So I thought it was important to include a history book that examines the rich, albeit incomplete, history of photography.
It’s easy to forget that we have every convenience from the immediacy of instant preview to high-capacity memory cards for our DSLR’s, mirrorless, and mobile devices. We put a lot of value on these luxuries, but there are museums' worth of images that have stood the test of time that were not produced by high-megapixel sensors and 12 frame-per-second shutters.
The Last Photographic Heroes is a reminder to refocus on the joy and catharsis of image-making. Whatever camera is the only thing you need to get started.
Every photographer has their own interest. Some photographers love to capture portraits of uniquely dressed fashionistas on the streets; while others camp out for hours or even days to catch a rare glimpse of the wild strawberry leopard.
“Knowing your why” as Simon Sinek puts it, is critical to a photographer's vision. Otherwise we are simply damned to capture uninspired photos and wonder why no one “gets it”.
Start With Why is not a photography book. But it will help you gather your thoughts and ideas as a professional photographer and art maker.
Full disclosure, I did not go to photography school but I did go to university for a Master’s in Clinical Psych. Do I regret it? No. Do I wish I just took out a $10,000 loan and went backpacking in another country instead? Yes.
What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School goes into the reality of getting started in photography and gives you real world tips on how to break into the industry.
There is an allure and unattainability to getting your work into an established gallery. At some point we have all fantasized about it.
Playing the Gallery does a great job of making the unattainable seem less so. If you are more geared toward creating art and getting your work into a gallery, this book is filled with an honest approach to do so.
Hands down, my favorite book of all time. Yes, this is a marketing book, but no, Trust Me I'm Lying is unlike anything you have ever read. Ryan Holiday is a genius at manipulating media to gain free or inexpensive publicity for his clients. I was hooked with every story and example he shared on the pitfalls of mass-media and how to use them to market yourself.
So where does this fit into photography. Do you remember all those people on instagram who were climbing buildings and taking insane selfies off the top of them? Well they probably read this book and if not, they are damn good examples of marketing techniques that Ryan Holiday goes into.
Check this book out for inspiration in how you can use the media to make a major splash without a dime.
The Law (In Plain English) for Photographers is a new favorite of mine and I have to say, I am so mad I never thought to look for a book like this before.
Artists have a tendency to ignore things like copyright law or incorporating their business for example. Yes, as a professional photographer, you are also an entrepreneur and there are a few things we have to learn outside of proper exposure and understanding color theory.
I discovered this book during tax season and I am so happy I did because there were a lot of things like write-offs and laws for photographers to take advantage of.
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by these authors or publishers. These are all books I own and love. Purchasing books by using the links nets me a small profit at no extra cost to you. If you love what you see and would love to support the blog, order your books using our affiliate links.