What Books Should Photographers Read?

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What Books Should Photographers Read?

Adobe Photoshop CC Classroom in a Book

Everything you need to know about the world’s foremost editing program

Publisher: Adobe Press | Author: Andrew Faulkner and Conrad Chavez | Pages: 416

If you’re much more comfortable behind a camera than you are behind a computer, this book from Adobe’s own publishing arm will help you get to grips with the most powerful photo-editing tool in the world. The authors do a good job of working up from the basics to more advanced concepts, and there are plenty of hands-on exercises to allow you to put what you’ve learned into practice (though be aware that some of these require file downloads, which can be a bit fiddly). Get stuck in and add another string to your professional bow – you’ll be glad you did.

Best Business Practices for Photographers

Learn the skills you need to make it as a business

Publisher: Rocky Nook | Author: John Harrington | Pages: 864

Going it alone is tough, and the unfortunate truth is that simply being a good or even great photographer isn’t necessarily enough. You have to know the business, and this book is the perfect way to shore up your knowledge. Harrington covers everything from paperwork to tax audits, using his own extensive knowledge to prepare you for the realities of running your own photography business. He’s got absolutely loads of experience running his own photography business, and always seems to have just the right example for every major point. If you go for it in the photography business, you’ll find yourself returning to this book again and again.

The Art of Photography

There’s much to learn from this artist’s journey

Publisher: Rocky Nook | Author: Bruce Barnbaum | Pages: 408

Professional photographers need a head for business, but it’s important not to neglect the artistic side either. Bruce Barnbaum’s book is a wonder – an exploration of the life of a photographer and artist, and a blueprint for finding the art in your own work. Covering colour and black and white (with a shade more of the latter, reflecting Barnbaum’s own interests), it ranges in focus from the “why” of taking pictures to the practical “how” of making prints, and is all the better for all of it. If you feel you’re in danger of falling out of love with photography, this is the book to reignite your passion.

Understanding a Photograph

Why do we take pictures, anyway?

Publisher: Penguin Classics | Author: John Berger | Pages: 240

The great critic John Berger produced some of the twentieth century’s most enduring and considered photographic criticism. This collection brings together more than 20 of his essays, in which Berger turns his critical lens to images of Che Guevara, the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, August Sander's image of three peasants going to a dance, and much more. Deeply political, and shot through with Berger’s signature laconic wit, it should be considered essential reading for anyone who considers themselves interested in photography. It’s a book you’ll find yourself dipping in and out of, again and again.

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment

Take a few lessons from the master

Publisher: Steidl | Author: Henri Cartier-Bresson | Pages: 160

Out of print and all-but-unobtainable for many years, The Decisive Moment was recently reprinted and is an essential buy for anyone with any interest at all in street photography, or indeed just good photography. Cartier-Bresson’s unfailing eye for, well, the decisive moment gave his images practically unparalleled cultural endurance and longevity, and this book reproduces them in glorious quality. They are images you don’t so much see as experience, and having words of introduction from Cartier-Bresson himself immediately bumps the book up from desirable to essential.

On Photography

One of photography’s canonical critical works

Publisher: Penguin | Author: Susan Sontag | Pages: 224

Originally published serially in the New York Review of Books, Susan Sontag’s On Photography is a collection of essays that may make you want to pick up your camera right away – or make you want to never touch it again. It’s a passionate, outspoken and forthright book, aggressively interrogating the meaning and purpose of a photograph. If you like to keep your books pristine, don’t read this while you’re anywhere near a pencil, because you won’t be able to stop yourself from underlining practically half the sentences as Sontag makes insight after insight. Every photographer should read this.

Vivian Maier: The Color Work

Photography’s enduring mystery is brought into the light

Publisher: HarperCollins | Author: Vivian Maier and Colin Westerbeck | Pages: 240

Though she’s now revered as one of street photography’s all-time greats, when Vivian Maier died in 2009, no one had any idea of the archive she had amassed containing more than 150,000 photographs. They’ve since been discovered of course, and Maier has taken her deserved place in the canon, with exhibitions of her work showing regularly and books like this fabulous tome being published. Focusing on her work in colour, this gorgeous collection sheds just a little light on one of photography’s most fascinating mysteries. Like it or not, Maier can now only speak to us through her work – it’s worth listening to what she has to say.