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Photography books I recommend

Having just spent the weekend watching Jasmine Star’s CreativeLIVE workshop on the business of photography I am now fully inspired again. It’s nice to hear from someone so authoritative that the choices you’ve made or are making with your business are on the right track.
Having gained a healthy habit of researching things from my University days I have a barrage of books on all things photography on my bookshelf and am constantly obtaining new additions.
A few people in the workshop chat were asking about some inspiring, instructive books so I thought I would share a few of the one’s that have been helpful to me and a few of my favourites.
A personal favourite is “On Photography” by Susan Sontag. Those who know of Susan will know that she was the long term lover to Portrait Photographer extraordinaire and personal hero Annie Leibovitz. A true writer and thinker, Sontag’s think-piece is a must have if you want to gain inspiration from thinking about Photography in a slightly different way. If it’s not already in Photography school syllabus’, it should be.
Another text like book is “Photography: A Critical Introduction” edited by Liz Wells. If you’re into the history of photography its critical essays will open your eyes to the development of many styles and movements.
Of course there’s also “Camera Lucida” by Roland Barthes, which usually is a set text at photography schools.
If you’re into Photojournalism and pride yourself on your photojournalistic-like work, then you should read “Magnum. Fifty Years at the Front Line of History – The Story of the Legendary Photo Agency” by Russell Miller. With stories from greats and about the greats it brought me to tears more than once and gives you a new appreciation for photojournalism, especially war themed photojournalism.
For some great stories by a fellow wedding photographer you could read “Exposed. Confessions of a Wedding photographer” by the amazing Claire Lewis. It’s about life as a wedding photographer and all the funny little things that go along with it. I enjoyed it so much I read it in a couple of hours thanks to its humour and easy reading style.
Business inspiration wise “The Accidental Millionaire” by Gary Fong, inventor of the Lightsphere. An open and honest account of his life and journey into being a successful wedding photographer, including his mistakes in the industry.
For pure inspiration in the wedding and portrait genre two must reads are “Wedding Photography Unveiled” by Jacqueline Tobin and Tamara Lackey’s “The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography”. I read these two whilst on holidays last year in France and the States consecutively and the inspiration I felt was huge. Amazing people, amazing images! Pure inspiration.
Two more inspirational looks are “The Birthday Party” by Aussie photographer Vee Speers and “Europeans” by the incomparable Henri Cartier-Bresson. Annie Leibovitz’s “A Photographers Life 1990-2005” is also awesome.
For photographic biographies you might try “Lee Miller” by Carlolyn Burke and “Diane Arbus” by Patricia Bosworth… tragic, sad and incredibly amazing women.
For more instructional types of read you might like to try “How to Start a Home-Based Photography Business” by Kenn Oberracht and “The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion” by Maira Piscopo. Both books are more into looking at the structure and workings of your actual business practices. A good book to flip through in terms of legalities is also “Business and Legal Forms for Photographers” by Tad Crawford. This might help those who are starting out and have no idea where to start with contracts and model releases. It also comes with a CD-ROM with all the templates to give you an idea on what should and shouldn’t be included in such things.
So there you have it, a list of helpful and inspiring reads for you to digest. Check out Amazon, peruse your local book store shelves. Not all of them are amazing but some of them definitely are and Jose Villa has just released a new book called “Fine Art Wedding Photography. How to Capture Images with Style for the Modern Bride”. I have just ordered it and can’t wait for it to be delivered to my hungry mail box in May!

  • Alicia Swedenborg - April 10, 2011 - 15:17

    OMG, so many books! Let’s do a deal: you read them and give me the basic cliffnotes?? hehehe! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Joanne Spencer Photography - April 15, 2011 - 14:55

    Let me know how you get on with Jose Villa’s book – much anticipated in my collection, but don’t just have the pennies for it yet! xReplyCancel

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