Getting Inspiration: What is Your Favorite Photography Book?

Getting Inspiration: What is Your Favorite Photography Book?

Inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but I'm guessing that seeing the works of others has always been big for you. Seeing someone else's work probably is what got you interested in photography to begin with. So what gets your creativity flowing? For me, though my work in photography resides in the Advertising / Editorial realm, inspiration for my work comes in the form of photojournalism.

From the beginning, I always wanted to be the guy that could walk around the street and capture life with his Leica, yet the photo gods decided my talents be best used elsewhere. Maybe it’s because my social awkwardness, my aversion to being around conflict, or the fact that the idea of camping terrifies me. Nonetheless, my ability and my heart live on different levels when it comes to being a photojournalist. However, I draw inspiration from the images many photo j’s have shot, be it during a foreign conflict, local event, heck… anything where life is real and void of awareness of a camera. All to often it feels as though the subject is as addressed to the camera as the viewer is to its result, but that is where the true skill shows in this profession. Being in the situation, absorbing what it has to offer, and quietly backing out of it (often with the added goal of staying alive) are foreign concepts to my world. I may not ever use these skills on set to create my images, but in no way does that diminish my appreciation for them.

When I was in college, my wife (girlfriend at the time) got me the book, “Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs” for Christmas. At the time I thought it would make an interesting coffee table book, or conversation starter. Fast forward 10 years, and it sits next to my desk and I look at it quite frequently to know that there is a skill and courage far greater than mine that has shared the love of photography.

I encourage you to go to you local bookstore (if those still exist) and have a look at it. Some of the images are tough to take in, but I guarantee it will give you a greater appreciation for where photography has been and teach you where it can go.

So Fstoppers, let's talk about this. What is your favorite photography book or form of inspiration? Let us know in the comments below.

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Mike Kelley's picture

Luerzer's Archives are always my go-to for inspiration. Their 'Best Ad Photographers Worldwide' books are nothing short of jaw dropping

Anthony Tripoli's picture

 Best Ad Photographers are some of my favorites for sure.

My Favorite book is Visual Poetry by Chris Orwig! Amazing book about the philosophy behind photography-- great book for inspiration and self discovery! Awesome book!

Also another favorite book a series that I saw on the world's most influential images of all time. Great Iconic images all compiled into one place!

My favourite is Michael Ackerman's book Half Life. So powerful and coherent yet mysterious. And it reminds us that sharpness and "perfect" exposure are not everything.

Next would be "Shots from the hip" by Johnny Stiletto, the only book I know that talks about how it feels to take a photo and emphasises that over technique. Awesome.

Anthony Tripoli's picture

Fuck You Heroes is one of my all time favorites. I love Glenn E. Friedman's work. Very good journalistic style stuff and at the same time his portraits documenting the beginning of hip hop are stellar. He was a master at documenting sub-cultures. He just seemed to be in the right place at the right time for so many things. Skateboarding in Dogtown, Hardcore punk rock's early years, and the beginnings of hip-hop. Amazing stuff.

Full Moon by Michael Light - The most beautiful images of space you will ever see. Inspiring

One Mind's Eye by Arnold Newman - A portrait master

My America by Christopher Morris - Some great and different images from the Bush administration. 
Not what you'd expect from a guy covering the White House. 

Sahel, The End of the Road by Sebastiao Salgado - This is one of the hardest books I've ever looked at. Some stunningly sad images of the Sahel region of Africa

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Anders Petersens;

Cafe LemitzDu Mich Auch

the art of tim burton get me very nspiered even if it is not photography its art 

Gursky by Peter Galessi 

Jason Tracy Photo's picture

Richard Avedon's In the American West. I saw that book in my college library and it was like someone dropped an anvil on my head. I poured over the pages and eventually, years later, got my own copy. I still love to pull it out and marvel at his skill not only as a photographer, but as a sociologist.

richardsonad's picture

New York Times Magazine Photographs.  Fantast, FANTASTIC collection.  I got it at a lecture by Kathy Ryan about how the magazine approaches their photo assignments and on the unique look that different photographers bring to different subjects.  Great stuff.  Then one night I spilled some Crown Royal on it.  Not so fantastic.

Filip Knoll's picture

I lately bought Hot Shoe from McNally, which is great for inspiration. Got some other books in whishlist so hopefully i buy a little gift for christmass myself :)

My favorite one is the Magnum Contact Sheets book. I love it!