Books. Half of my tiny office is filled with books. I love them. I believe in them. I'm surrounded by them! The experience of flipping through a book for me beats anything an electronic device can offer. Unlike a blog post, books are the result of a huge effort on the part of many people. One must be dedicated to the process of creating one, and this usually makes them worth the time and money. My collection of photography books is extensive and I wanted to share a few with you today.
These are by no means my absolute favourites, or a top five of all time, but more a cross section of what I feel might be of interest to others. I have chosen some that are educational in intent, and others that are works by a photographer. These are books that I feel would be of benefit to all photographers of all genres. They are both introductory and extremely deep in their content. So, without another moment's delay!
The Photographer's Vision - Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman's collection of books are an incredible resource for photographers of all levels. His "The Photographer's ..." series brings us on a journey through the world of photography with one of its most renowned working professionals. His depth of knowledge and simple explanations make this series truly worth a place on and photographer's shelves.
The Photographer's Vision particularly stands out because it teaches us to look at photography critically. Specifically, it teaches us to look at the work of others. We are all impressed by images on a daily basis, and we see so many that often we don't even stop to think about why we feel what we do. The Photographer's Vision teaches us the tools with which to dissect a work and appreciate it from a technical and artistic standpoint. Although Michael Freeman's work is outstanding, and is featured in many other of his books, this book is primarily the work of others and his dissection of it.
The Moment It Clicks - Joe McNally
Joe McNally is a legend in the photographic industry with accolades like National Geographic and Time Magazine under his belt. Even with all this, he is a humble, down-to-earth, honest educator. This is what makes his books so valuable. Joe doesn't leave anything out. From his ideas to his process, his failures to his successes, and the techniques that got him there. It's all in each and every one of his books.
Whereas "The Hotshoe Diaries" dealt primarily with off camera flash, "The Moment it Clicks" deals more with photography as a whole. Don't think of it as a tutorial book, though. It is so much more than that. Joe's candid dives into what made his shoots work values this book at many times its cover price. Each image comes with an in depth story about its creation and the trials and tribulations of that time. If not for the anecdotes he shares, then the quips and jokes alone will make the purchase worth it. If you don't own it, get it.
Belgrade Belongs to Me - Boogie
Boogie's work is a straight up kick in the behind. Every image screams "get out there and document this world." His gritty in-your-face style leaves the viewer transported into his shoes. Through each of his books, he has taken us to a different community and shown us the rawness of what makes them tic.
"Belgrade Belongs to Me" brings us to the forefront of post-war Belgrade, Boogie's home city. The changes, the life, the failing areas of the city, the gangs, the street. It's all there for us with no holds barred. Whether you're a fan of documentary photography or not, there is something to be learned about honesty through Boogie's work.
The Visual Toolbox - David DuChemin
David DuChemin is known for his dedication to the mantra that Vision is Better. This book runs you through so much of what he has to teach. Throughout its pages, he focuses on actionable exercises that don't usually require any specific gear. David's approach to teaching will take you on a journey to improve your ability to observe and thus create better images.
Throughout "The Visual Toolbox", we are given methods to improve the way we create images with any gear. Even when David makes the suggestion to use a long lens, it is not because he wants to show off expensive gear or stay away from his subject. Everything in the book is visually oriented, and each technique is geared towards producing a certain look. Many of his lessons, as with Michael Freeman's, focus on the content and arrangement of your image in order to create a photograph that says something meaningful. Not only this, but David's photographs are outstanding in their own right. It is a treat simply looking through this book.
The Creative Fight - Chris Orwig
This book isn't strictly about photography, but it is probably more valuable than all the others combined when it comes to creativity. After all, photography is a creative effort, and without ideas and understanding, we cannot create. It is also one of the more difficult to digest books in this set. Chris Orwig is an educator and photographer who focuses a lot on the more poetic side of image making. His work is stunning, and his process fascinating.
Made up of dozens exercises stretched over more than 200 pages, "The Creative Fight" takes you from trying to understand your own preferences and biases to experiences that shape us and the unlikely places we can find inspiration. It is a heavy book (not in the literal sense) and not for the faint of heart. It requires honesty and patience to complete the exercises, but you will come out the other side with a deeper understanding of yourself and your art.
So there you have it. Five books from my shelf. I hope that some of these inspire you to get out and create images in new ways, or at the very least lead you on the path to some other books that will. I hope that this will serve as a place for you to share your own favourites and bring many good books to the attention of our readers. Please do share some of your favourite books below related to our craft to benefit everyone!