What to do on a wet autumn day? Take the camera out and indulge in photography! However not always does that happen. Sometimes laziness takes over and a cup of hot coffee is what is required with a good book to read. For photographers, here are some books that I recommend whenever you get any free time.
(Autumn colors on a sunny day in Kyiv. Photographed on an inexpensive compact camera)
Here is a list of some of my favorite books on photography –
The Camera, The Negative, The Print (Ansel Adams)
These are three different books by Ansel Adams. Though outdated and written in the film era, the basic concepts are still as valid as they were in the time when these books were written. For a learner, these are obviously very helpful but even for the advanced photographers, some really good reading is hidden in the pages. The books are gems to refresh one’s concepts. Ansel Adams is well known for his landscapes and some of his best photographs get featured in these books.
500 Cameras: 170 Years of Photographic Innovation (Todd Gustavson)
This is a journey through the history of photography. Every page of the book has beautiful photographs of cameras, most of them famous and some really quirky ones too. This is a perfect book to pick up and open any random page. Even flipping through the pages and giving a quick glance at the photographs feels like walking in a museum dedicated to photography. Todd Gustavson has some more books on related topics but this one is my favorite among them all.
Pring’s Photographer’s Miscellany: Stories, Techniques, Tips & Trivia (Roger Pring)
This one is a random collection of things related to photography. The name says is all. The print is not very easy on the eyes but then one doesn’t have to read it cover to cover in one go. Just like the book above, even this one can be picked up and left at any page. Some of the facts are common knowledge whereas others are quite obscure and interesting. There are some definitions too scattered around the book which seem to distract but for beginners and those crazily in love with photography, even the definitions can be interesting to read. The book is small enough to be carried in a camera bag for reading on the way to your destination.
Annie Leibovitz at Work (Annie Leibovitz)
Annie Leibovitz in this book explains what professional photographers do and how they do it. She is most well known for her coverage of popular culture, especially Rolling Stones. The book is a wonderful way to see things the way Annie Leibovitz saw. This one requires going in a sequence and will make good reading if you are a fan of the popular culture.
The Art of Photography (Bruce Barnbaum)
This one is a heavy book and definitely requires some amount of effort to flip though it. It teaches basic fundamentals to learning to visualize. This is one of the few books that I find complete in itself. Quite an inspiring book too. Seeing the photographs makes one feel like picking up the camera and going out photographing. Many a times I too have been inspired by this book.
The Life of a Photograph (Sam Abell)
Rules are meant to be broken. This book does exactly that. The style of photography is very different from what people are commonly used to seeing on internet. This one teaches us to forget the rules and concentrate on our feeling. The photographs in this book require time to admire.
Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision (David duChemin)
For the traveler in you, this should be the first book to be read. The photographs are what can be found in the streets around us and sometimes in exotic locations. They become interesting by the addition of that slight little element which most other photographers miss out. Sometimes it is the look on the face of a person or just the contrast of colors in another. The book is a cross between an anthropological study and an inspiration on photographing people. Very nice book to fall back to on a lazy day.
Take Your Photography to the Next Level: From Inspiration to Image (George Barr)
This book is based on a series of essays originally featured on the popular Luminous Landscape website. The author goes beyond the normal limits of what casual photographers capture into the realms of art. This is a wonderful book to start looking at things in a different way and in the process start creating strong images. Reading the book is fun but the best part is the change that happens to the way of seeing things after reading the book. Give it a try. Read a few chapters and then step out with your camera. You’ll be surprised how your own perception of obvious things would have changed.
(Musician in Kyiv. For some, music is the way to soothe their souls, for me it is either photography or reading about photography)
Just yesterday, a photographer asked me if any of these books could make him a better photographer. My answer is that none of the books can make anyone a better photographer. Some of these can inspire you or even change the way you see things but for becoming a better photographer, leave your cozy setting and go out. Photograph the wet autumn and feel the chill starting to take over.
Do let me know if you have any other interesting books on your list. You can add them in the comments below.