In this article I would like to share with you my favorite (top) photography books for 2013. The list is comprised of books that I read on 2013 and highly enjoyed, books that patiently wait on my shelves to be read or books that I have planned to get on 2014. The list is divided into two main sections. The first part contains books that can help you learn and improve your photography skills, and the second part inspirational photo essays from photographers i admire. You might of course disagree with the selections for one reason or the other, in this case I am looking forward to hear your own recommendations and book suggestions!
So let’s get started!
Books to improve your skills
Photography Q&A: Real Questions. Real Answers. (Voices That Matter)
For years, editorial and commercial photographer Zack Arias has been a respected and trusted voice in the photography industry. Known for his photography, his teaching, and his ability to connect with photographers, Zack has long had an “open door” approach to discussing his career–the ups and the downs–and in so doing has provided a straightforward and candid look inside the industry. By consistently showing great work and offering helpful advice, he has built a large, loyal readership that looks to him for guidance in navigating the currents of a difficult and dynamic industry. Now, Zack finds yet another way to cut through the noise and offer truly valuable information to those struggling to make their way through the twists and turns of an ever-changing landscape.
In Photography Q&A, Zack answers over 100 questions that he fielded directly from the public. These are questions that range across all aspects of the photo industry: gear, marketing, street photography, vision, pricing, branding, light, models, work/life balance, technical advice, and much more. From how to “put yourself out there” and start to get jobs, to how to get paid for those jobs when the client is slow to cut the check–and everything in between– Photography Q&A answers many of the pressing questions that photographers are asking, but until now have not been addressed. The book also includes intermittent “Visual Intermission” sections–where Zack discusses individual images that were milestones in his development as a photographer–as well as worksheets on topics such as pricing and costs that help photographers to “know their numbers.”
With all this material, and with insightful, honest answers that come straight from Zack’s experience as a photographer who has seen it all (or at least a lot of it), Photography Q&A is an essential resource for any photographer looking for the real answers to the real questions in the industry today.
Photographers are born travelers. They’ll go any distance to capture the right light, beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and people. But exotic locales aren’t necessary for interesting photographs. Wonderful images are hiding almost everywhere; you just need to know how to find them.
Extraordinary Everyday Photography will help you search beyond the surface to find the unexpected wherever you are, be it a downtown street, a local park, or your own front lawn. Authors Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring encourage amateur photographers to slow down, open their eyes, and respond to what they see to create compelling images that aren’t overworked. Through accessible discussions and exercises, readers learn to use composition, available light, color, and point of view to create stunning photographs in any environment. Inspiring photo examples from the authors, taken with DSLRs, compact digital cameras, and even iPhones, show that it is the photographer’s eye and creative vision–not the gear–that make a great image.
A powerful portfolio involves so much more than just a strong grasp of the technical aspects of photography–it’s a complex mix of style, techniques, and intriguing ideas. Many photographers struggle to achieve a high-impactportfolio, feeling that they lack the creative spark to invigorate them andmove their work forward.
Creative 52 is that spark–and your guide to a new and more creative portfolio in just one year! A remedy for that “average” portfolio, this collection of innovative projects will help portrait, wedding, and fashion photographers build a portfolio that draws the attention of editors and clients–leaving the competition behind. While other how-to books often use bland imagery simply to prove a technical point, and many fine art books are filled with beautiful imagery but contain minimal (if any) educational insights to help working photographers, this book blends both: inspiration and knowledge that you can use to create images that attract potential clients.
Divided into three parts–concept, technique, and post-processing–author Lindsay Adler’s 52 challenges each contain a description of the project, potential inspiration and suggestions of other artists to check out, and her own unique solution to the challenge–all to push you beyond your comfort zone to explore new ideas and approaches to your work.
Includes a year’s worth of weekly projects that motivate you to experiment with new concepts, techniques, and software tools like Adobe Photoshop to achieve more eye-catching images
Offers the cure for “expected” imagery, showing how to produce memorable photographs that are distinct from the competition, enabling you to reach new clients
Empowers you with the encouragement and expertise necessary to create spectacular images
With more than 350,000 copies sold, Understanding Exposure has demystified the complex concepts of exposure for countless photographers. Now updated with current technologies, more than one hundred new images, and an all-new chapter, this new edition will inspire you more than ever to free yourself from “auto” and create the pictures you truly want.
In his trademark easy-to-understand style, author Bryan Peterson explains the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, including how to achieve successful exposures in seemingly difficult situations.
- Which aperture gives you the greatest contrast and sharpness, and when to use it
- Which apertures guarantee the background remains an out-of-focus tone
- Which one aperture—when combined with the right lens—creates an area of sharpness from three feet to infinity
- How to creatively use shutter speed to either freeze an action or imply motion
- Where to take a meter reading when shooting a sunset, snow, or a city at dusk
With new information on white balance, flash, HDR, and more, this updated classic will inspire you to stop guessing and take control of your settings for better photos anytime, anywhere, and with any camera.
“This charming book provides a fresh approach and offers assignments for those new to the craft. The book will also appeal to seasoned photographers looking for new ways to capture the moments around them in a more meaningful and personal way.”–Publishers Weekly
Renowned photographer George Lange’s work is guided by one simple truth: An unforgettable photograph is not about what the subject looks like, but what it feels like. In this entirely new kind of photography guide, written by Mr. Lange and Scott Mowbray, magazine editor and longtime amateur photographer, the rest of us will learn how to take photographs that don’t just document life but celebrate it.
No fancy equipment required. Just hundreds of simple, inspiring ideas and lessons—each one illustrated with a photograph—organized around the six essential principles of seeing like a photographer. (Here’s one: Shoot the Moment, Not the Subject.)
Here’s why to shoot in natural light—always. The fun of putting babies in surprising places. How to get intimate with food. Using a dramatic sky as your backdrop. The benefit of learning to know the light in every room of your house. Shooting hands or feet instead of faces. How to move past the “I was here” postcard effect. How to catch the in-between moments. Because in the end, it’s about living the moment, shooting the moment—and being in the moment forever.
Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
Stunning Digital Photography is much more than a book; it’s a hands-on, self-paced photography class with over 6 hours of online training videos and free help from the author and other readers. That’s why award-winning author and photographer Tony Northrup’s book quickly became #1 photography e-book of 2012 and 2013 with over 100,000 readers.
This book gives you four innovations no other book offers:
- Free video training. Watch over 6 hours of fast-paced, hands-on video tutorials integrated into the book to support and reinforce the lessons. View the videos using any web browser or by scanning QR codes with your smartphone.
- Hands-on practices. Complete the practices at the end of every chapter to get the real world experience you need.
- Classroom support. Join an author led private community of supportive, helpful people who also want to improve their photography.
- Free ebook with lifetime updates. When you buy the book and join the private Stunning Digital Photography readers community, you can download the ebook and copy it to your smartphone or ereader for easy reference. The ebook is regularly updated with new content and videos as new photography trends and equipment emerge, so it never becomes outdated.
BetterPhoto Basics: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Taking Photos Like a Pro
Absolutely anyone can take better photos!
If you can press a button, you can take great pictures. It’s as simple as that. In BetterPhoto Basics, Jim Miotke, founder of the popular online photography school BetterPhoto.com, shares tips and tricks to improve your photos right away, no matter what camera you’re using. Too busy to read a book? No problem—flip to any page for an instant tip to use right away! Learn to compose knockout shots, make the most of indoor and outdoor light, and photograph twenty popular subjects, from sunsets and flowers to a family portrait. Those who want to go further get tips on controlling exposure and the secrets behind ten advanced creative techniques. And everyone will appreciate Jim’s breakdown of easy fixes to make in Photoshop. No matter what your level of experience, you’ll be amazed how easy it is to start taking photos like the pros.
The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos
Design is the single most important factor in creating a successful photograph. The ability to see the potential for a strong picture and then organize the graphic elements into an effective, compelling composition has always been one of the key skills in making photographs.
Digital photography has brought a new, exciting aspect to design – first because the instant feedback from a digital camera allows immediate appraisal and improvement; and second because image-editing tools make it possible to alter and enhance the design after the shutter has been pressed. This has had a profound effect on the way digital photographers take pictures.
Now published in sixteen languages, The Photographer’s Eye continues to speak to photographers everywhere. Reaching 100,000 copies in print in the US alone, and 300,000+ worldwide, it shows how anyone can develop the ability to see and shoot great digital photographs. The book explores all the traditional approaches to composition and design, but crucially, it also addresses the new digital technique of shooting in the knowledge that a picture will later be edited, manipulated, or montaged to result in a final image that may be very different from the one seen in the viewfinder.
Picture Perfect Practice: A Self-Training Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Taking World-Class Photographs (Voices That Matter)
Translating the chaos of the real world into a breathtakingly simple, beautiful photograph can often seem like an impossible task. With busy, cluttered backgrounds and subjects who don’t know how to pose, how can you take control and get a great shot no matter the situation? In Picture Perfect Practice, photographer Roberto Valenzuela breaks down the craft of photography into three key elements–locations, poses, and execution–that you can use to unlock the photographic opportunities lying beneath every challenging situation.
Valenzuela stresses the need for photographers to actively practice their craft every day–just like you would practice a musical instrument–in order to master the art of making great images. With chapters that offer practice exercises to strengthen your photographic abilities, you’ll learn how to approach a scene, break it down, and see your way to a great photograph. The Location section features chapters that cover symmetry, balance, framing, color elements, textures, and much more. The Posing section includes the Five Key Posing Techniques that Valenzuela uses every time he’s shooting people, as well as a complete list of poses and how to achieve, customize, and perfect them. The Execution portion, with sections like “Lighting through Direction” and “Simplicity through Subtraction,” reveals Valenzuela’s overall approach to getting the shot. The book also includes an inspiring and helpful chapter on deliberate practice techniques, where Valenzuela describes his system for practicing and analyzing his work, which leads to constant improvement as a photographer.
If you’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed by the challenges of real-world locations, posing your subjects, or executing a great image–or if you simply want to become a better shooter but don’t know where to start–Picture Perfect Practice gives you the tools and information you need to finally become the kind of photographer you’ve always wanted to be: the kind who can confidently walk into any location, under any lighting condition, with any subject, and know that you can create astonishing photographs that have a timeless impact.
Books to get Inspiration
For five generations, National Geographic magazine has dazzled and educated people with its incredible photographs, illustrations, and gripping stories from the four corners of the earth. Combining travel, wildlife, science, history, culture, and conservation, the National Geographic Society’s trailblazing magazine has inspired millions of readers to explore and take an interest in the planet we inhabit.
Now, in celebration of its 125th anniversary, National Geographic has given TASCHEN complete access to its archives to distill the journey of a lifetime into three prodigious volumes featuring photographs—many unpublished—almost as rich, deep, and colorful as the world itself.
Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs
Steve McCurry’s iconic images have made him one of the world’s most popular photographers working today. Now, for the first time, he shares the stories behind stunning images taken from around the world throughout his extensive career.
In the finest documentary tradition, Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs delves into McCurry’s personal archive to reveal never-before-seen ephemera, including journals, portraits, maps, and beautifully reproduced snapshots from various assignments. The book is organized into 14 photo stories, each brought to life by narrative text and over 100 lavish, full-color photo plates. Together, these fascinating documents create a living biography of one of photography’s greatest legends.
Inspiration in Photography: Training your mind to make great art a habit
As a photographer it’s possible to train your mind to see inspiration in any situation, and this book will show you how. By introducing you into her creative process, Brooke Shaden—one of the most recognized names in modern art photography—reveals techniques and exercises that you can undertake in order to be inspired by your environment, everyday, everywhere. In addition to the exercises, you’ll learn how to compose, plan and shoot colorful, atmospheric, fairy-tale artistic photography, so you can adapt Shaden’s techniques and apply them to your own photographic style. Indeed, all artistic photographers seek to achieve their own style, but it’s not always easy to see how to get there.
This book provides the perfect balance of insight and instruction to help you find inspiration whenever you need it, and capitalize on it every time.
Black and White Photography
Across the Ravaged Land
Across the Ravaged Land is the third and final volume in Nick Brandt’s trilogy of books documenting the disappearing animals of eastern Africa. The book offers a darker vision of this world, still filled with a stunning beauty but now tragically tainted and fast disappearing at the hands of man.
In addition to a range of starkly powerful animal portraits, Brandt introduces some new themes, as humans make an appearance for the first time. He also contributes two essays summing up his photographic odyssey, which has taken more than a decade of intensive work to complete.
On This Earth, A Shadow Falls
In 2001, Nick Brandt embarked on an ambitious photographic project, a trilogy of books memorializing the vanishing natural grandeur of East Africa. Focusing on some of the world’s last great populations of large mammals—elephants, giraffes, lions, gorillas, and their kin—he created two of the new century’s most influential photographic books: On This Earth (2005) and A Shadow Falls (2009). His iconic portraits of these majestic animals express an empathy usually reserved for human subjects. The magisterial On This Earth, A Shadow Falls collects the most memorable images from Brandt’s first two books, along with their accompanying essays. A testament to the bookmaker’s craft, it is the first volume on Brandt’s work to capture the superb quality of his remarkable, large-format prints, which are notable for their velvety blacks and tonal subtleties. At 15 x 13 inches it is substantially larger than his previous books, and it comes in a handsome cloth binding with a tipped-in plate on the front.
Sebastiao Salgado. Genesis
“In Genesis, my camera allowed nature to speak to me. And it was my privilege to listen.” —Sebastião Salgado
On a very fortuitous day in 1970, 26-year-old Sebastião Salgado held a camera for the first time. When he looked through the viewfinder, he experienced a revelation: suddenly life made sense. From that day onward—though it took years of hard work before he had the experience to earn his living as a photographer—the camera became his tool for interacting with the world. Salgado, who “always preferred the chiaroscuro palette of black-and-white images,” shot very little color in his early career before giving it up completely.
Raised on a farm in Brazil, Salgado possessed a deep love and respect for nature; he was also particularly sensitive to the ways in which human beings are affected by their often devastating socio-economic conditions. Of the myriad works Salgado has produced in his acclaimed career, three long-term projects stand out: Workers (1993), documenting the vanishing way of life of manual laborers across the world, Migrations (2000), a tribute to mass migration driven by hunger, natural disasters, environmental degradation and demographic pressure, and this new opus, Genesis, the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society—the land and life of a still-pristine planet. “Some 46% of the planet is still as it was in the time of genesis,” Salgado reminds us. “We must preserve what exists.” The Genesis project, along with the Salgados’ Instituto Terra, are dedicated to showing the beauty of our planet, reversing the damage done to it, and preserving it for the future.
Mitch Dobrowner has been chasing storms since 2009, traveling throughout Western and Midwestern America to capture nature in its full fury. Making photographs in the tradition of Ansel Adams, to the highest standard of craftsmanship, Dobrowner creates extraordinary black-and-white images of monsoons, tornados and massive thunderstorms conjure awe and wonder. As Dobrowner states in the book’s afterword, “I experience storms as living beings, organic things, both rational and unpredictable in the way they look, how they move, grow and die. Every storm is different; each has a unique character. My job is to capture a ‘portrait’ of each storm I encounter, an image that does each one justice as if the storm was a person.” Dobrowner’s photographs been published widely by magazines, including National Geographic, Time and the Los Angeles Times. They are introduced here by Gretel Ehrlich, the American travel writer and poet, who creates her own images, in words, that evoke the stormy spirit of the American West.
Vivian Maier: Street Photographer
A good street photographer must be possessed of many talents: an eye for detail, light, and composition; impeccable timing; a populist or humanitarian outlook; and a tireless ability to constantly shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot and never miss a moment. It is hard enough to find these
qualities in trained photographers with the benefit of schooling and mentors and a community of fellow artists and aficionados supporting and rewarding their efforts. It is incredibly rare to find it in someone with no formal training and no network of peers.
Yet Vivian Maier is all of these things, a professional nanny, who from the 1950s until the 1990s took over 100,000 photographs worldwide—from France to New York City to Chicago and dozens of other countries—and yet showed the results to no one. The photos are amazing both for the breadth of the work and for the high quality of the humorous, moving, beautiful, and raw images of all facets of city life in America’s post-war golden age.
It wasn’t until local historian John Maloof purchased a box of Maier’s negatives from a Chicago auction house and began collecting and championing her marvelous work just a few years ago that any of it saw the light of day. Presented here for the first time in print, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer collects the best of her incredible, unseen body of work.
Photography: The Whole Story
Unlike many other artistic media, photography’s origins are well documented, as are its ever-changing technologies and applications. Written by an international team of experts, this definitive history of photography looks at every step of the field’s dynamic evolution, period by period and movement by movement. Each key genre is chronologically presented within its social, economic, and political context, along with close analysis of specially selected works that best exemplify the characteristics of the period. With more than 500 gorgeous examples in black and white and color, the book explores in-depth virtually every aspect of the medium since its first public demonstration in 1839 to the latest innovations: from early portraits and the birth of photojournalism to travel photography and the mapping of the world; from the Pictorialists to the avant-garde; from celebrity and fashion to documentary and landscape. Along the way readers will learn why some photographs are considered iconic, and why the medium as an art form continues to challenge and enthrall us.