3 Books Everyone Should Read About Photography

Nov 25, 2023

Over my time as a photographer I've read 100's of books about photography. From pure academic tomes, books breaking down lighting set-ups and tutorials, all the way through to weighty monographs full of gorgeous photographs.

A lot of the tutorial books just covered the same ground over and over. They were helpful at the time but didn't really have any lasting impact on my photography.

However, there are three books that I still refer to which I would encourage you to read.

The History Of Photography
(an overview) - Alma Davenport

This book was on my set list when I was a student and I still have it. Albeit slightly more dogeared than it was originally!

While it's an academic textbook, it is easy to read and full of wonderful photographs. It introduced me to a wider world of photography and photographers who I'd never heard of.

It's a testament to how useful this book is that it was only published in 1990 and was already on a university reading list by 1993!

And, unlike a lot of photography books - it's pretty cheap!

Seeing Things:
A Kid's Guide to Looking at Photographs
- Joel Meyerowitz

I discovered this book when I was looking for a present to give to a friend of mines daughter. Yes, it's a book for kids, and quite frankly if hadn't been bought as a present AND being written by Joel Meyerowitz, I'd not have given it a second glance.

But I'd have missed out!

It's full of excellent, easy to comprehend explanations of ideas in photography.
From patterns, lines, shape and form through to decisive moment, light and colour, Joel introduces the reader to photographer after photographer whilst he shares his deep knowledge and enthusiasim for photography.

Again, a very affordable purchase and it's so good I bought it twice!

Steal Like An Artist
Austin Kleon

Way back when, I watched a video on YouTube called 'Everything Is A Remix'

It was about how what we all assume is original work is mostly, well, just a remix of previous ideas.

I had been struggling with the concept of trying to be original in my photography, and when I read Austins book (which he freely claims was heavily influenced by EIAR) it helped me to stop worrying so much.

A bit like those little booklets of mantras you see near the tills in book stores, this book helps give me a bit of persepective when I'm feeling overwhelmed by trying to grab onto something intangible - Creatvitiy.

Yes, it's not a photography book per say, but it's I think one of the most important books a photographer should read!

I hope you find these books as helpful for your photography as I have over the years.