Having interviewed so many wonderful photographers I was intrigued to put together a special reading list of books, especially for aspiring photographers. Would it contain photo books, classic fiction or non-fiction on the subject of creativity or composition? I’m happy to say it’s a stunning combination of all of them. I reached out to some of our most popular guests from the world of photography and asked them to nominate the best books for aspiring photographers. Starting out in photography can be daunting, and lots of people find their comfort and support in the form of books. Inspiration can be found in any form, but here at The Reading Lists, we’re all about books – so we are on the search for the best books for aspiring photographers. But first, let’s meet our amazing panel of photographers.
Brooke Shaden is a photographer who studied Film and English at Temple University. Her work with self-portraits began shortly after University. Brooke’s work has garnered great interest and she has grown a strong following, and her work has been exhibited around the world. Not only this, but Brooke is also a writer, a motivational speaker and a philanthropist.
Joel Robison is an incredibly talented fine art photographer, originally from Canada – but currently residing in the United Kingdom. He has been creating and sharing his conceptual portraiture for the last 7 years and has a strong interest in storytelling and self-expression through art. Alongside his own work, Joel Robison has also taught over 200 students across 7 countries in a series of photography workshops.
Ella Morton is a Canadian visual artist who lives in Toronto, Canada. Ella earned a BFA from Parsons The New School Design in New York in 2008 and followed that with an MFA from York University, Toronto. Ella Morton has had her brilliant work exhibited globally, with perhaps some of the more notable exhibitions including Gallery 1313 in Toronto, the Photo Centre Northwest in Seattle, and The Crying Room Projects in Vancouver.
Michael Pitts is one of Britain’s foremost underwater camera people, having worked on numerous projects around the world. He has been recognised with a plethora of awards, including Emmys for cinematography on two BBC landmark series: David Attenborough’s ‘Private Life of Plants’ and ‘Blue Planet’. Michael has over 20 years experience of making wildlife and science documentaries for the BBC and Independent Companies.
Now, please enjoy this special list of the best books for aspiring photographers…
As an aspiring photographer and filmmaker, the one book that captivated me from the moment I first opened it and one that I still recommend to fellow photographers, students and friends is Pictures On A Page by Harold Evans. First published in 1978 this pre-digital classic of news, sport and observational photography is absolutely fascinating and unparalleled in its own right. It gives true insight and an unrivalled study of photojournalism at a time when shooting on film literally meant each and every shot counted. Seeing the searing, grainy immediacy of Dom McCullins images from the theatres of war he served in are humbling. Henri Cartier-Bresson black and white images are truly arresting. There are many more. These images are part of history.
The words, a picture is worth a thousand words, ring true when viewing these images and even now it’s still a book that serves as a template for any aspiring photographer. Capturing that moment when a photograph fuses perfect composition and yet still tells a story without the need of written explanation is rare. But, Harold Evans former editor of the Sunday Times and Times takes the reader behind the images and analyses each in turn. Four decades on Pictures on a Page is still considered the definitive text on photojournalism, graphics and picture selection. For the professional and student, it is a must.
The second is a book by Brooke Shaden; Inspiration in Photography. It’s a combination of imagery created by Brooke and a lesson on how to see creativity and inspiration in every day. I’ve been friends with Brooke for ages and I’m always inspired by her ability to produce work at a constant rate, this book shares her process and how she is able to create captivating storytelling images. It’s a definite must-read for anyone who wants to work on their creative mind.
The third is Wonderland by Kirsty Mitchell. This is the mother of all photography books. Not only is it massive (5kg) but each page is filled with the detailed work of Kirsty Mitchell’s Wonderland project. The book walks you through not only the finished pieces of the series but also the stories behind the images and the making of the images themselves. As a long time fan of the detail in Kirsty’s work, it’s truly amazing to see up close the amount of work she’s put into this series and how much effort was put into each image. The book is hard to get a hold of but definitely worth it if you can get one!
Although it is an article, not a book, Steyerl provides an extremely perceptive portrait of photography as it is today. It celebrates the many incarnations photographic images have taken in the digital age, and what they mean for us.
What do you think are the best books for aspiring photographers? Let us know your nominations for the best books for aspiring photographers in the comments below!