As a photographer, you would think the shelves above my desk were crammed with books about all aspects of photography but that visual image is far from accurate. I think there’s already plenty of valuable and instant information online that the need to justify going on a book-purchasing rampage is unnecessary at times.
I literally own just 2 books that pertain to photography and they lay neatly stacked at arms-reach from my keyboard because that’s how often I refer to them. Photography books are not cheap so I take to heart when Chris Orwig says that “advancement in photography doesn’t come from building up an arsenal of gear”. He’s obviously referring to equipment but books are equally considered tools that can become toxic if you place to much emphasis in thinking that you’ll be better off by having more.
I don’t spend endless hours reading photography books as much as I spend time practicing what I’ve read. As for which books are the best - it’s honestly all dependent on which area of the craft you’re interested in developing yourself in. For me, it’s all about travel photography or at least that’s the theme I’ve somehow developed when looking back at my work.
To shed a bit off light as the “why” on the books I own, here’s a quick overview on them:
Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing: I read somewhere that the best form to relate your photographs with people is to write articles that compliment your photos and one of the best ways of learning how to write great travel pieces is to read several and have at least one good reference guide to learn from. The book is really helpful in guiding you how to craft great stories.
Nikon D90 Digital Field Guide: This is a refined extension to that small and often neglected owner’s manual that comes with your camera. The D90 is a complex piece of equipment that takes good photographs but if you want to take great ones, you have to really invest the time to understand the equipment you own. The book is exceptionally well composed in a language that’s easy to understand.
Visual Poetry: I refer to this one as the “inspiration giver” because that’s exactly what you’re infused with after just one chapter. The book is excellent for those photographers seeking to boost their creativity and not so much their technical skills because it doesn’t go in depth talking about camera equipment. I’ve truly enjoyed every single page of it and what enriches the experience even more is that feeling as if the author is right there teaching you, talking to you and giving you the opportunity to meet famous photographers and how can you not feel inspired to go out and shoot afterwards.