If you’re a photographer and/or a business-person, your education never stops. Once you commit to life-long learning, the sky is the limit!
Books have always, and will always, be one of the best ways to guide your personal learning. They offer the focused and dense information necessary for true understanding. Forums, blogs, and workshops should come as supplements to good ol’ fashioned book learnin’.
So here you’ll find a book list for photographers. It is in constant development, so check back often! And if you have recommendations of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments! We’re always on the lookout for more books that can help photographers succeed!
Note: Most of these books have Kindle editions, which means you can start reading them right now. To learn more about why we think the Kindle app is a new, and better, way to read, check out our review.
Annie Leibovitz At Work
by Annie Leibovitz // Photography, Creativity
A fascinating look at the career of Annie Leibovitz, as told by herself. She describes the book as an attempt to answer every single question about how her work is done. The insights into the life of a photographer, and the thought processes behind great work, are invaluable. Photographers of all genres can benefit from learning what Annie Leibovitz thinks when she’s at work.
How To Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie // Business, Client Interaction, Subject Interaction
A look at the fundamentals of human nature, and the importance of great people skills. A classic book that still remains relevant over 70 years since being first published. For photographers, this book will not only help greatly in terms of basic business skills, and handling clients, but also in interacting with the subjects of your images. For more details, check out our Book Report
The War of Art
by Steven Pressfield // Creativity, Productivity
Resistance to work is a problem that plagues the creative professional. The War of Art boldly exposes resistance for what it is (in all it’s forms); an obstacle every artist needs to overcome. As professional photographers we’re creative artists and business owners and as such we need to become aware of resistance and develop the discipline it takes to overcome it.
New photographers will take away an understanding of the mindset necessary for artistic success. For more experienced photographers this will be a wake up call and and an invitation to constructive self evaluation.
The Thank You Economy
by Gary Vaynerchuk // Business, Social Media, Marketing
Social Media: it’s the newest disruptive technology and its not going away. How is it transforming the landscape of consumer behavior in the market place, and what does this mean for business owners? Opportunity, as author Gary Vaynerchuk sees it!
Gary comes to us from the trenches to share his experience and insights with social media. The biggest revelation: caring about your customers and building relationships leads to success. Photographers will absolutely benefit by reading this book. For more details, check out our Book Report
Getting Things Done
by David Allen // Productivity
The challenges of productivity are nothing new. We all want to work as efficiently as possible. The difference now is the number of knowledge-based workers doing self-directed work (the move out of the factories and in front of computers).
Professional photographers will be acutely aware of the unique challenges associated with “what to do next”. Process those images, schedule that shoot, respond to e-mails, review that new camera, design that clients album etc. etc. (on top of the rest of life’s seemingly full time to-do list). David Allen shares an elegant framework that will organize your life and help you move your projects and business forward efficiently.
by Seth Godin // Business, Marketing
The rules of marketing have changed. With advertising becoming so overwhelming, you need to do something remarkable to stand out. You need to create something worth talking about: a purple cow. Photographers are faced with an increasingly competitive market, and this book will inspire you to find out what makes you different, embrace it, and find your unique success.
by Jason Fried & David Heinmeier Hansson // Business
An example of less is more, this book is a collection of short, to-the-point, “brilliantly simple rules for success”. For photographers, this is a great way to get your business gears going, and think about how powerful small business can really be.
by Malcolm Gladwell // Business, Learning
A fascinating look at the “story of success”. What makes some people
successful, and others not? Malcolm Gladwell argues that there’s more to it than previously understood. Photographers will be able to take away the concept of how much work it takes to become great at something (the 10,000 hour principle) and that success comes to those who are prepared to take advantage of it.
Optional, But Still Awesome
Art & Fear
by David Bayles // Art, Creativity
“Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.” There’s not much more that can be said about this book! It is incredibly valuable for anyone who hopes to create good art, consistently and productively.
by Malcolm Gladwell // Psychology
A look at decision making, and how thinking without thinking sometimes produces the best results. It has a few too many stories, and not enough content, but if you’re interested in the topic it provides some surprising new insights into thought processes. For photographers, it can help you understand how your clients make decisions, and give you some guidance on how to make your own.
by Gary Vaynerchuk // Business, Social Media, Branding
Gary Vaynerchuk’s first book is an inspiring and motivating look at the power of pursuing your passion. He discusses the importance of using social media to get involved with your customers and the value of building your own personal brand. For photographers it not only shows you how your passion for photography can create a very successful business, but also how your own personality is the centrepiece of that business.
Making Ideas Happen
by Scott Belsky // Productivity
A common problem with today’s super-information-filled, creatively-charged environment isn’t the amount of ideas people come up with—it’s the ability to execute on those ideas. Scott Belsky (the creator of the indispensible the99percent.com productivity blog), provides an in-depth look at our addiction to creating new ideas, and case studies of how future-forward companies are overcoming the problem. While the focus in this book is mainly the tech/web industry, photographers who read this with an open mind will certainly take away valuable information on getting results.
The Non-Designer’s Design Book
by Robin Williams // Graphic Design
A fantastic introduction to basic graphic design principles. Geared towards the non-designer, this will help all photographers produce better graphic pieces. With a bit of thought, the concepts will also apply to photography itself! A must-read if you design your own marketing and promotional materials. (The dated clipart is the only downside)
The Portrait Photographers Posing Guide
by Nigel Holmes // Posing
A surprisingly fantastic little book on posing. It looks a bit sketchy, filled with cartoon drawings. However, the use of cartoons instead of photographs is quite helpful! They allow you to concentrate on the concepts behind great posing, so you can adapt the ideas to any pose. Tons of information in a quick read.
The Richest Man in Babylon
by George S. Clason // Money
The principles behind building wealth seem simple. That’s because they are! The Richest Man in Babylon is a parable about how to accumulate wealth with any profession. As photographers we’re often self-employed, with photography being our sole source of income (or that’s the goal as we transition from our day job). Learning the principles of retaining the income you earn will make you a much happier photographer.
The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell // Business, Sociology
An interesting look at the concept that little changes can have big effects. While too heavy on stories, with not enough content, the basic ideas are still interesting. Gladwell describes three different types of people that can help spread your message. For photographers, understanding what makes an idea (or business) tip can be very useful.
Thinking With Type
by Ellen Lupton // Typography
A primer on typography that goes beyond definitions, and discusses the critical thinking behind great design. It’s beautifully laid out, easy to understand, with a great sense of humor thrown in. A must-read if you’re wanting to learn more about typography.
We have personally read all of these books, and analyzed their relevance for photographers. Most books are geared towards the professional photographer, so there is a strong focus on business skills.
The star rating is based on our perception of how useful the book would be for a photographer:
★★★★★ – Extremely useful, a must-read
★★★★☆ – Very useful, especially if you are interested in the subject matter
★★★☆☆ – Moderately useful. You’ll get a few nuggests of helpful information.
This list is in constant development
, so if you don’t see a book you think is useful for photographers, please leave it as a comment below! We’re always working to find great books that help photographers.
All links in this post are Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you purchase the book by clicking on that link, we’ll receive a small commission for the referral. It doesn’t cost you any more to purchase that way, and the support helps us to continue with Photography Concentrate!