With the temperature dropping, it’s the perfect time to camp out in a cozy cafe with a good book. But as a photographer, it can be tough. Books used to display photos are often oversized and heavy, threatening to take out cafe tables and invade the space of neighbouring readers. And more manageable-sized photography books tend to be quite technical, which can quickly kill the latte-and-Norah-Jones vibe so carefully crafted by your coffee shop.
Fortunately, there are a few portable and enjoyable gems out there. We scoured our library and found a mix of books that are cafe-friendly in size and content. Each offers up something a little different, so if you’re able to linger over that cup of tea or coffee, be sure to bring a few along.
52 Suburbs: A Search for Beauty in the Burbs
By Louise Hawson
This book is a compilation of photos taken by photographer/blogger, Louise Hawson, as she documented the neighbourhoods of her native Sydney, Australia. The book is over 500 pages long, so there’s lots of great material to look through, but it’s smaller dimensions make it more manageable to tote around than a traditional coffee table book.
Hawson excels at pairing seemingly unrelated photos on thematic and stylistic grounds – looking for the connection between paired photos is a lot of fun, and will likely make you see the world a little differently. Each neighbourhood gets its own section and brief introduction, so flipping through the book’s pages should feel a bit like you’re adventuring around sunny Sydney. Perfect for a chilly day.
Photographs Not Taken
Edited by Will Steacy
This compilation of essays by photographers, about the photographs they didn’t take, is small in size but big in ideas. Each contributing photographer provides insights into why they weren’t able to photograph a scene that’s since stuck with them, touching on ideas we’ve all dealt with, like fear, permission, experiencing the moment, and respecting the subject.
The essays are short – just a page or two long – so it’s perfect for when you only have a few moments to read (say, while you wait for your to-go drink to be prepped).
Rob did a full book review on this one – check out his review here!
100 Ideas That Changed Photography
By Mary Warner Marien
If you’re interested in photographic history, this book’s a great read! As the title suggests, it provides insight into ideas that have shaped photography as we know it today.
The ideas are diverse, ranging from more obvious developments in gear and photographic styles, down to less expected things like the influence of adventure travel and postcards on photography. Neat! Each idea gets its own spread – two easily digestible pages with plenty of photos – so you can flip through the book until you find something you like.
Ansel Adams: An Autobiography
By Ansel Adams and Mary Street Alinder
If you’re looking for something meatier, check out the autobiography of acclaimed landscape photographer, Ansel Adams. The book traces Adams’ life from childhood through to his six-decade-long career as a photographer (with stops along the way to touch on his work as an educator, conservationist and musician). The writing is stunning, with Ansel providing quiet, powerful insights into how he saw the world. It’s a thoughtful, elegant read, reflective of the quality of photos for which Adams was known best.
Those are a few books we’d happily tote along to a coffee shop. Now tell us what you’re reading by leaving a comment below!