18 thoughts on “Summer reading to inspire your photography”

  1. I’ve only read a handful of photography books, none of which seem to be mentioned here.

    Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography series is a great read for learning technique for a variety of subjects. They don’t cover macro much, but once you realize that shooting toys is exactly the same as shooting regular sized things – techniques etc are the same, its just scale that is different.

    The other is “The Moment It Clicks” by Joe McNally – a good read on how he has lived is amazing career, and gotten those shots that no one else gets.

    Next on my list is “Photograph Like A Thief” by Glyn Dewis.

    1. Dave, I think the reason I write posts like this is so I can see what other people are reading. I will defiantly be checking out the Scott Kelby series. You’re right that so many of the techniques you need for good photography, work the same on the macro scale. I love the idea of “Photography Like a Thief”. This is a concept that Kristina and I have talked a lot about. I will be purchasing this one and adding it to my reference shelf. Thanks for sharing the books that inspire you! Shelly

  2. Excellent list Shelly, thank you! I’ve added all of these to my Amazon wishlist and will start working through them 🙂 I already have Sontag’s book and Steal Like an Artist, though they’re still sitting on the coffee table in my office gathering dust. This gives me drive to fix that though!

    I don’t think I’ve ever read photography books, but do find the “Art Of” movie books to be quite inspirational. They release them for most big blockbusters and feature concept art and behind the scenes stories. My most recent addition is The Art and Making of Wonder Woman, and it’s absolutely fantastic.

    1. Yes James you need to read those books! I think you will find “Steal Like an Artist” and easy and enjoyable read. The Sontag book is 8 separate essays, so feel to take it in small bite size chunks.

      I can see how the “Art of” books would inspire you. I think looking at the work of other artists cant help but be inspiring (and humbling). It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at museum masterpieces or pop culture concept work, looking at the work of others, cant help but be inspiring! Thanks for sharing the books that have inspired you. 🙂

  3. Shelly, this is a wonderful post.Of the books you mention, I only know three. So I might have something more to read during my next holidays.

    Most of the time, I enjoy reading books that are not just about photography, but about art in more general terms. For example, I already recommended Hans Belting’s Florence and Bagdad to Jennifer. It is about the ‘invention’ of perspective in the Renaissance era. Belting claims that leading Renaissance artists must have known Al-Hazen, an ancient mathematician from Bagdad who wrote an in depth enquiry about light.

    Belting reconstructs the efforts to arrive at ‘correct’ representations, but he also traces the different ways oriental and European arts went: Al-Hazen is about light, Renaissance thought circles around the activity of looking. One goes into abstract artworks that celebrate light, the other into playing with persuading the spectator into believing he looks at something real.

    Why is this a good read for photographers? The camera automatically creates perspective, so I was not really fully aware of the ‘philosophy’ behind it – since I read this book, I always give perspective an extra thought, sometimes making a point of reducing it to a minimum.

    Before this comment gets lengthy, I would like to share another recommendation: A Dutch photo magazine called GUP (“Guide to unique photography”). It is all about art, and zero technical stuff – which I hugely enjoy. I think they also have a website: gupmagazine.com. You sometimes need a strong stomach to digest the works discussed there though…

    1. Tobias, I can always count on you to sending me off in new directions. I’ve read the reviews and synopsis of Florence and Bagdad. I will add this to my reading list, although I think it might be above me intellectually. But a little stretching will be good for me. I’ve run across GUP before. Im intrigued but I will need to figure out a way to follow along that is not a physical magazine. Thanks for reminding me that they exist. Let me know if any other books inspire you!

      1. Your post – plus the replies – make me wonder if there shoud be a “What’s on your shelf?” section along with “What’s in your bag?”

        Susan Sontag, for example, should be worth an own discussion. (I find her absolutely poisonous for the aspiring amateur photographer, and much of my photographic motivation roots in the desire to prove her wrong: Photography a death mask of reality? Ha!)

        1. Tobias, I was thinking of making a reference section of books to check out. Sort of a best of books that we all have found to be relevant in our quest to be better photographers and artists. I’m a dedicated reader (both physical and audio) and I find books to be a great medium for stepping outside my own box. For me, its fun to see what other people are reading too!

          Susan Sontag is a most divisive individual. If you want to take on an aspect of her work and write up a post – I will happily throw it into the mix. Especially if your motivation comes from a desire to prove her wrong. Although I will confess I think she speaks some truth there. A photograph is only a shadow of reality. This might be why I object to people photographing at concerts. Nothing you can ever capture digitally would ever compare to the experience of being there surrounded by the music and the energy of the crowd. So I would agree with her regarding the death mask. I would interested in hearing how you disagree. 🙂

  4. Yay! I don’t have to think about what book to take away with me for our annual camping trip this summer. Well, I’ve just got to narrow it down to one, but at least I’ll be walking into the book store before we leave with list rather than my usual, “I don’t know, I like reading Selby and Easton Ellis…”.
    Thanks for sharing this great selection of reads Shelly. And the guys in my local book store probably send their thanks too!

    1. If you choose only one book, make it “Art and Fear”. If you need something lighter, try “Steal like an Artist.” Also, if you need a good summer read try Iain Banks – The Player of Games or Use of Weapons. You won’t regret it! Cheers!

      1. Summer camping reading is always light, so I’ve ordered Steal Like an Artist for this year’s lazy beach afternoons.

        1. I will add “Walking on Glass” to my reading list. Im not one to re-read books because I find there are too many other books I want to get to. But the moment I finished “Use of Weapons” I immediately started it again. My enjoyment wasn’t diminished in the least on the second reading. I was able to appreciate his use of language and how he constructed the story all the more! What a brilliant mind!

  5. I have read the Scott Kelby book, both on photo and Photoshop. Other than that I have just tried my way on my own.

    1. There is much to recommend in the Scott Kelby books. When you say “tried my own way”, I’m curious what you mean. Are you thinking about the mechanics of photography, composition or underlying meaning? The favorite book I recommended is Art and Fear which is more about coming to terms with being a creative. A book that helps you realize the struggle you feel isn’t unique. It is meant to support the artist finding their own way. My other favorite book in my list is The Photographers Playbook, which is all about helping the artist find their own voice, their own way. These two books might be of interest to you Stefan as you pursue your own creative journey. But rest assured, not everything we post here on Toy Photographers is meant to connect 100% of the time. We try to present a variety of topics so that everyone can find what they need to pursue their creativity, whatever that may be.

      Thanks for giving another vote to the Scott Kelby books!

      1. Thank you for the book tips Shelly, very appreciated. What I ment by “my own way” is that I leard much by trial and error. Didn’t go any photoschool or artschool. Just tried my way how to light and take macro photos. Got most of my tips from magazines.
        Sry for the unclear answer I gave you 🙁

  6. My reading list just got longer. Check to two of these and I’ve been meaning to read a few others, but some you’ve mentioned I hadn’t even heard of. All in all great list. I love photo and art books for the inspiration they can bring. Even if not directly related to the subject matter, just zoning into artistic thinking brings me so many photo ideas.

  7. I’ve been beating myself up for not keeping up with the blog for some time now. So when insomnia came visiting this morning, I decided to do some catching up!

    Of all the books you’ve mentioned, I only know and have one: Steal like an artist. It’s been gathering dust on a bookshelf since today, but now it’s out and waiting to be read thanks to you. I was able to find some of them as e-books, and some of them were translated into Turkish – I’m getting them as well, hopefully the translation is bearable.

    I haven’t been able to read much in the last few years, which I regret a lot, but in general I don’t think I ever read a photography book. When I first started, I just went on with what I’ve learned in school (about composition, lighting, etc) and when I wanted to learn more, I read articles on the web. This will be a challenge for me, and a good one. Thank you for that 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *