This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.
I recently posted lists of my favorite fiction and non-fiction books for each (or almost each) letter of the alphabet. This time around I’m trying to pick a favorite photography book for each letter. This was far more difficult than the other lists because I haven’t read nearly as many photography books. But I did the best I could, and the results are below.
How could I not choose Ansel Adams for A? I, like so many others, have been greatly inspired by his work, and 400 Photographs is a fantastic collection of his images.
B - Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds by Tim Laman and Edwin Scholes
This is one of my more recent purchases, so I haven’t actually read the entire book yet. Perhaps that means I’m cheating choosing it for B, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I love the many photographs of these incredible birds, ones I may never see in person in the wild.
I love this style of book. It contains photographs by Annie Griffiths Belt, but it also contains her story, how she travelled the world with her family, the sights they saw, and the lessons they learned. Great read, even for non-photographers.
Dorothea Lange had to be D. As with Ansel Adams, I find her work very inspiring, even if it’s not a style I tend to shoot, myself. She can tell a story with a photograph better than most, and that’s something we can all learn from.
I really love this book. It’s an excellent representation of Steichen’s work and has some great essays on the man and his life. But I did struggle to choose just one book for E, so I’m going to cheat and also mention Earth is My Witness by Art Wolfe.
I like the way Tony Sweet approaches photography, from an artistic perspective I find very appealing. This is a small book that focuses mostly on the photographs. But it’s one I enjoy looking through every so often.
Genesis is such a powerful book full of absolutely stunning black and white photography. I really admire Salgado’s work, and this is just an incredible example of that work. Highly recommended.
Andrea Baldeck takes us to another part of the world and lets us explore the culture, art, nature, and geography of that region through her photography. She tells the story of the people and the place.
Another one of my favorites, the only thing better than this book would be seeing the prints in person. These are excellent reproductions of Penn’s work, showing the incredible tonal ranges he captured in his compositions. Beautiful work.
J - John Shaw’s Nature Photography Field Guide
This was one of the first nature photography books I purchased, so perhaps I have a soft spot for it. It helps give an overview of many of the different topics relevant to the field, even if some sections do show their age.
K - Andre Kertesz: Of Paris and New York
I’m cheating a little with this book, as I’m nowhere near finished reading it. But how could I not include Kertesz for K? This book contains a nice sampling of his work and several essays about his life.
When I first bought this book I felt a little disappointed, the photographs just didn’t stand out to me. But the more I read and looked through it the more drawn to it I felt, the more the photographs resonated with me, the more I started to really feel like I understood something about them, about the story they were telling. Now I really like The Life of a Photograph.
This is the first book I’ve purchased of Michael Kenna’s work, and I couldn’t be happier. I find his photography so inspiring, I just love the ethereal feel to some of it. Another highly recommended book.
I love the way this book is written, with one or more photographs, followed by some text by Art Wolfe from the perspective of the photographer, and then Martha Hill from the perspective of an editor. This adds so much depth to the discussions.
O - Obscure Destinations by Dan Westfall
I was fortunate to meet Dan Westfall at an art show, which is where I purchased this book. It contains a very nice sampling of his black and white photography.
P - The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman wrote a series of books teaching many photography topics. My favorite of the series is the first book, The Photographer’s Eye.
Q - . . .
Move on, there’s no Q here today.
R - Reflections of Seoul in Four Seasons by Jodi Cobb
This is a nice picture book of Jodi Cobb’s photographs of Seoul, Korea. I love photography of cultures that differ from my own. It’s a great way to learn more about the world and its people.
I regard this as one of the most incredible books of photography I own. It’s large, so it has impact from that alone. But the photography is just amazing. Steve McCurry has such a great skill at photographing people and conveying story in his photographs. Beautiful book.
I loved Art Wolfe’s television series, Travels to the Edge. This book is a companion to the series, containing many of the photographs talked about during the show, along with some extra background about the travels.
U - Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
In my view, this is the classic book on exposure. Bryan Peterson has a way of explaining the topic that just makes sense, or at least it seemed to when I read it. I like his style of writing, and I also enjoy his photography.
V - The Vision by David Noton
I find David Noton’s writing and photography very inspiring. The Vision is all about starting out with an idea that when mixed with all the required technical know-how and artistry can lead you to that final impactful photograph.
W - Waiting for the Light by David Noton
Am I cheating again by including two David Noton books in a row? Well, I don’t care. Waiting for the Light is one of my favorite photography books for the beautiful combination of inspiring writing and beautiful photographs. It’s almost lyrical. Anytime I read this book I feel the pull to go out and create, to see the world, breath the early morning mountain air, walk down a path, and explore whatever the world has to offer. And if I haven’t cheated enough already, I’m going to do it again by also mentioning Within the Frame by David duChemin, another favorite book of mine.
X - . . .
X marks the spot, but that spot ain’t here.
Y - . . .
Y couldn’t I find a book to fill this slot?
Z - . . .
Zzzzzz is what you must be doing after this many missing letters.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I enjoyed trying to create it. I couldn’t quite finish it, but I was surprised just how many letters I could fill. Have you read any of these books? Do you have favorite photography books that could fill any of my missing letters? Or have you created a list of your own?