33 Great Photography Books - 2021 updated

Like cameras, books are beautiful objects and they have a good image - they’re modest and they’re rich. -Donovan Wylie

If you plan to read some photo books, I can recommend some great books. These are different types of photo books – some are full of images, others full of text.  I collect photography books, and the 33 books listed here are just a small part of my whole collection.

Here is my list of must-read photography books:

General Photography Books

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera
by Bryan Peterson

Short book description: 
Exposure can be complex, but in this book, the relationship between aperture and shutter speed is explained in detail and in an easy-to-understand manner.

The Best of Popular Photography (Hardcover) -  Over 40 years of major events, ideas, techniques and achievements of renowned photographers - from the pages of the world‘s foremost photographic magazine
by Harvey V. Fondiller

Short description:
The best articles from this great magazine, all in one book.

Pinhole Photography, Fourth Edition: From Historic Technique to Digital Application
by Eric Renner (Author)

Short description:
Have you seen an ordinary room converted into a camera? To better understand how a camera works and how you can use almost any box as a camera, you should check out this book.

On Photography
by Susan Sontag

Short description:
"A brilliant analysis of the profound changes photographic images have made in our way of looking at the world and at ourselves over the last 140 years." (Washington Post Book World Review)

If you have a serious interest in photography, this book is a must-buy.

The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing 
by Philippe L. Gross (Author), S.I. Shapiro (Author)

Short description:
A book full of insightful wisdom on the art of photography.


Books with Interviews with Photographers

Magnum Stories 

by Chris Boot (Author)

Short description:
"Imagine having 61 widely published photographers from around the world candidly discuss their careers and beliefs while showing you key images from their portfolios. That is the engaging concept of Magnum Stories..." - (Amazon.com review)

Who Shot That!
by Peter Adams

Short description:
A few of the world‘s legendary photographers interviewed and photographed by Peter Adams.



Photography Speaks II: 76 Photographers on Their Art
by Brooks Johnson (Editor), Chrysler Museum (Corporate Author)

Short description:
Collection of pictures, interviews, letters and obscure publications, which spans 150 years and ranges from daguerreotypes to digital images.


Image Makers, Image Takers

by Anne-Celine Jaeger (Author)

Short description:
Interviews with many of the top photographers alive today, such as David LaChapelle, Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, Gerhard Steidl, and more.

Life Photographers: What They Saw
by John Loengard (Author)

Short description:
This book shares a behind-the-scenes perspective on the great photographers of Life Magazine.
Interviews with Alfred Eisenstaedt, Yale Joel, Grey Villet, Gordon Parks, and more than 40 other great photographers.

Famous Photographers

The Americans
by Robert Frank (Photographer), Jack Kerouac (Introduction)

Short description:
"Robert Frank’s The Americans was a highly influential book in post-war American photography. The photographs were notable for their distanced view of both the high and low strata of American society." (Source Wikipedia)

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer

by Henri Cartier-Bresson (Author), Yves Bonnefoy (Contributor)

Short description:
Henri Cartier-Bresson was a French photographer considered to be the father of modern photojournalism and the master of candid photography. In this beautiful book, you will see 155 of his most famous photographs.

Annie Leibovitz at Work
by Annie Leibovitz (Author)

Short description:
Annie Leibovitz is a well-known American portrait photographer.
"At Work" provides a wonderful overview of Annie Leibovitz's career.

Photography Elliot Erwitt - Personal Exposures
by Elliot Erwitt (Author)

Short description:
Elliott Erwitt is an advertising and journalistic photographer known for his black-and-white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings -- the master of the "indecisive moment".
This book is a great overview of his best work.


Evidence 1944-1994 Photography 
by Richard Avedon (Photographer), Jane Livingston (Author), David A. Ross (Author)

Short description:
The best of Richard Avedon's photography with a good deal of text about his life and work.


Lennart Nilsson: Images of His Life
by Jacob Forsell (Editor)

Short description:
Lennart Nilsson is famous for his photographs of in-vivo human embryos and other extreme macro photography.


Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton
by Gus Kayafas (Author), Estelle Jussim (Author)

Short description:
Edgerton was the first to take high-speed color photographs and was a pioneer of multiflash and microsecond imagery.
This book is full of strange and unusual photographs.


W Eugene Smith Walk In Paradise Garden Photography
Let Truth Be the Prejudice: W. Eugene Smith, His Life and Photographs
by Ben Maddow (Author), John G. Morris (Afterword), W. Eugene Smith (Photographer)

Short description:
W. Eugene Smith was an American photojournalist known for his refusal to compromise professional standards.
This is a good book about his life and photography.


Robert Capa: The Definitive Collection
by Richard Whelan (Author)

Short description: 
The story of the greatest war photographer, it includes all of Capa‘s most famous photos.

Famous Photographs Books

The Best of Life Photography 
by David E. Scherman (Editor)

Short description: 
A great selection of the photographs from LIFE. This book is from 1973 but the great photographs are never too old.


The Great LIFE Photographers 
by The Editors of LIFE (Author), John Loengard (Contributor), Gordon Parks (Contributor)

Short description: 
The best of work of every LIFE magazine staff photographer - more than 100 great photographers.


LIFE Classic Photographs: A Personal Interpretation
by John Loengard

Short description: 
Masterwork of many LIFE‘s greatest photographers. Very interesting to read the story behind each picture.


Practical Photography Books

On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide
by David Hurn (Author), Bill Jay (Author)

Short description:
The book explains what it means to be a photographer. Very helpful and easy to read.


National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures
by Peter Burian (Author), Bob Caputo (Author)

Short description:
My goal is to get my pictures published in National Geographic. Therefore the inside tips from these great writers/photographers are invaluable.

The Joy of Photographing People 
by Eastman Kodak Company (Author)

Short description:
This book was written before the digital camera was born. It is full of photo tips and good advice.

Stock Photography Books

Selling Photography
by Roger Antrobus (Author)

Short description:
Lee Frost describes what makes the most commercially successful pictures – he explains what to aim for and how to get the most commercially viable photos.


Photos That Sell: The Art of Successful Freelance Photography
by Lee Frost (Author)

Short description:
This is the bible for freelance photography.


Good Photojournalism Books

Pictures on a Page: Photo-Journalism, Graphics and Picture Editing
by Harold Evans (Author)

Short description:
This is my favorite photography book.  This is the book I have learned most from.
It is about news photography but has information that is valuable for all types of photographers.


Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism (Associated Press Handbooks)
by Brian Horton (Author)

Short description:
This book gives a great inside look at photojournalism. It is an easy read and full of information and useful tips.


Photojournalism, Sixth Edition: The Professionals' Approach 
by Kenneth Kobre (Author)

Short description:
If you are studying photojournalism, you must read this book.

Be Creative - Best Creative Photography Books

The Creative Photographer: A Complete Guide to Photography by John Ingledew (Author)

Short description:
This book is designed to meet the needs of photography, art, and design students as well as beginners. It approaches photography in a bit different and more creative way.

Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography
by Bryan Peterson (Author)

Short description:
This book will help photographers to see things from a new angle and avoid the visual bad habits that lead to dull, uninventive images.


What photography books do you recommend?



By Hakon

2021-06-06 11:33:07




2022-03-03 22:40:57

1. "Examples. The making of 40 photographs" by Ansel Adams. The backstories of some of Adam's most famous photosgraphs. 2. "Art & Fear. Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. " David Bayless and Ted Orland. Written by teachers, one of which described his job to his young daughter "I teach people how to draw". She replies "oh, do they forget?" 3. "On Being a Photographer. " David Hurn. Observations from a Magnum photographer and teacher.

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