5 Books Every Photographer Should Read

Every time I think that I am out of inspiration and out of ideas, I head to our bookshelf. It’s huge, and jammed full of books of all shapes and sizes (those tiny kids board books are just so hard to store!). I let my eyes browse over the titles, and within moments something amazing happens: I relax. In front of me is a lifetime’s worth of ideas and inspiration – mine for the taking. I pick up any book that interests me, and start to flip.

Maybe I don’t get more than 5 minutes in before I’m called to go play dinosaurs. Maybe I get a full hour of reading done while the baby sleeps in my arms. But almost without fail I find my brain fills up with inspiration with a book in my hands, and I feel a renewed sense of energy.

Our bookshelf has books from all genres, and that alone is something I find very enjoyable. But today I’ll share 5 books for photographers from our bookshelf that are immensely inspiring. They’re great for any type of photographer, and I’d highly recommend you check them ALL out!


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.


From National Geographic phototographer, Sam Abell, comes this magnificent collection of imagery. You’ll find incredible portraits, landscapes, street photography and still life. Two things stand out most to me in this book. One, Sam Abell has a distinctive style that can be felt regardless of the subject matter he’s shooting. And two, he is a master of photojournalism and story telling (similar but different) which he beautifully blends together.

I think this is a book every photographer should own, and one of the few books I find myself consistently revisiting for photographic inspiration.


Steve McCurry is the photographer of one of the most recognized photographs ever taken (the Afghan girl with the incredible eyes). It’s strange when you start to learn about a photographer and you’ve seen and know of their work before you even know of them – it’s a testament to the impact that photography can have on people and the world. Despite his most famous photo Steve McCurry has had (and continues to have) the most astounding career in photography. The Iconic Photographs is a book that showcases that astounding career. The book itself is relatively large which does justice to the breathtaking prints. This book will provide endless amounts of inspiration – as well as the motivation to be a better photographer.


Some of the most awe-inspiring wild life photography you’ll ever see. This new edition features photographs from two previous albums presented much larger (15 x 13 inches) and beautifully cloth bound. The print quality of this book is the best I’ve ever seen, and definitely something you want to see in real life. A book worth collecting!


Something a bit different for this last one. The War of Art isn’t a photography book per se, but rather a book about how to create art. Resistance to work is a problem that plagues any creative. The War of Art boldly exposes resistance for what it is (in all it’s forms); an obstacle every artist needs to overcome. 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.

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