Nine Essential Photography Books To Learn And Take Better Photos

Nine essential photography books to learn and take better photos

In these times, books seem to be in the doldrums. Ebooks are perfect for technical topics. But the photography is worth having on paper to appreciate the work of the great masters. They will always help us learn and many are for continuous consultation, so we are going to recommend photography books of all kinds that help us improve.

One of the best ways to learn is to look at photographs. And that opportunity is offered by books. It is a selection of the best images, placed in such a way that they tell a story, so we also learn how to edit.

The problem is that it is difficult to find one that we like, that inspires us to go out on the street with the camera on our shoulders. Or if we just like to look, it continually invites us to open its pages to go to other worlds. So we are going to recommend the essential books that we can buy in bookstores and online stores.

The books that will improve our photographic head

It is not easy to recommend a photography book. It depends a lot on our tastes and sensibilities. Where one sees only shaky photos, another can find inspiration to continue working. For this reason, I am going to be a little eclectic so that you all find the perfect book to give or buy.

Recommending a book is a risk because you don’t know how the person asking you looks. Some like the strangest editions and the most inaccessible photobooks and forget the usual ones for those who are just starting, even those who shy away from directly printed pages. A good book can mark you and it is important to find it for yourself.

We must respect the classics, discover the contemporaries, and read everything we can get our hands on. We never know where inspiration will come from. In this world, you can learn from everyone.

‘The Pencil of Nature by William Henry Fox Talbot

'The Pencil of Nature' by William Henry Fox Talbot

It was long considered the first photography book in history, but recent studies have shown that it was ‘Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions’, by photographer Anna Atkins. Since it is impossible to find in stores, we are left with the inventor of the calotype.

This edition does not have the luxury of the original, but it opened the way for photographers to a new form of expression that we should all have as a reference. They are not great photographs, but they are among the first to be shown in a book.

‘Magnum. Contact Sheets’ by Kristen Lubben

'Magnum. Contact Sheets' by Kristen Lubben

This book from Lumen is the best we have to understand the scope and importance of the Magnum agency founded by Robert Capa, David Seymour “Chim”, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, Bill Vandivert, Maria Eisner, and Rita Vandivert. I would have liked to recommend a small book by Cartier Bresson that is now out of print and that can be sold second-hand for more than €100. But this one is perfect and reflects his entire legacy.

It is not used to see the agency’s great photographs, but to understand the process that was followed to arrive at them. Taking photos is not just about pressing a button, but rather a series of steps that are very well reflected on the contact sheets, all the photographs on the film developed on the same sheet.

‘The Americans’ by Robert Frank

'The Americans' by Robert Frank

One of the masterpieces in the history of photography. Everything changed with this book. The great Robert Frank paved how the camera was used to tell personal stories, not only to show reality through the eyes of a painter.

It is a difficult book for any neophyte in the field. It’s like wine, at first, you don’t like it, but then you enjoy it like never before with a good glass of wine in your hands surrounded by friends. Best of all, it eliminates all the paraphernalia of the technique, until it disappears by the force of pure images and photographic language.

‘400 Photographs’ by Ansel Adams

'400 Photographs' by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is different from Robert Frank in terms of subject matter and style. But we find ourselves with the same passion for photography. This book brings together 400 black and white photographs by the co-author of the zone system, an exposure and development technique that sought maximum quality.

Each of his photographs is a hymn to technical precision and spiritualism. His work on nature could be considered to be close to mysticism. In fact, in his memoirs, he says that he became a photographer after a revelation. A unique work in which the black and white work, the composition, and everything that surrounds the photographic act is perfect. So much so that many times it seems like a lie.

‘The Family of Man by Edward Steichen

'The Family of Man' by Edward Steichen

It is the catalog of the most important exhibition of the 20th century. It is a song to humanity in all its facets. Edward Steichen, director at the time of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After the horror of World War II, he had the idea of ​​showing the story of a human being from birth to death with all his emotions. It was such a success that today it is still displayed in a museum in Luxembourg. There are 503 images from 273 photographers. Some called it childish, but it marked several generations.

‘On Photography by Susan Sontag

The book that all photographers should have, that they have and that very few have read from cover to cover. It is a set of essays, written in the 70s, about the changes in the photographic image. If you want to think about what you do with the camera, you always have to reread it.

In its pages you find such interesting reflections as ‘Photography does not limit itself to reproducing the real, it recycles it.’ If you already have it in your library, dust it off and put it in your favorite reading corner. You will always return to him.

‘The photographic vision. Photography course for young photographers’ by Eduardo Momeñe

Probably the best book we can have in our library to know what photography is. It became an instant classic since it came out. Many readers would love for Eduardo to release a new edition full of illustrations. But surely the author’s goal is for us to search for everything he says.

It is an encyclopedia for any amateur and professional. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just started or have been carrying your camera for years. You always discover something and learn when you open it again. A jewel.

‘Look!: A Guide to Approaching Photography’ by Joel Meyerowitz

It is a unique book, with an original layout and cover, a space that simulates an eye. Joel Meyerowitz is one of the masters of color photography. He and one of the best teachers you can find. He is a much more modern classic than those who started with digital.

This book is aimed at teenagers, but in Spain, it was launched for all ages. And it is a success because, like Momeñe, it serves to get excited about photography.

‘Help Me Look!’ by Tino Soriano

This book by Tino Soriano was a true revolution. It became part of the essential books in photography schools for everything it tells and how it tells it. The subtitle is ‘The bible of graphic reporting’ and it couldn’t be more accurate.

If you want to find any type of information, any curiosity, or learn about another way of photography, do not hesitate to get up right now and go look for this book that will fascinate any amateur or not of photography.

If you get all these books, you will surely start to have a good photography library. There are many more in bookstores, in second-hand stores, and forgotten libraries. Being a photographer doesn’t just mean that you have the best camera and the most efficient program. A good book will help you more than the latest mobile phone to improve because the machine only offers you pixels and the books offer you ideas.