Photography books worth your time - the visual language of photography

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
I thought I'd bump this thread back up.

I purchased this book and am about half way through:

Amazon.com: The Photographer's Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos (9780240809342): Michael Freeman: Books

This really is an excelent book on dealing with composition.

I have read fully this book as well:

Amazon.com: The Photographer's Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos (9780240815176): Michael Freeman: Books

Both books really compliment each other. I realized that after reading "The Photographer's Mind" that I probably should have read "The Photographer's Eye" first. However, I don't think it is necessary. Much of what is in "the Photographer's Eye" I already knew to begin with, but the book goes into composition, framing, and various elements more in detail. "The Photographer's Mind" deals more with intent and purpose of taking photography.

Both books together are a little over 40 bucks with beautiful pictures and many before and after type examples. I think both are great for the amature starting out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BBW

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
I have Freeman's "Perfect Exposure" ... he writes really well, and doesn't make the mistake of "dumbing down", so I'm not surprised you've found the others good.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
A few recent finds...

William Clift - Certain Places
Mark Klett - Revealing Territory, Photographs of the Southwest
David Carol - All My Lies Are True & Forty Miles of Bad Road

And I saw a copy of Lewis Baltz: Works at a local design bookstore and highly recommend it if you have the resources and inclination.
 
  • Like
Reactions: BBW

defektive

Veteran
May 4, 2011
43
Tasmania, Australia
Sam
I also have "The Photographer's Mind" which I was given as a present last Christmas. It is very well written and delves a lot deeper psychologically into the decision making process of photography than most instructional photography books. I have found it is not the sort of book I can sit down and read from cover to cover, in fact I think I am still on the first section - Intent. I probably only read a few pages every couple of weeks but it doesn't seem to matter as I can just pick it up and it continues to flow. I recommend this book highly if you want a thought provoking good read as well as some photography tips.

If you just want composition and exposure tips I suggest Brian Peterson's Photography Field Guide, I have found it to be an excellent reference book.

I have just been given a copy of John Freeman's The Photographer's Guide to Light which I haven't started yet so can't comment on. Just thought I'd mention it :biggrin:

For anyone who is interested in the history of Leica and Leica product reviews Erwin Puts has published a Leica Compendium (600 pages I think) that is available by contacting him through his website. I think he is only doing one print run so you may not want to leave it too long. It looks very comprehensive.

Cheers,
Sam
 
  • Like
Reactions: BBW

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
when I was at University, rather too many years ago to mention, thanks, my girlfriend gave me some copies of the "Photography Year Book", mostly from the 1950s ... I lapped them up ... unfortunately , my entire library plus every photo I took between 1970 and 2001 are now lost to me ... but I just found this one on the internet and bought it ... the vendor has a few more and I am going to visit him to see what I can do about nostalgia ... if you can find copies, they are a wonderful resource for learning about how to take good photographs ...

View attachment 35876
1955 by _loupe, on Flickr
 

andrewh973

Regular
Mar 13, 2011
43
NYC metro are
I second Roland Barthes' "Camera Lucida" -- probably his most accessible writing. Much of his works on semiology, however, just gave me a headache... were I to attempt to go through them today, the exercise would have a devastating effect on my marriage -- both in and out of the bedroom!

"Diana & Nikon", by Janet Malcolm. (Elegantly written essays on photography and culture -- easier to digest than Sontag).
"The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (essay), by Walter Benjamin (I come back to this every few years).
"How to See", by George Nelson
"Art and Illusion", by Rudolf Arnheim
"Design and Form: The Basic Course at the Bauhaus", by Johannes Itten
"If You Want To Write", by Brenda Ueland (Not about photography or image-making, per se, but more on the creative process and its life-long nurturing).
"Concerning the Spiritual in Art", by Wassily Kandinsky
"Paul Klee on Modern Art", by Paul Klee
"Picasso: A Life"; vols. 1, 2 and 3, by John Richardson
"Photography & Fascination", by Max Kozloff
"The Americans", by Robert Frank
"American Photographs", by Walker Evans
"Callahan", by John Szarkowski
"Emmet Gowin: Photographs"
"The World On My Doorstep", by Paul Strand
"Evelyn Hofer", edited by Susanne Breidenbach
"August Sander: Seeing, Observing and Thinking", published by Schirmer/Mosel
"Thomas Struth: Portraits". (I have the closest affinity to him of all the Dusseldorf School/Becher photographers).
 

Grant

Veteran
Nov 12, 2010
68
Lunenburg Nova Scotia
The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing" by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro
I have had this book for a while and read it a bunch of times. This is one of these books that I fell in love with, fell out of love with and fell in love with. It is a great book that caused me to think about life in general and photography in particular. While it is not my perfect book on photography it is a great book that is worth much more than a passing glance. I like stillshunter recommend it.
 

stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
123
Down Under
Mark
Thanks Grant. Again, I've not finished it so can't give a balanced assessment as yet. However, I did find the Learning to See section a little light on, and it borrowed heavily from Freeman Patterson's "Photography and the Art of Seeing" - actually 80% of the cited exercises are a paraphrase of the first few chapters of that book. I'm hoping they will end up being complementary....? I'm up to section III, but found Section I (which is covered in the YouTube piece) very, very informative, but very dense. It will need some re-reading I suspect.

I think this genre of books are quite interesting as they move the focus from the camera to the photographer....which is precisely the opposite of the loop people, such as myself, get into when my photos are wanting. "If I just had x, then it would all be good". :blush: There seems only so much a DMD (Decisive Moment Digital) can do, if the one controlling the buttons and dials isn't properly wired to think decisively.

Out of interest, how does "How to See", by George Nelson compare to the two above? It sounds as though it might sit in that genre.
 

pdh

Legend
Jan 2, 2011
123
I'll just pop in to say that this site - BookButler - Book Price Comparison -- is the just about the best resource I've come across for book shopping on the web ... a couple of years ago it found me an out-of-print academic book I needed for £3.75 when the best I could come up with elsewhere was about £80 ...

... sorry to have to tell the Australasian crew that that it is focused on Europe and North America ...
 

Grant

Veteran
Nov 12, 2010
68
Lunenburg Nova Scotia
stillshunter

Thanks for mention Freeman Patterson.

I love the work of Freeman Patterson but never mentioned him as he is Canadian and, well … we keep the best for ourselves :). The fact is I have no idea if his books are accessible outside of Canada. He has written about 18 books but they are now in short supply as he is switching to a new printer. I am told they will be available in the fall. "Photography for the Joy of It" is a book I recommend to my entry level students as it is a no nonsense book that teaches you exactly what you need to know and no superfluous nonsense that can get in the way. He had two books that are an absolute must for anyone that is interested in taking photography to a new level. Everyone interested in doing art photography should work there way through "Photography and the Art of Seeing" and then follow this up with "Photographing the World Around You" Once you have worked through these two books and if you still want more you should tackle "Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image."
 
  • Like
Reactions: BBW

stillshunter

Super Moderator Emeritus
Nov 5, 2010
123
Down Under
Mark
Well next you'll be holding onto Farley Mowat as well :wink:

Grant we certainly are familiar with Freeman Patterson in these parts. What first got me hooked was his book "Portraits of the Earth" - love the way he looks at our precious planet. I then moved to "Photography and the Art of Seeing". My only issue with this book is that I've yet to complete all his recommended exercises :blush:.....and honestly I think the utility of the content is in the practice.

Funny you should mention "Photographing the World Around You" and "Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image" as these were the next ones on my shopping list....well those and the featured book: The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Yes, you Canadians have spawned some folks very close to my heart. I mentioned Farley - one of my long-time heroes.....not to mention David Suzuki...and oh yes and of course Maple Syrup :wink:
 
  • Like
Reactions: BBW

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Farley Mowat is one of my absolute favorite writers. I first started reading him in college back in the 70s. From Never Cry Wolf, The People of The Deer....to his biographical account And No Birds Sang, which is very appropriate for this Memorial Day. I think I have read just about every book he has written, though I could be wrong.
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Such a well worn ship - wonderful colors in this scene, Grant. Now I'll have to go check out the SeaShepherd.org - this ship has great character.
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom