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Friday, 11 December 2015


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I enjoy this book by Orland. Nice mixture of memoir and photographs....


I have found Stephen Shore's The Nature of Photographs: A Primer to be both perplexing and invaluable. I have been able to understand it in new ways every time I consult it. I feel like it acts as both a guide to looking at photographs as well as a guide for making them. Its sparse commentary allows the patient reader some time time and space to explore.

There needs to be a single coffee-table book with the "greatest" famous photographs all included.
There are lots of these for paintings.

Thanks for posting all the suggestions. As someone new to photography it's easy to get lost in the sea of books out there. I think my reading list is now well, and fully stocked for the foreseeable future.

I was a bit overwhelmed with the initial list as I had never read any of them -- and perhaps I should. I've been trying to figure out which one or two or three to start with and now the list has expanded.

Oh, my!

Think I'll go outside and shoot some photos, instead.

I'll suggest one you recommended when you were on the Pentax-Discuss mail List a few years ago. It has been available under two titles, "Photographs, George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y." or "Photography from 1839 to today" (ISBN 9783822870730 seems to apply to both titles)
It's a small (6 x 8 inches) but hefty (2-1.2 inches thick and about five pounds weight) tome that covers a massive amount of territory in one volume with about 700 images. The only downside is that the photos are limited in size by the small dimensions of the book but it's still a great reference. Seems to be out of print now but second hand copies don't seem to be hard to come by.

I find Sontag's book "on photography" inspiring, as it makes me reflect what photography is. why, instead of how.

Any of the Lustrum Press series on photography including "Fashion", "Nude","Landscape", "Portrait", "Contact" as well as the two volumes on "Darkroom". It is insightful to read of how master photographers approach the subjects.
I suspect Sally Mann's "Hold Still" will become a classic in the literature of photography. She may even be a better writer than photographer.

I wonder if there is a book from which a fish can lear to ride a bike. I bet it would be just as useful.

Always late to the party, but the books I learned most from were the Leica Manual, Ansel Adams' The Print and The Negative, and the Time-Life series on photography. All of them were from the late seventies, so I guess that dates me.

The book I learned most from about digital imaging was a small publication by Stephen Johnson in the early nineties called Making A Digital Book. It was about how he created his book The Great Central Valley using digital techniques before that was a common practice. He shot film and scanned his negatives.

Beauty In Photography by Robert Adams is a small book to hold, but one that leaves a big impression.

Geoff Dyer's The Ongoing Moment is a book that'll help you see that you not being first to shoot man in a hat is no bad thing

Image Makers Image Takers by Anne - Celine Jaeger is for anybody who's interested in hearing what some of the biggest names in photography have to say. The book contains interviews with art directors, curaters, agents, and photographs like Alec Soth & Mary Ellen Mark and more

Picked up some very interesting ones I hadn't heard of from your original post and the comments. Books can be especially useful when you are making the transition between different ways of thinking and working. Three that I've found rewarding when I was trying to do something a bit more thoughtful are Paul Hill's Approaching Photography (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Approaching-Photography-Paul-Hill/dp/1861083238), Stephen Shore's The Nature of Photographs (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nature-Photographs-Primer-Stephen-Shore/dp/0714859044/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1449873228&sr=8-1&keywords=shore+nature+photographs) and Magnum Contact Sheets (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Magnum-Contact-Sheets-Center-Photography/dp/0500543992). The first two made me concentrate on the content of photographs and think about why I was taking them anyway. Both are also terrific anthologies in their own right. The Magnum book is great at helping to understand and apply the fine choices that have to be made between slight variations for something to be really satisfying and interesting rather than just OK. I come back to these more than any others when I've got stuck or run out of ideas.

Dear Folks,

Since this won't take one cent out of any other author's pocket, I don't feel it's inappropriate to mention...

If you still do film photography and darkroom printing, you'd be crazy to not have a copy of POST EXPOSURE...

... 'cause it's FREE!


And worth every penny, I daresay. Your money back, 100% guaranteed, if not completely satisfied.

pax / Ctein

In the last few years I have tried to teach some friends and relatives the technical basics. Some of them did not have a clue about photography. The main problem is the overkill. So people tend to be busy with brands, megapixels, megazooms, motordrives, photoshop or silly things like the rule of thirds before knowing anything about let’s say aperture in relation to depth of field.

It’s hard to find a book or a website with a simple, straight, no nonsense introduction to photography. (Hopefully one day Ctein will write one; he’s good at separating chaff from wheat).

‘Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs’ & ‘Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs of People’ by Henry Carroll are two recent books that seem okay. I did not buy nor read them, but this is the kind of introduction I was thinking of.

cambrigeincolour.com is a good website, but already a bit too complex for a starter. And the chapter ’How to Photograph Art, and just about anything else’ on dallasartsrevue.com is very sympathetic.

Of course there are many interesting monographs or philosophical books about photography as an art, the role it has in our society et cetera. But as with all education it all begins with the right basics.

“The Principals of Composition in Photography” by Andreas Feininger was a fundamental book for me on my long photographic journey.

Long out of print, but available second hand, this slim little volume is for me is the book on composition from which I have learnt the most.

Some of his opinions on leading lines and S curves are surprising.

Beg, borrow or steal a copy of this book.

Ansel Adams Examples is also very good, and a good companion to his negative and print. The story behind many of his most iconic images.

Robert Hudyma recommended Polaroid Land Photography by Adams. I still have the book and it was one of the few photo books that made the move out of Wisconsin this summer. I then reread the book this fall for the first time since 1980. It speaks of Ansel's delight with being able to accomplish instant reviews of an image and foretells my assumption that Ansel would have truely embraced digital imaging. You can get the book on Amazon for under $3.

I confess I kept this as one of his books because the cover shot is an image I am fortunate enough to own. I purchased it in 1978 assuming it was from a standard negative and was interested to discover it was from a Polaroid negative.

The book also first gave me the marketing idea of sometimes providing a client of my photographs a digital book that has as its cover an image that matches the enlargement they have purchased. I usually do this for any image that is printed at least 50". I pass that on as a recommended tip to my fellow photographers.

I find that my two most recommended instructional book authors are Bryan Peterson and Michael Freeman.
Always Bryan first because of his enthusiasm for developing your creativity and taking ownership of your image. I was a fan of his books and took a 4 day workshop when he was in town. Within the first hour of the workshop he completely changed my approach. Freeman is the books after Bryan has created the spark, slightly more academic in his approach.

I'm a bit late with this, but anyway... I would second Stephan Shore's The Nature of Photography and Robert Adams' Beauty in Photography, and add another by Robert Adams, Why People Photograph.

Another photo book, suitable for holy days-


Hugh's comment about "The Shy Photographer" intrigued me, but when I followed your link to Amazon, it looked like no copies were available. Searching for "Shy Photographer" found a different listing for the book with modestly priced hardcovers and robotically-priced paperbacks available. I seem to remember that you only get a cut on directly-linked sales, so you might want to update the link in Hugh's comment.

Double Take: a comparative look at photographs, Richard Whelan. 1981, oop.
Pairs of B&W photos taken at the same location by different (mostly) well-known film photographers - interesting to contemplate compositional choices, etc.

"Any" decent history of photography survey text with adequately reproduced photographs.

The three books by Michael Freeman "The photographer's ____" (eye, mind,vision) - basic composition, the sort of thing that one learns in studio art classes.

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