Top 7 Books Every Professional Photographer Should Read

Michael Gabriel by Michael Gabriel on

No matter what your profession is, embracing opportunities to improve and develop your craft and skills is important. Companies often come up with seminars and workshops for their employees with the hope that these will help them become more efficient, effective and productive.

In photography, the constant hunger or yearning for learning is very important. Apart from joining seminars and workshops, though, photographers can also indulge in a good book or two. Reading will help photographers absorb details in a more creative, interesting and colorful manner. This will also help photographers reach out and deliver their messages across different niches.

As there are quite a lot of books in the market that professional photographers can benefit from, the best thing to do is choose the ones with the most benefits. Here are seven books that every professional photographer should read and keep in his or her collection.

1. Slightly Out of Focus (Modern Library War) by Robert Capa

Slightly Out of Focus

Friedmann Endre Erno is better known as Robert Capa, photographer and photojournalist extraordinaire who is famous for his war photographs. He is also recognized as one of the founders of Magnum Photos, which was a cooperative agency for freelance photographers all over the world.

Slightly Out of Focus chronicles Capa’s journey through World War II. It shows his photographic masterpieces. He gives us detailed images of the men and women of war; those who were caught in the crossfire and those who were right in the heart of it.

Filled with Capa’s endearing humor, this war book is a must for serious documentary photographers.

2. The Great LIFE Photographers by the Editors of LIFE and Contributors John Leongard and Gordon Parks

The Great LIFE Photographers

This book is a collection of the best work of LIFE Magazine’s photographers, including guests whose creative and vivid masterpieces were featured in the magazine. What makes this an interesting read is the fact that it does not only show the pictures, it also gives readers an inside look at the people who create the beautiful and vivid images.

The Great LIFE Photographers is where you will find all the firsts and most defining moments of history, like that of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Jackie Kennedy and John Jr; and even the Beatles. This is definitely the book of life; and the book for all those who love life.

3. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

Making Ideas Happen

This is one of two books in the list that does not deal directly with photography. Nevertheless, Making Ideas Happen will be a good help for professional photographers because it is all about turning big and small ideas into reality. The tips and tricks in this book will help professional photographers bring their career to a higher, more productive level.

4. The Complete Guide to Digital Photography by Michael Freeman

The Complete Guide To Digital Photography

Presented in an easy-to-understand manner, this book is the most complete and updated guide on digital photography that you can find. There are insights regarding how to choose the right camera, which equipment is best to use, as well as more complex issues like digital enhancing. Attention-grabbing photographs and illustrations make this book perfect not only for professional photographers, but for hobbyists and beginners as well.

5. The Underwater Photographer: Digital and Traditional Techniques by Martin Edge

The Underwater Photographer

Underwater photography expert Martin Edge offers a book that’s filled with useful tips and ideas about taking pictures under and around water. The Underwater Photographer is your personal tutor for practically everything you need to know about creating excellent shots of the colorful marine life.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional photographer, you’ll find the captivating illustrations and images helpful in giving you an idea of how things should be done. What’s more, you will find useful discussions about how to maximize the use of point and shoot cameras when shooting underwater.

This book is a must-have because of all the secrets and techniques it freely shares. You’ll learn all about proper lighting, camera choice, what kind of filters to use and other tricks for coming up with incredibly vivid underwater shots.

6. The Photographer’s Mind: Creative Thinking for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman

The Photographers Mind

Another book by Michael Freeman, this book discusses issues like visual design and photographic composition. It digs deep into the mind of the photographer and comes up with great insights on how one can become more artistic and creative. It’s like a peek into the process that goes on in the mind of a good photographer.

If you want to communicate effectively with your audience, this is a must-have for you.

7. Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro

Tao Of Photography

The second book in the list that does not talk directly about the technical aspects of photography, this is a must-have for all photographers, beginner or professional. Tao of Photography is an adventure into the Taoist teachings that are integrated into the practice of creative photography. Reading this book will inspire you to become the best in what you do.

Although it does not offer tips for improving your photographic skills, it will help you find a better way of seeing and understanding the world, so much so that your photographic creations also grow and develop beautifully.


It’s not included in the list, but Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith is also a goldmine for professional photographers.

It’s not a technical book or a showcase of stunning photos, but it is a useful guide for those who want to market their work well. The book is filled with practical selling strategies that will help you come up with innovative ideas for marketing your skills and your masterpieces. This is one must-have for professional photographers who want productivity in the truest sense of the word.

These are just seven of the best books for professional photographers. Many are still bound to come out as ideas continue to develop and evolve. The books in this list, however, are the ones that are for keeps. You can use them anytime, anywhere – no matter where you are in your career. Remember, though, that if you want to produce good and effective pictures, the first book that you should read, understand and keep in heart and mind is your camera’s manual. This is the first step to a productive, creative and exciting career as a professional photographer.

Happy reading!

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