Recommended Reading for Photo Fans: 32+ Books from B&H’s Bestseller List

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Here’s a hot tip: In addition to photo, video, and audio gear, as well as other tech products, B&H carries thousands of books and tutorials covering the fields of photography, video, audio and computers, plus inspirational titles to get your creative juices flowing. For all you bibliophiles out there, we’ve compiled this shortlist of must-have publications spanning photography basics, photo careers, marketing and promotion, business practices, teaching photography, lighting technique, specialty photo subjects, creative inspiration, personal journeys and more. Peruse the options and expand your horizons with a good book!

Photography Basics and Beyond

Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual, 3rd revised edition

By Henry Horenstein

A staple of Photo 101 classes for more than 40 years, Henry Horenstein published the first edition of this black and white photography primer in the analog era, shortly after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, where he is now a professor. The widespread resurgence of analog processes and the allure of the black and white darkroom has extended this book’s relevance to a new generation of shutterbugs. The third edition has been redesigned and updated to encompass a wider range of films and printing papers, and a portfolio section with images by notable contemporary photographers. A second book by Horenstein, Digital Photography: A Basic Manual, offers a basic introduction to all things digital, with tutorials on digital printing methods, image editing, and more.

Little Brown Book: Black and White Photography, Third Revised Edition by Henry Horenstein

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera, 4th edition

By Bryan Peterson

Bryan Peterson is famous for teaching complex photographic subjects clearly and effectively. His ability to demystify the exacting concepts of exposure in photography, and to explain the fundamentals of light, aperture, and shutter speed, as well as how these elements interact with and influence one another is unparalleled. Peterson’s skill with a camera and way with words makes the fourth edition of Understanding Exposure a classic resource for photographers of all experience levels. In addition to the basics, Peterson shows you how to find the right exposure even in tricky situations. He also explores filters, flashes, and light, and discusses the best methods for taking meter readings, techniques for freezing action, and ways to boost (or lower) sharpness and contrast. If this volume is already in your library, check out the other titles by Peterson also available from B&H.

Amphoto Book: Understanding Exposure, 4th Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels, 6th Edition

By Robert Hirsch

Known as the Bible of Color Photography, this pioneering textbook is the thinking photographer's guide to color image-making. Now in its sixth edition, Hirsch mixes a conceptual and pragmatic approach to his subject matter, with chapters that range from a concise history of color photography to color strategies to the visual language color design. Stimulating assignments encourage the reader to be adventurous and to take responsibility for learning and working independently, while featured images from nearly 300 contemporary artists, professionals, teachers and students reflect current photographic trends, as well as push the limits of what defines color photographic practice. For those interested, several other books by Hirsch feature pictures by notable photographers along with detailed explanations about how they were made, providing a well of inspiration for photographers seeking creative techniques.

Focal Press Book: Exploring Color Photography: From Film to Pixels

Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set: Parts 1-5

By Scott Kelby

Photoshop guru and best-selling author Scott Kelby covers all technical aspects of digital photographic practice in this five-volume, 1296-page box set. Featuring tutorials on how to begin taking pictures and ways to develop your practice into a repeatable and dependable tool, a wide range of topics are covered including using flash, shooting close-ups, portraiture, sports coverage, travel photography, as well as how to build and design a studio from scratch. If you’re just thinking about getting into digital photography, or you have a new digital camera at your side and a confused look on your face, this may be the book to smooth the wrinkles from your forehead and get you out shooting successful digital images. And if you already have this set, be sure to check out some of Kelby’s 33 other great educational titles available from B&H.

Peachpit Press Book: Scott Kelby's Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1-5

Photo Careers

Photography Careers: Finding Your True Path

By Mark Jenkinson

Mark Jenkinson has spent more than 25 years as a professional photographer, and as a photo educator at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In Photography Careers, he shares his knowledge about starting out in the field by presenting a variety of available career options, to help readers find unique approaches in a saturated market. With a format derived from his college course, The Business of Art, this book includes interviews with a variety of successful photographers and industry professionals in different specialties, many of whom were former students. Real world insights from creatives pursuing fashion photography, cinematography, retouching, fine art sales, and photo editing, among other careers, offer best practices for aspiring graduate students, budding professionals, and those looking to start their own businesses.

Focal Press Book: Photography Careers: Finding Your True Path

How to Succeed in Commercial Photography: Insights from a Leading Consultant

By Selina Maitreya

With more than 30 years in the field, photography consultant Selina Maitreya shares proven tips for building and maintaining a photography business to meet your creative and professional goals. Broken into six parts focused on Values, Vision, Team, Tools, Persistence and Faith, she offers insights on such themes as defining your visual value, the realities of representation, working through creative blocks, and how to survive during difficult times. Her own wisdom is blended with advice from professional commercial photographers, who share their real-world experience and knowledge, while input from clients, agents, and other consultants helps to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of what it truly takes to be successful in the photo industry today.

Allworth Book: How To Succeed In Commercial Photography by Selina Maitreya

Marketing and Promotion

The Photographer's Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion, 5th edition

By Maria Piscopo

In this informative guide, veteran creative services consultant Maria Piscopo offers practical, easy-to-understand advice about building a solid plan for your photo business, incorporating the topics of self-promotion, advertising, direct marketing, public relations, and the Internet. Organized in six sections, Piscopo covers everything from getting started in business, to marketing your work to different types of clients, to best practices for business management and researching new markets, to the available types of marketing and advertising options to consider, to creating portfolios and public relations pieces, to writing a marketing plan for your business or promoting your personal work. Now in its fifth edition, with updated coverage of social media and website development, this book also features interviews and case studies with 37 consumer and commercial photographers, and photo reps.

Allworth Book: The Photographer's Guide To Marketing and Self-Promotion by Maria Piscopo

No Plastic Sleeves: Portfolio and Self-Promotion Guide for Photographers and Designers, 2nd edition

By Larry Volk and Danielle Currier

A photographer, Volk, and a graphic designer, Currier, team up to address all facets of portfolio production from their respective mediums. The book’s second edition incorporates a special emphasis on self-promotion and the role of blogs and social media to the successful dissemination of your work and ideas. Presented in eight steps, No Plastic Sleeves takes you through the process of evaluating and editing your work, developing a distinguishing brand concept, producing effective promotional materials, and designing a distinctive portfolio in print, as well as a comprehensive online presence. Including hundreds of photos, and successful design examples, as well as advice from industry professionals spanning multiple perspectives, No Plastic Sleeves is a thorough guide to the process of conceptualizing, designing, and developing all the interconnected aspects of your total portfolio.

Focal Press Book: No Plastic Sleeves: Portfolio and Self-Promotion Guide for Photographers and Designers

Professional Business Practices

ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition

Edited by Susan Carr

Known to many as the "photography business bible," this book is a treasure trove of insight and practicality, brimming with articles from successful photographers and photo industry leaders. Containing more than 50 chapters, this seventh edition addresses essential legal and business issues, offering guidance on licensing images, estimating prices, protecting your assets, marketing, working with clients, and more. As a leading professional association for photographers, the ASMP provides advocacy, education and resources such as this book. ASMP’s past president Susan Carr, editor of this edition, penned two equally valuable books on photography business practices, which are available here.

Allworth ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition

Business and Legal Forms for Photographers, 4th edition

By Tad Crawford

A valuable resource for contracts and business agreements of many types, Crawford’s book is a compendium of just about every form a photographer will ever need, featuring more than 30 business documents covering everything from assignment contracts to delivery memos to model releases. Whether you're just starting out as a photographer, or you're an established pro, this paperback volume and accompanying CD-ROM will put a bevy of forms and contracts at your fingertips. Additionally, Crawford covers several related topics important to understanding the legal aspects of the business. For budding photographers, Crawford offers his insights in two books about Starting a Freelance Photography Career.

Allworth Book: Business and Legal Forms for Photographers, by Tad Crawford

Understanding the Business of Entertainment: The Legal and Business Essentials All Filmmakers Should Know

By Gregory Bernstein

Gregory Bernstein knows the entertainment business from the inside out, having worked in both the creative and business sides of the field as an entertainment attorney, studio executive, and award-winning screen writer. In his comprehensive guide to the business aspects of this industry, Bernstein provides readers with valuable information needed to break into the business and succeed. Whether you want to direct, produce, write, edit, photograph, or act in movies, you will gain needed insight on everything from how to find how to find work in your chosen field to key provisions in employment agreements that you need to know. Written in a clear and engaging tone, this indispensable resource includes plenty of real-world examples to bring business and legal concepts to life.

Focal Press Book: Understanding the Business of Entertainment: The Legal and Business Essentials All Filmmakers Should Know

Teaching Photography:

Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the 21st Century, Educators Share Thoughts and Assignments

By Michelle Bogre

Photo educator Michelle Bogre interviewed 47 colleagues with an international scope to compile this survey of photographic education in the first decade of the 21st Century. The themes of these conversations explore why students should study photography, the value of a formal photography degree, whether video and multimedia should be an essential part of a photographic curricula, the challenges of teaching photography today, as well as changes in photographic education overall. The book’s second half shares 70 photography assignments of varying difficulty levels, some paired with examples of how students completed them. A second book by Bogre, Photography as Activism: Images for Social Change, is an informative primer for how to use your camera to draw attention to a cause; be it political, social, or environmental.

Focal Press Book: Photography 4.0: A Teaching Guide for the 21st Century, Educators Share Thoughts and Assignments

Teaching Photography: Tools for the Imaging Educator, 2nd edition

By Glenn Rand, Jane Alden Stevens and Garin Horner

As the three authors of Teaching Photography note, while the photographic community is rife with talented and creative practitioners and artists, making great photographs does not always translate into an ability to teach effectively. The second edition of this photographic education resource approaches this topic by stressing the how and why of the education, rather than simply the techniques to be taught. Through chapters such as Learning, Knowing, Owning; Importance of Questions; Collaborative Learning; Planning and Changing; and so on, the goal of this book is to encourage the collaboration of teaching and learning that occurs between teacher and student. Illustrated in part by student-generated images and interspersed with inspirational quotes, this volume also covers specific teaching points for working in an online/hybrid classroom environment, developing rubrics, using digital technology, and techniques for inspiring conversations and critiques.

Focal Press Book: Teaching Photography: Tools for the Imaging Educator

The Photography Teacher's Handbook: Practical Methods for Engaging Students in the Flipped Classroom

By Garin Horner

The Photography Teacher’s Handbook is an educator’s resource focused on developing active, flipped learning environments, in and out of the photo classroom. Included in the book’s four sections is practical advice from more than 100 respected photography educators, featuring ready-to-use methods to increase student engagement and motivation. Using the latest research on the cognitive science of effective learning, Horner presents strategies to inspire students to collaborate, explore, and internalize photographic principles and concepts. From step-by-step instructions that explain how and why to flip a photography classroom, to hands-on exercises and activities to help students take charge of their learning experience, the insightful practices in this book reimagine traditional teaching methods in favor of a dynamic, teacher-guided, learner-centered approach.

Focal Press Book: The Photography Teacher's Handbook: Practical Methods for Engaging Students in the Flipped Classroom

Lighting Technique

The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World's Top Shooters

By Joe McNally

Lighting master Joe McNally has a distinctive way with words, which is at the fore in this insightful book. Using his own photos to illustrate a wide range of techniques, McNally reveals invaluable tricks and tips, while sharing the stories behind each shot and the challenges inherent in different types of assignments. A second book by McNally, Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash, is available as an e-book, allowing you to read and learn on the go.

New Riders The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters

50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer

By Gregory Heisler

A former assistant for Arnold Newman, Gregory Heisler is one of professional photography's most respected portraitists. In this first-ever showcase of his work, Heisler shares 50 iconic portraits of celebrities, athletes, and world leaders, along with fascinating, thoughtful, often humorous behind-the-scenes stories about how the images were made. At the back of the book, an illustrated index offers details about Heisler’s lighting techniques and gear.

Amphoto Book: Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer's Photographer

Creative Inspiration

Camera & Craft: Learning the Technical Art of Digital Photography

By Andy Batt, Candace Dobro and Jodie Steen

This practical manual combines the building blocks of digital photography technique and workflow with insights from contemporary image makers and photo industry pros, to help you think through your process and improve your technical know-how. Batt, Dobro and Steen explore photographic practice together with nine guest photographers, covering everything from Photo 101 tips to what professionals think about as they look through the viewfinder, and how they work with clients. You’ll also find inventive exercises that will challenge you to engage with your tools―all with the goal of helping you to work more creatively, gaining a solid balance of technical know-how and aesthetic vision.

Focal Press Book: Camera & Craft: Learning the Technical Art of Digital Photography

The Elements of Photography, Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images, 2nd edition

By Angela Faris Belt

Author, photographer and educator Angela Faris Belt combines an instructional guidebook with inspirational images meant to push photographers to improve both their technique and their photographic vision. Centered around the basic elements of metering and exposure, a photographic frame and its borders, the quality of focus determined by aperture or lens, shutter speed in relation to time and motion, and the physical media used to create an image, each chapter is backed up by practical exercises to demonstrate how photography’s technical attributes affect visual outcomes and meaning. Featuring the work of more than 40 photographers, the book is extensively illustrated with more than 300 color photographs, ranging from commercial photography to fine-art landscapes.

Focal Press Book: The Elements of Photography, Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images

Inspiration in Photography: Training Your Mind to Make Great Art a Habit

By Brooke Shaden

Avid self-portraitist Brooke Shaden firmly believes that, as a photographer, it’s possible to train your mind to see inspiration in any situation. She wrote this book to show you how, aiming to help you develop inspiration using exercises based on your everyday surroundings. After introducing readers to her creative process, Shaden shares tips on how to plan, compose, and shoot the colorful, atmospheric, fairy-tale-like fine art photographs that are her hallmark, so you can adapt her methods to your own photographic style. Straddling the line between insight and instruction, Shaden’s book offers readers a useful roadmap to recognizing and developing inspiration whenever, and wherever, you need it.

Focal Press Book: Inspiration in Photography

Specialty Photo Subjects: Analog and Alternative Processes

The Camera

The Negative

The Print

By Ansel Adams

This legendary triumvirate is widely considered Adams’ most important and lasting contribution to the artistic, practical, and technical aspects of black-and-white photography. Revised many times since initial publication in the early 1950s, these photography classics are more relevant than ever for photographers eager to embrace analog processes over the ubiquitous digital realm. If you already have these titles on your book shelf, B&H offers several other notable Ansel Adams books too.

Little Brown Book: Ansel Adams - The Camera

Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, 2nd edition

By Michelle Bates

Michelle Bates has been a fan of plastic cameras since first discovering the Holga in 1991. These low-tech tools are not only fun, they offer a way of seeing the world from an entirely different perspective. In 2006, Bates authored the book Plastic Cameras, a comprehensive guide to this offbeat subject, now in its second edition. Starting with a history of these cameras and an explanation of where they come from, Bates goes on to offer extensive tips about subjects to photograph and how to deal with a variety of shooting situations. From prepping the camera to advanced camera modifications to working with flash, long exposures, infrared film, filters, and more, she covers the field. For a visual treat, images by 49 photographers, including 30 artist portfolios, illustrate the depth and range of what you can create for yourself.

Focal Press Book: Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity

The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, 3rd Edition

By Christopher James

This comprehensive technical and aesthetic resource for alternative photography covers historic processes and contemporary innovations, adaptations, techniques, and art. At 736 pages—and containing more than 700 illustrations that range from historical images to the work of modern-day pro shooters, teachers, and students—the book’s third edition features 28 chapters that present a broad array of processes, as well as traditional and digital contact negative production. Each chapter introduces the history of a technique, an overview of the process to be covered, a review of the chemistry involved, followed by practical and easy-to-follow image making guidance. Expanded chapters on wet plate collodion, gum bichromate, platinum/palladium, albumen, and calotype offer valuable detail about these popular techniques, while a reworked chapter on digital options places a stronger emphasis on digital integration with alternative process image-making. A revised opening and concluding essay discuss the rapidly changing nature of the medium, how photography is being redefined due to digital technology, and how alternative processes are becoming a new wave for those dedicated to handmade art.

Cengage Course Tech. The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, 3rd Edition

Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

By Christina Z. Anderson

Written by alternative processes expert Christina Z. Anderson, this two-part book on gum bichromate provides a step-by-step description of the gum printing process, while also showcasing 400 full-color images by more than 80 contemporary artists. From setting up the "dimroom" (no darkroom required!) to evaluating finished prints, readers will find everything needed to establish their practice at home with the simplest of setups. The featured images represent a variety of genres, including still lives, portraits, nudes, landscapes, cityscapes and more, ranging from monochrome to colorful, and from subtle to bold, to masterfully illustrate the myriad ways in which gum is conceptualized and practiced today.

Focal Press Book: Gum Printing: A Step-by-Step Manual, Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice

Photography Beyond Technique: Essays from F295 on the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes

Edited by Tom Persinger

In 2004, Tom Persinger founded F295, an international group of image makers seeking to push the boundaries of photographic practice through the intentional use and combination of photographic process and technique. From 2007 to 2015, the organization held regular symposia, as well as lectures, workshops and exhibitions, as an inquiry into contemporary photographic practice. Culling from these events, Persinger selected 20 artist lectures to create this book. These featured essays reveal the thoughts and methods of leading contemporary photographers, each of whom employs alternative, historical, or handmade processes and techniques. They also share a comprehensive view of the medium, believing that the choice of photographic process is just as important as the selection of subjects. While other books concentrate solely on process, or theory, or artistic intent, this title focuses on works in which these decisions are considered inseparable.

Focal Press Book: Photography Beyond Technique: Essays from F295 on the Informed Use of Alternative and Historical Photographic Processes

Documentary and Photojournalism

Photojournalism: The Professional’s Approach, 7th Edition

By Kenneth Kobre

Ken Kobré, founder of the photojournalism program at San Francisco State, penned the definitive book on photojournalism, delivering a blend of insightful interviews with professionals, practical techniques, and high-impact photographs. Often referred to as the "bible" of the industry, this seventh edition features updates on social media in photojournalism, shooting video on smart phones, and the use of drones to cover the news. Updated chapters on audio and video are joined by a revised and expanded business chapter, which outlines how to make a living in photojournalism. New interviews and case studies, including many from international locales, bring readers on assignment with industry greats, whose experiences provide guidance for how to take your work from a hobby to a profession.

Focal Press Book: Photojournalism, 7th Edition

Night Photography

Night Photography & Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark, 2nd edition

By Lance Keimig

Leading night photography expert Lance Keimig provides photographers with a thorough introduction to the nocturnal realm in this comprehensive reference on image making after dark. From historical context to tips on equipment and preparing for the “night photography mind shift” to coverage of a wide range of night photography techniques, readers will discover ways to capture images they never thought possible. Illustrated with clear, concise examples, charts and inspiring images by Keimig and 26 other contributors, this book’s second edition contains extensive coverage of light painting and drawing with light, encouraging readers to experiment with a dynamic component in their work.

Focal Press Book: Night Photography & Light Painting: Finding Your Way in the Dark

Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

By Gabriel Biderman and Tim Cooper

For beginning photographers seeking to explore photography after dark, this book by Gabriel Biderman and Tim Cooper offers an accessible introduction to the subject. Six chapters cover Equipment, Exposure, Composition, The Night Light, The Night Life, and Processing your Night Life, each ending with suggested assignments to give readers hands-on experience.

Peachpit Press Book: Night Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Personal Journeys/Memoirs

Road to Seeing

By Dan Winters

In this hardcover tome, award winning photographer Dan Winters shares his journey to becoming a photographer, recounting key moments that shaped his career. Along the way, he touches on everything from his photographic influences to creating a visual language to his own working methods to the need for key characteristics such as curiosity, awareness, and perseverance. At nearly 700 pages, and filled with memorable images by Winters, and many other photographers, Road to Seeing is both a personal memoir and an ode to artistic inspiration rolled into one.

Pearson Education Book: Road to Seeing by Dan Winters

It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

By Lynsey Addario

In this page-turning memoir, renowned conflict photographer Lynsey Addario describes her journey from an eccentric youth in suburban Connecticut to navigating the front lines of virtually every major theater of war in the 21st century. As a female photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys’ club of a profession, learning to strike a necessary balance rather than choosing between her career and a personal life. Her candid and personal narrative is illustrated by remarkable images that document the complex lives of her subjects, often in their most extreme moments. More than just a snapshot of life on the front lines, It’s What I Do bears witness to the human cost of war.

Penguin Book: It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about photography—but didn’t know where to find it

The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition

Editor in Chief, Michael R. Peres

Heavy enough to use as a doorstop, this definitive reference to all things photographic charts the trajectory of photographic processes and trends, plus contemporary applications, and new and evolving digital technologies. Produced by a team of world renowned practicing experts, headed by an eminent Rochester Institute of Photography professor, this encyclopedia features detailed descriptions about core concepts and facts relative to everything photographic, to provide the most accurate technical synopsis of photography—both historical and current—ever compiled.

Focal Press Book: The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography

To view the complete list of titles in the B&H bookstore, click here.

What’s your first choice for must-have photography, video, audio or computer books? Let us know in the box below.

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6 Comments

I read the book "It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War" By Lynsey Addario, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Photojournalism. It is a page turner, intermixing the love of photography to the terrors of war, terrorism, pride, love.
 

Hi Alexandre, thanks for writing in. So happy to read of your praise of Lynsey Addario's book; it is indeed a page turner and beautifully written. If you're looking for another great read within the same subject area, I would also highly recommend In the Light of Darkness by photojournalist Kate Brooks, who moved to Pakistan to photograph the impact of the U.S. foreign policy in the region over 10 years immediately following 9/11. The images and essays she shares are absolutely riveting. Happy reading, and thanks for spending time with the Explora blog!

Thank you for posting this link Donna C, however Christina Z. Anderson's wonderful book on Gum Printing is already featured in my story and linked in the body of the text. Happy reading and thanks for keeping up with the Explora blog!

Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson tought me exposure math (shutter speed, aperture, ISO); which I really struggled with, going through book after book until Bryan's. Worth every penny.  

Hey John,

Thanks for your comments and thanks for reading! If you misplace your book, check out my articles on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO!

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