5 Books That Made Me a Better Photographer

I consider myself an avid reader. I’ll read maybe 20 or so books a year. I rather read more, but sometimes life and time get in the way. During my foray into photography I’ve read countless books on how to do this and how to shoot that. In all the books I read these 5 books made me a better photographer and I’m grateful for it.

The Creative Fight – Chris Orwig

I want to say I found this book, I believe, through a suggestion by Chase Jarvis on social media. I read it when I was trying to find what made me happy and what I really meant to do with my life and this book ties perfectly into that. In this book Chris talks about the creative process and how to get inspired to do your best work and ultimately live your best life. The book is a mix of photography and empowering yourself to be better and happier. There are questions and tasks at the end of chapters meant really for you to be honest with yourself. This book put me on a better path because when you’re honest with yourself it makes life that much easier and ultimately you’re more happy because you’re honest with yourself.

Peter Read Miller On Sports Photography

Peter Read Miller is one of the most prolific sports photographers out there. I knew his work from his photos covering numerous Super Bowls, Olympics etc. from his days as sports photographer for Sports Illustrated. When I first started out in sports photography I was missing shots like crazy. My shutter would be firing, but I either got the beginning or the ending of the play; never the actual play if that makes sense. It wasn’t until I picked up his book and read a sentence that basically said, “Don’t press the shutter until the action is about to happen.” Changed my sports photography forever. I was taking less frames and I was nailing the action sequence. His book covers a wide variety of sports with endless tips and stories. A definite must for any sports photographer or aspiring one.

The Hot Shoe Diaries – Joe McNally

If there was such thing as the godfather of flash it would be Joe. He knows so much about light. How to shape it, control it etc. and that comes from years of practice at National Geographic, Time, Sports Illustrated and other institutions he has photographed for. In this book I learned how he uses flash for a wide variety of subjects in a wide variety of locations. He talks about how he goes about lighting the situation and as well as some personal insight into either the subject or location. Honestly the best part of this book are his hand drawn lighting diagrams on a Dunkin Donuts napkin.

I’ve read his books, but I’ve also had the pleasure of attending one of his seminars about light. Fascinating how deep his knowledge is and the way he tells stories is amazing as well. Also a very humble guy with a sense of humor that makes you like him as a person even more. I’m not sure if he still is touring the country giving seminars about lighting, but if he is, you need to sign up and go.

The Art of Bird Photography – Arthur Morris

You must be asking yourself how a book on bird photography made me a better photographer? Also raise your hand if you knew I was into birding and bird photography. When I was struggling nailing exposure with a dark subject on a bright background or a bright subject on a dark background I had picked up this book and in it Arthur had a diagram on exposure compensation for almost every situation imaginable. The lights turned on, skies cleared, angels sung hyms of glory. That diagram alone made the absolute clearest sense on how to properly use exposure compensation and to this day, what I learned on those two pages I use consistently when making a photograph.

Photography Q&A – Zack Arias

I want to say I stumbled upon Zack and his work thanks to Chase Jarvis. I think a Chase theme might be developing. Zack and his OneLight book/dvd taught me the secret to lighting; mastering the inverse square law. From there I followed him everywhere on social media, even his Tumblr account. This book is pretty much all his posts from Tumblr. It is people asking him questions about gear, life, business etc. and he Zack gives his unfiltered advice and opinions. The business aspect of how much to charge and why is why I charge the way I charge for my services. Sometimes it takes someone who’s been there before to show you a shortcut they learned to help you out along the way and that is what this book is. It is filled with wisdom, advice, humor and honesty.

What are some other books that you’ve read that have made you a better photographer? List them in the comments below.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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