Shubham Verma

Wants to do somuchinsoless, literally don’t have space for anything else. Tech-addict, if that’s what they call a person who knows about Apple.

5 Must-Read Books To Become A Better Photographer


You might be thinking that photography is a practical subject and need no books to understand it. But NO! Even though the practice is important in photography but what will you practice if you don’t know the idea behind the concept of photography?

If you are a photographer and want to get to another level, the level which will answer all your questions of what was the need of photography and why is it still prevailing? Why are certain photographs awarded the Pulitzer & why not the others? Why is there a need to understand photographs and not just merely look and judge them?

All your questions will be answered by reading these books.

On Photography by, Susan Sontag (1977)

It was published in 1973, where Susan talked about the role of photography ranging from Plato’s cave paintings to the importance of photography in the present world. While reading this book, you will realize that there are a lot of perspectives from which one can perceive the photographs, as she beautifully explained the works of many photographers, one of which is Diane Arbus the best female photographer of her generation who captured many iconic photos and committed suicide at the age of 48.

Susan also talks about how one can go about understanding the differences between the images and reality where the lines are almost blurring as the photographs seem to be more real then the reality itself. The book has a lot in it, just for you to read it!

While reading this book, you will want to underline just about every sentence because it is life changing. You will want to hug your camera and then throw it out of the window. You will never approach the world the same again.

The Man, the Image and the World: A Retrospective – by Henri Cartier Bresson

This is a book written on Henri Cartier, the pioneer of street photography who was famously known as the master of candid photography. It talks about the life of a famous photographer even before he got into photography that how he started with learning painting and then went on to become a prisoner of war by the Germans, the impact of his life on his photographs, which he started clicking after founding Magnum photographic agency with his friends.

Cartier-Bresson’s youth is also featured in this book along with his family and the founding of Magnum photographic agency. So, if you want to learn from the types of the photos he used to click in the last century, this is the book with 600+ photographs some iconic some left to be iconic.

A Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes (1979)

It’s one of the most important early academic books of criticism and theorization on photography. The interesting thing about this book is that it isn’t written by a photographer, it’s by a master of linguistic semiotics and literary criticism in which the works of artists such as Avedon, Clifford, Mapplethorpe, and Nadar are discussed. Roland Barthes presents photography as being outside the codes of language or culture, acting on the body as much as on the mind, and rendering death and loss more acutely than any other medium.

For him, every photograph is rather than being a representation is an expression of loss and somewhere connected to death. Also, in this book he splits the photograph into punctum — a ‘point of interest’ within the photo that is both responsible for its aesthetic quality and unique for each individual observer, basically a type of a subject and the second part is studium which deals with the signs of the photographer’s intention and technical skill, the stereotypical use, the organisational setting, the compositional style of the photos, everything to do with the photograph’s themes and culturally determined meanings. It’s a must-read for someone who wants to take a different perspective on how to understand a photograph by looking at its punctum and studium.

Ways of Seeing – John Berger (1972)

John Berger is a Booker prize winner who wrote this book which is based on his own BBC television series. The basic concept this book follows is that the person’s vision comes first and then his/her words. It’s the vision that helps people to understand their surroundings and not the words. It contains seven essays which often talk about representation of women in oil paintings and advertisements this can be taken as a one of the feminist reading in the pop culture. It’s currently being used a textbook in many universities across the globe for understanding the visual culture.

If you enjoy reading On Photography by Susan Sontag, then is a must for you!

Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs

Even before I talk about this book, have you seen the most iconic portrait of last decade? A girl with a red cloth draped over her head? The Afghan girl?

Yes, exactly that! The author of this book is the one who clicked that, and in his book, he has published the most beautiful and evocative pictures which he has clicked throughout his career. This book is filled with visuals and visuals containing a minimum amount of text.

Portraits of farmers, pilgrims, and a bundle of joys are presented along with views of ancient religious places, small crowded streets, high mountain landscapes and candid scenes of daily life where people are seen praying, working and other quotidian work. The pictures are from all over the world including Asian countries like India & Pakistan. This is for those who would like to see the images and learn from them. Most of the people who buy it, always are adoring the pictures that are so effective that one wants to look at them again and again.

Loved any of our above recommendations? Let us know in comments below.

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