7 Books No Photographer Should Be Without

By Mike Panic / March 15, 2010

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Photography is a visual form of art that is presented in many different ways and books are no exception.  Books also offer a way for learning the craft, reference and furthering your knowledge.  Here's a look at 7 books no photographer should be without.

1. The manual that came with your camera. You'd be amazed at how much information is in your manual about your camera with regards to features and functions, if you sit down and actually read it you can feel more confident in using your camera. They are usually small enough that you can keep them in your bag for quick reference on the go.
2. The Magic Lantern Guide Books for specific camera models take the somewhat dry context of the factory manual and present it in a way that's more digestible and enjoyable to read.  Like the factory manual, you'll learn about every aspect of your camera, including the somewhat tricky menu systems that are becoming more common on DSLR cameras.
3. Helmet Newton's Autobiography.  Helmet's fashion and editorial work changed the face of fashion and how it was viewed through the second half of the 20th century.  His book told in his own words covers the travesties of his childhood through living in Australia and Southeast Asia, and eventually ending up in the United States.  His philsophy and outlook on life and photography is real and inspiring and the work he created in his lifetime still appeals to the masses.
3. Diane Arbus Revelations.  This book spans Diane's entire life with more than 200 photos in it and shows her bold style.  It's an inspiration to any photographer.
4. I Am a Camera: The Saatchi Gallery. More then 400 pages of work from unknown artists and well know photo stars, I Am a Camera covers three main themes: True Life Adventures, Fiction and Artifice, and Places Portraits Still Lives Tableaux.  This collection highlights the importance of photography in contemporary art forms and is a wonderful addition to any coffee table.
5. Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision.  Finding the essence of what you see through the lens can often be an internal struggle many shooters face.  Within the Frame is a book about finding and expressing your photographic vision, specifically where people, places, and cultures are concerned.  While part instructional, this book is more inspirational and will help drive you towards reaching your photographic goals.
6. Sleeping by the Mississippi.  This collection of photographs along America's 3rd coast has taken the photographic world by storm, and it's not even a decade old yet!  Shooting large format and following iconic and not so iconic landmarks and scenery of the south, it also captures people who live and work in this area, musical influences, racial prejudices and more.  46 photos comprise the entire book but tell such a moving story that reading it over and over again is a must.
7. Chuck Close: A Couple of Ways of Doing Something. Chuck's creative style and stringent attention to detail while mastering the large format photography he's become famous for is shown within these pages.  Daguerreotypes done masterfully in rich tritone show the skill at which Chuck works.  His portraits are like none other.
Bonus. Lost America: The Abandoned Roadside West.  Classic, forgotten about Americana shot mostly all on slide film at night with long exposures, this beautifully put together collection of images is one that you'll have to show friends and family when they visit.
Books are wonderful things, instructional, informative and beautiful to look at.  Whether you need to learn how to do something or get inspiration, these seven should help you out.

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About the author

    Mike Panic

    is a professional photographer. See his site at Mike Panic Photography.

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