Top 5 Inspirational Photography Books You Should Add to Your Creative Library

Inspirational photography books help us shape our vision by studying the works of those masters who have come before us. By looking into the past, while keeping up with the present, we are able to bring back something that people may have been forgotten. Whatever that something is, we can mix it with the current style of photography and call it new, for the time being. After all, everything has been tried or photographed. We are only remixing and testing variations of what was. Nothing is original. Presenting what’s old in new ways is what creative individuals have always done. That’s why visiting galleries, collecting photographs and photography books is important. It helps us understand the vision of those whom we admire, while in the process of shaping our own. Diversity is a sign of democracy, not just in societies, but in the execution of great art work.

Top 5 Inspirational Photography Books

The following list contains my top 5 photography books that are never far from my desk. Personally, I don’t have a favorite photographer. Hopefully, as photographers, we feed our creative side by drawing inspiration from many different sources. Whoever claims they have a favorite photographer, probably has not been exposed to many. Here comes the list!

5. Ragnar Axelsson: Faces of the North

If you haven’t heard of Ragnar Axelsson, you’re not alone. Axelsson is an Icelandic photographer whose work has been published in magazines such as National Geographic. He’s held exhibits in countries including, Germany, France, United States… In 2006 I stumbled upon his website and became captivated by his work. Every shot looks as if someone pushed the pause button in the middle of a great movie. Since then, Axelsson was kind enough to send me a signed copy of this book and later showed me new pictures for his upcoming book, The Last Days of the Arctic.

4. Wayne F. Miller Photographs: 1942-1958

Wayne Miller, a contributor to Magnum Photos, taught in Chicago before taking a position at Life. He is best known for The Way of Life of the Northern Negro, a series documenting the wartime of African Americans. Miller was a master of freezing intimate moments in time, without interfering with his subjects.

3. Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand

This well designed book displays the works of three, probably the most important, photographers of the 20th century. They are Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946), Edward Steichen (1879–1973), Paul Strand (1890–1976). When most of the art world rejected photography, these three advocates fought for it.

2. Brassai. Paris

Every street photographer should be familiar with Brassai, born Gyula Halasz in Hungary. He said, “My ambition has always been to show the everyday city as if we were discovering it for the first time.” In the spring of 1930 he began using his camera to capture the night scenes… Brassai’s work is shocking, playful, graphic, contrasty and simply beautiful.

1. Henri Cartier-Bresson Photographer

This book is big and expensive, but I had to have it. Who doesn’t love this photographer?! Cartier roamed the streets with his Leica, in search for that perfect, geometric, picture. He never cropped his images and he hated printing. Form comes first, says Bresson. Then comes light, which is like a perfume for him. In his documentary, Just Plain Love, Henri Cartier-Bresson discusses his work mentions the divine proportion, or the golden ratio: 1.618. This book is a must have!

What’s on Your Bookshelf?

The inspirational photography books list can be much longer. There is the great Robert Frank and his wonderful book, The Americans. Sally Mann’s, Deep South, is haunting… What books do you have on your shelf. How often do you flip through the pages of a great photography book? Share your list in the comments area below.