I love to read, and between my Amazon Kindle and regular old-fashioned books, I read a lot. The Kindle allows me to read more often, since I can take it with me pretty much where ever I go, and it’s kept me happily entertained on many long hours waiting for the right conditions while photographing. The ability to bring dozens of books with me in a small device that fits easily in my backpack is truly amazing. Camping has never been better, assuming you can charge the thing, which for me is never a problem – I make sure I can charge my camera batteries where ever I go!
At the same time, nothing beats the feel of a good novel or photography book while relaxing at home during a cold and wet winter day. And while I do read the Kindle at home, it just doesn’t compare (nor should it) to enjoying images in a large coffee table book by my favorite photographers.
This list isn’t limited to photography books because I wanted to share some of the stuff I’ve been reading as of late, regardless of subject. I’ve always believed that learning as much as possible about anything that interests you will pay off in the long run, regardless of whether you’re an artist, father, business owner, or all of the above. So here are a few of my recommendations.
A huge topic for me, I can’t get enough about everything there is to know and learn in this new world of the internet and social media, but here are some good thinkers worth reading.
– Trust Agents: Chris Brogan, Julien Smith
Establishing trust online is key to any marketing success, and these guys have invaluable information and advice to share. I’m on my second read.
– Duct Tape Marketing: John Jantsch
Lacking in your marketing efforts? Start here – the best marketing 101 book I’ve read in a while, and even though I’ve been at it for a while, there is always something new to learn!
– The Think Big Manifseto: Michael Port – A truly inspiring book on motivation and the power of believing in oneself to achieve any dream. I’ve read this book twice, and it leaves me feeling empowered and confident about my future as a big thinker.
– Getting Things Done: David Allen
The classic book on stress-free productivity which everyone should read, it started the GTD revolution, so important in a world filled with distractions and demands on our limited energy and time.
– Tribes: Seth Godin
His previous book showed me what a “Purple Cow” was, and this book delivers even more wisdom about what it takes to succeed as an entrepeneur. While not written specifically for an artist, if you a visual artist trying to market and sell your work, this book is mind and eye opening.
– Peace Is Every Step: Thich Nhat Hanh
A short book with profound ideas and teachings, yet so simple in its message. You don’t have to change your beliefs or meditate (though I meditate regularly) to appreciate how easy it is to find beauty and peace in every step of life. “I have lost my smile, but don’t worry, The dandelion has it”.
Stories and Inspiration
Who doesn’t enjoy a good novel or adventure story to get the imagination going and escape to another time and place?
– The Road: Cormac McCarthy
A dark and sad tale about an a post apocalyptic scenario involving a father and son relationship. A book about despair, love, and faith in the human spirit.
– John Adams: David McCullough
I enjoy reading about colonial times and the hardships people endured to achieve greatness, both as a source of inspiration and as a way to gain perspective in our own times. I find it difficult to complain about anything these days compared to what it was like before…great book, though quote long!
This is where it all happens for me, and where I can read forever if it wasn’t for the fact I have to feed my growing 6 yr old!
– Waiting for the Light: David Noton
A master of beauty, light and color, David’s images and accompanying text was a pleasure to enjoy. His candid and down to earth approach was a welcome change to so many other “serious” books, and his enthusiasm and passion for capturing simple beauty comes across in every image. I can’t get enough of his photography from around the world.
– American Wilderness: Barbara Babcock Millhouse
I’m a life-long student of the Hudson River School of Painters, and this book adds to my ever expanding collection about this subject. While not as analytical as others, it gives a good overview of the artists and their contributions to this movement and genre. If you don’t know much about Thomas Cole or Frederic Church (and his home Olana), start here.
– Landscape Beyond: David Ward
A master photographer and thinker, David makes me think more than any other photographer since Galen Rowell. His images are amazing, but it’s his writing I enjoy more than anything else. ” The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
– The Creative Habit: Twyla Tharp
The ethic of hard work is epitomized in this great book by this dancer/choreographer. It will literally kick your @#$ and make you think twice about what it takes to be creative – my favorite book of the year by far!
– Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity, and Personal Style: Alain Briot
Another great book that focuses on the aesthetics of photography from a former painter and one of the most successful fine art photographers alive today. Timeless information that goes beyond the latest technology and gimmicks. This is a permanent part of my photography bookshelf.
– Working the Light: a Photographic Masterclass: Eddie Ephramus
A workshop in a book, this is as close as you’ll get from home to working with four amazing photographers and instructors. It’s filled with student photos and critiques from the instructors, and I learned quite a bit from this unique presentation
– Galen Rowell – A Retrospective
Finally, I left the best for last. I received this book from my wife last Christmas, and it always remain close at hand whenever I need inspiration. Working with a film 35mm camera at a time when all serious landscape photographers used 8×10 view cameras, Galen Rowell blended adventure, remote and exotic locations, and an amazing instinct for light and color. He was the first photographer I ever heard that spoke about the relationship between photography and music, and similarly inspired me to push my body and mind in attempt to express my passion and feelings for the natural world.
Above all, please remember this is only my opinion, and what appeals to me may not appeal to you. But curiosity has done wonders for me, so explore with an open mind!