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8 Books Every Photo-enthusiast Must Read

arka dutta
31
Jan 2016

8 Books Every Photo-enthusiast Must Read

Many of us love taking photographs. We all start reading the manuals, browse through the numerous pages of technical know-hows, styles and of course the photographs. But apart from that you need to feel an insight that will allow you to connect to this world through the photography medium, through your camera. Now, I am not a professional photographer – I have done some assignments but only because I loved doing it. Living in the moment and capturing it, is my way of sharing with the world how I see things; whether it be humorous, serious, playful, profound or just plain creative. Photography helps me to express my feelings, my insight and how I view this world that we all live in without having to say a word. Encountering the natural world both with my eyes and through the lens is an excellent reminder that I share this earth, this environment with all other living beings and also share responsibility for it well-being.

It’s not always just pressing the shutter, it’s about the photos that you take – the reason and philosophy behind it.

So based on these I chose the following books to be must reads on photography:

 

  • On Photography by Susan Sontag

This is a great read. This piece is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. Read it for the quality of thinking. “It’s a fine line between fine art and fine reportage/documentary though there may be a certain something that unsettles a corner of our satiation/appreciation in the glorification of an image of current tragedy to fine art.” – Susan Sontag.

It takes more of a philosophical look at how photography has changed the world and the way we learn. Susan Sontag discusses the excess of visual material in modern life, how photography has affected the way we learn (and understand history), and also how photography represents (and distorts) reality.

On Photography by Susan Sontag

On Photography by Susan Sontag

 

  • The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski

The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski

The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski

This is a classic book and an indispensable introduction to the visual language of photography by Szarkowski, the legendary curator who worked at the Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991. Szarkowski’s compact text eloquently complements skillfully selected and sequenced groupings of 172 photographs drawn from the entire history and range of the medium. Celebrated works by such masters as Cartier-Bresson, Evans, Steichen, Strand, and Weston are juxtaposed with vernacular documents and even amateur snapshots to analyze the fundamental challenges and opportunities that all photographers have faced.

 

  • ‘Genesis’, ‘Migration’ and ‘Workers’ by Sebastiao Salgado

In the epic book ‘Genesis’ Salgado brings together Human (and) nature. Epic journeys to the ends of the earth: Salgado’s opus on our planet in its natural state. Salgado possessed a deep love and respect for nature; he was also particularly sensitive to the ways in which human beings are affected by their often devastating socio-economic conditions. Of the myriad works Salgado has produced in his esteemed career, three long-term projects stand out: “Workers” (1993), documenting the vanishing way of life of manual laborers across the world, “Migrations” (2000), a tribute to mass migration driven by hunger, natural disasters, environmental degradation and demographic pressure, and this new opus, “Genesis”, the result of an epic eight-year expedition to rediscover the mountains, deserts and oceans, the animals and peoples that have so far escaped the imprint of modern society – the land and life of a still-pristine planet.

To me the book has been such an inspiration to find that cause of love for photography.

 

  • The Suffering of Light by Alex Webb

The Suffering of Light is the first comprehensive monograph charting the career of acclaimed American photographer Alex Webb, gathering some of his most iconic images. His work, with its richly layered and complex composition, touches on multiple genres, including street photography, photojournalism, and fine art, but as Webb claims, “to me it all is photography. This book really teaches you some real lessons through photographs.webb

  • Slightly Out of Focus by Robert Capa

FriedmannEndreErno is better known as Robert Capa, photographer and photojournalist extraordinaire who is famous for his war photographs. Slightly Out of Focus chronicles Capa’s journey through World War II. It shows his photographic masterpieces. He gives us detailed images of the men and women of war; those who were caught in the crossfire and those who were right in the heart of it.Filled with Capa’s endearing humor, this war book is a must for serious documentary photographers.The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum.

Slightly Out of Focus by Robert Capa

Slightly Out of Focus by Robert Capa

  • The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum

This book is perhaps can be described as the most readable, understandable, and complete textbook on photography. With well over 100 beautiful photographic illustrations in both black-and-white and color, as well as numerous charts, graphs, and tables, this book presents the world of photography to beginner, intermediate, and advanced photographers seeking to make a personal statement through the medium of photography. Without talking down to anyone, or talking over anyone’s head, Barnbaum presents “how to” techniques for both traditional and digital approaches. Yet he goes well beyond the technical, as he delves deeply into the philosophical, expressive, and creative aspects of photography that are so often avoided in other books.

The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum

The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum

  • The Camera by Ansel Adams

Another classic. Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was one of the great artists and environmentalists of the twentieth century. In a remarkable career spanning more than sixty years, he made over 40,000 photographs. This legendary technical series has been the primary reference from which most other technical photography books and magazines derive for decades.

Adams was a master teacher as well as a master photographer, and in these books, an ever lasting contribution to the artistic, practical, and technical aspects of black-and-white photography, he reveals how he did what he did. Every paragraph is packed with more useful information than entire chapters of lesser books, these are a must read for every photographer.

The Camera by Ansel Adams

The Camera by Ansel Adams

  • Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

One of my favorites. This one is a short book written by the French literary theorist and philosopher Roland Barthes. It is simultaneously an inquiry into the nature and essence of photography and a eulogy to Barthes’ late mother. The book investigates the effects of photography on the spectator.He argues many subtle idea about that technical skill being entirely irrelevant to the photographic process while going deep into the meaning vs the effect of the photograph.

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes

I also recommend Josef Koudelka’s “Gypsies” and “Exiles”, Street Photography by Vivian Maier, The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier Bresson, Books of Raghu Rai ( India, My Land and its People, Mother, Bhopal Gas Tragedy)

Recently I also had a look into the photobook ‘Moisés’ by Mariela Sancari and found it very very interesting

Arka Dutta

Photo-Blogger at Arka Dutta
I am an amateur photographer and a Mechanical Engineer by profession, living in Kolkata. Photography is my continuous lesson of living in the moment while capturing it, is my way of sharing with the world how I see things; whether it be humorous, serious, playful, profound or just plain creative. Photography helps me to express my personality and how I view this world we all live in without having, to say a word.
A few accolades that I've received are two Black and White Spider Awards: In People and Photojournalism category 2015, photo Series: A Day of Mass, Rush, and Prayer published in Dodho Magazine and pPhotograph exhibited in Ali Center, the USA in a photography exhibition on the theme: Gender Equality, 2015 among others.

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    I am an amateur photographer and a Mechanical Engineer by profession, living in Kolkata. Photography is my continuous lesson of living in the moment while capturing it, is my way of sharing with the world how I see things; whether it be humorous, serious, playful, profound or just plain creative. Photography helps me to express my personality and how I view this world we all live in without having, to say a word. A few accolades that I've received are two Black and White Spider Awards: In People and Photojournalism category 2015, photo Series: A Day of Mass, Rush, and Prayer published in Dodho Magazine and pPhotograph exhibited in Ali Center, the USA in a photography exhibition on the theme: Gender Equality, 2015 among others.
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