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7 Books that every photographer or aspiring photographer must read!

Updated: May 16


Whether you're a full-time or aspiring photographer, here are seven books that will help you in your career, or get you on the right path to starting a career in photography.


I've been a professional photographer since 2015. Some of these books I read before I went pro and some after.


They've all helped me immensely, so I wanted to share them with you so they can help you too!


I've included links to the books on Amazon and also linked the authors Instagram in the text where I've mentioned their names.


Let me know if you have read any of these before and if you have any others you would add to this list.

I'm always on the lookout for other great books on photography, business, or self improvement.



1. Creative Calling - by Chase Jarvis


This book is all about how everyone has creativity inside of them, you just need to start to practice it.


It's by author Chase Jarvis, a commercial and advertising photographer, and the co-founder and CEO of CreativeLive, an online training platform for creatives.


In this book Chase tells of his successes and failures of his career. He advises about daily habits, and practices we can all make to become more creative, get out there and make the work we love.


One of the phrases I love in this book is, "not to fake it until you make it, but make it until you make it"!

Meaning, keep making the work until you make success out of it.

Too many people fake it. Don't be that person. Keep making great work, and sharing that work until you actually make it!


It's well worth a read. I think it's one of the foundational books that every photographer or creative person needs to read in this day and age!





2. Steal Like an Artist - by Austin Kleon


Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon is a book that basically says that nothing is really original, but everything has been done before and has been adapted by each artist.


Photographers, artists, creatives, see something that someone else has done already, then put their own spin on it, change bits of the idea to make it their own.


It's so true when you look at all the art in the world or photographs. There are no real original ideas, but ideas and concepts that have been "stolen" and then adjusted and reframed.


It's reassuring to know that even the great artists of the past did this. That we don't have to worry and panic because we don't have any "original ideas".

What we can do is find an artist, photographer, or creative person we love, see their work, and then adapt it and put our own spin on it to make that work our own.


I know the way I shoot my commercial, advertising, or lifestyle photography isn't completely original in essence. Many people have had the same ideas I've had long ago, but I can put my own take on the project and make the photographs my own.


This is a great little book to read over a coffee.

I love the feel and format of these series of books by Austin Kleon. Well worth adding to your bookshelf!





3. Show your Work - by Austin Kleon


The second book in the series by Austin Kleon.


This book encouraged me at the start of my photography journey and made me realise how important it is to put your work out there into the world.


It's the main reason I got noticed and landed my first photography job photographing for British Airways.

It's also the reason I've been hired by many big brands and companies since for commercial, advertising, and lifestyle photography work.


People need to see your work for you to land jobs, gain followers and get feedback on your work.


Even if you don't think you work is 100% complete or perfect, you need to put it out into the universe for people to see!





4. Keep Going - by Austin Kleon


The third book in the series by Austin Kleon. 10 ways to stay creative in good times and bad.


This is another little book you can enjoy over a coffee, and is full of ways, habits, and practices to keep going on the path of creativity.


A really helpful little book.





5. What they didn't teach you in Photo School - by Demetrius Fordham


Great book for those who have the practical knowledge of how to use their camera and take photographs, but want to be able to make a career out of it!


In this book Demetrius Fordham is a great help for those wanting to turn their photography hobby into a full-time career.


It covers everything from who to contact for certain types of jobs, marketing, finding jobs as an assistant or intern to gain experience.

How to create an amazing portfolio, and who to send it to.

How to work with clients and how to manage their expectations. etc etc!


This book won't teach you how to use a camera, but it covers pretty much all the business side of photography that you absolutely need if you want to become a successful professional photographer!





6. Start Now, Get Perfect Later - by Rob Moore


You can tell what this book is about from the cover!


It's about not procrastinating, not worrying that your work isn't 100% ready or perfect, and just getting on it and doing it!


It's better that you do the work, put it out there now, and perfect it over time, than sit on an idea or piece of work because you think it's not 100% ready or perfect to share yet.


Rob Moore in this book will give you motivation, and make you look inside yourself to help you get over that mental hurdle we all have to face and jump over from time to time.


It's quite a short book (which I like), and it will definitely help and motivate a lot of people with their mindset!





7. Survival guide to Life - by Bear Grylls


This one is a bit out of the box, but its a great motivational book to get you to follow your dreams with real clarity and drive!


It's the book that got me to get out of my comfort zone, and within 4 months of reading it I became a full-time photographer.

Albeit through a lot of hard work and taking action on things I'd learned, but it was this book that got me off my back side to take action!


Bear Grylls in this book gives lessons and advise, not only for your career, but also great advise and practices for life in general.


I always make a point to read this book at the start of every year to motivate me, and to get my mind in the right place again, so I can start the year off strong and on the right foot!





Thank you so much for reading! - I would love to hear of any recommendations you might have?


Leave a comment if you agree with my book choices, and if you have any others you would add to this list!



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Stuart Bailey | Commercial, Advertising, and Lifestyle Photographer

London, UK

Website: www.StuartBaileyPhoto.com

Email: contact@stuartbaileyphoto.com

Phone: (+44) 07762 900 132


Online Print Shop: https://www.stuartbaileyphoto.com/shop

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