While running workshops, I'm often asked about which books do I recommend. I look for books that will inspire me to pick up my camera. Yes, I have a very technical side, and I love to understand how something was done, and sometimes I'll put that into practical use and go out and 'repeat' the shot, probably something in the male gene that satisfies the urge to collect! But more often than not, I looking for something that will enable me to see things differently.
There are plenty of books out there which are purely technical, but lots of them are written like an alternative camera handbook, and can be quite dreary to wade through, that's if you can actually make it to the end! Unless you intersperse technical reading with practical experience then a lot of the information never sinks in. That's why photographic workshops are a good, you learn something new and get to put it into practice straight away.
The way I look at books (and magazines) is that as long as either I've learnt something or it has inspired me to do something then its money well spent. Here is a selection of the books that are currently amongst my favourites, these encompass some technical knowledge but most of all looking at the photographs makes me want to put the book down and plan my next photographic outing. Your Christmas List has just got longer!!
The Essential Guide To Landscape Photography - (GMC Publications £10)- Available now in WH Smith (and other newsagents), this is a compendium publication from Outdoor Photography Magazine and is simply brilliant, a mixture of well written technical pieces and thought provoking articles, if there is one landscape photography publication on your 'buy' list then this should be it. I wouldn't even put it on your Christmas list; a) because its a magazine publication I have no idea how long it will be in the shops for, and b) its a tenner, just get it bought!
Transient Light - Ian Cameron (PIP £17) - Ian Cameron is a less widely known Scottish landscape photographer, this book explains the importance of light within the landscape photograph, how to anticipate it, and how to capture it successfully. Throughout the book are inspirational images and useful Pro-Tips. A great book for picking up field techniques.
Focus in Photography - John Neel (Ilex £20) - A book I wasn't expecting to buy, quite a technical book, it explains how lenses work, and how the positional focus within the frame effects the image. In very easy to understand terms it demonstrates lens effects and aberrations. It encourages you to experiment with new techniques.
Mastering Street Photography - Brian Lloyd Duckett (Ammonite Press £20) - Don't think that this is a book just about street photography, its a book about photography, written in a very easy to understand style, Brian covers every aspect of shooting within our towns and cities, from equipment choice, safety and the law, through to how to understand the light, timing and conquering your fear of using the camera in busy places.
Photography Masterclass - Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers - Paul Lowe (Thames and Hudson £20) - Taking a 100photographers, this book, showcases an image, explaining the artists work, provides a short bio about the artist and then some creative tips on the techniques used, from light and composition through to camera. Not only does this inspire you to try new a style of shooting, but also opens your eyes to the works of slightly less well known photographers. Although you should form your own style of shooting, and look for originality, there is always something to be learnt from the masters.
Within The Frame - David duChemin (Pearson £25) - A thought provoking book, this is more about what you do between shots, rather than the process of taking the shot. Although the technical side is covered, and there are some fantastic images, David takes us on a journey through his mind process, from planning, to understanding the environment, before presses the shutter. Too many of us, seesomething and get trigger happy, slowing down and understanding your location, can help inspire you to take that one good shot, rather than spray shooting and getting nothing worthwhile. I put this into practice recently, Liverpool Anglican Cathedral has until now been my photographic nemesis, but last week I decided to conquer this, I went to Liverpool, walked to the Cathedral (camera still in bag), and spent a hour or so wandering the cathedral, sitting and looking at the building, getting a feel for the place, understanding the fall of light, the vastness of the building. Then I set up my camera and took a handful of shots, many of which I'm really pleased with.