Best Photography Books of 2013

2013 offered many great books that contribute to the art of photography. These are the picks, just in time to help you with gift ideas for this holiday season. With such a long list of publications from 2013, we went with those we felt were the most: inspirational, informative, helpful, and/or unique.

If there is another book you’d like to recommend, please include it in the comments section below.

You can click the links to purchase and we also encourage you to support your local bookstores, who need your patronage.


1. Inspiration in Photography: Training Your Mind to Make Great Art a Habit

Author: Brooke Shaden
Published: September 2013 by Focal Press in North America and Ilex Press elsewhere
Details: softcover, 192 pages, 10 × 9.2 inches
List price: $34.95/£17.99

Brooke Shaden’s latest book ilex_shaden_inspiration is an insightful look into her world of conceptual fine art photography. Offering helpful tips on both how to narrow in on creativity and on the practical tools needed to achieve such imaginative images, this book is certainly a rare find.

As one of the most recognized names in modern photography, Brooke Shaden sheds light not just on her own methods, but on how to truly find and create a style all your own. Well known for her self-portraits and artistic vision, she takes the reader through her process of both coming up with an idea and executing it well. Shaden will encourage you to think outside the box and dig a little deeper to find your own artistic calling. While the work displayed seems motivation enough, this book will also offer a multitude of exercises to help you find your own vision in any setting.

Inspiration in Photography is an ideal balance of incitement and instruction. It is ideal for anyone looking to shake things up in their work or narrow in on their own unique style of photography.

Who is this book for? This is an ideal book for your true photographer. This is a great book for anyone currently in the photography field who is looking to reignite their creativity and learn interesting new tricks of the trade. It doesn’t matter what type of photography you are interested in, Inspiration in Photography is written to help artists find the individuality in their own styles.


2. Capture the Magic: Train Your Eye, Improve Your Photographic Composition

Author: Jack Dykinga
Published: November 2013 by Rocky Nook
Details: softcover, 188 pages, 9.9 × 10 inches
ISBN: 9781937538354
List price: $39.95/£30.99

Capture the Magic by Jack Dykinga discusses how to transform moving ideas, feelings, and experiences into exceptional photography. While it is often we are moved by a particular emotion it can be difficult to transform that into moving and relatable imagery. Jack Dykinga discusses finding both the commonality in human biases and the most complimentary composition for any photograph. By asking basic questions about what we’re photographing, he helps the reader figure out what is important in the image and therefore what to focus on.

In addition to composition and focal points, Capture the Magic teaches the reader to use what’s available and how to be flexible to various circumstances. Jack Dykinga believes photography is as essential form of communication capable of crossing linguistic borders. He teaches an array of essential photography techniques used to form this connection and creatively express yourself through an image.

Who is this book for? Capture the Magic is the best beginner photographer’s guide around. This book touches on all of the most basic and crucial elements of photography needed to become a true photographer. A step beyond semantics of using the camera, Capture the Magic is about teaching the reader to use the surroundings, emotions, and connections made available.


3. Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs

Author: Steve McCurry
Published: September 2013 by Phaidon Press
Details: hardcover, 264 pages, 13 5/8 × 9 5/8 inches
List price: $59.95/ £39.95

Steve McCurry is one of the most prominent photo-journalists currently living. In his latest book, phaidon_mccurry_untold, the reader is brought along on some of his most incredible quests around the world. Known for his captivating images of people and exotic places, Steve McCurry shares the exhilarating stories behind some of his most iconic photos.

Featuring 14 of McCurry’s photo stories, this book gives readers an insight to how he not only finds the stories, but his approach to interpreting them uniquely. He shares not only his striking photography, but snapshots of his life as a photojournalist including photos, maps, journal entries, and more. With newly articulated essays, Untold gives you a sense of not just the event but the intimate nature of photographing the event as well. The reader is offered an authentic glance behind the scenes at the life of a true voyager. Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs is an essential read for any aspiring photojournalist or anyone with that wander-lust spirit!

Who is this book for? A must read for all aspiring photojournalists! With incredible imagery to inspire a wander-lust spirit, this book offers true life tales of the adventures embarked upon to create such incredible work. Whatever the style of your own photojournalism, Untold is an excellent rendition of the patience, luck, and fortitude it takes to be an awe-inspiring photographer.


4. The Minimalist Photographer

Author: Steve Johnson
Published: April 2013 by Rocky Nook
Details: paperback, 144 pages, 8 × 10 inches
List price: $32.95/ £25.50

The Minimalist Photographer by Steve Johnson emphasizes the need to remove the non-essential from the essential in both our images and our approach to photography.

As a photographer, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the abundant information and gear made available. Steve Johnson addresses this issue by promoting a minimalist approach to the field in all aspects pertaining to buying gear, simplifying workflow, and uncluttering the composition of images.

In his latest book, Steve Johnson discusses the importance of having a personal style and philosophy in photography to help guide your pictorial endeavors. The Minimalist Photographer focuses on the simplifying all things photography from equipment and technique to light and the history of photography.

Who is this book for? This is yet another excellent read for aspiring photographers. Breaking down the many overwhelming aspects and complications of photography, this book manages to focus on what is most relevant in true photographic creation. The Minimalist Photographer touches on all of the key components of authentic photography in an easy to digest and extremely helpful manner.


5. Lightroom 5 Unmasked: A Complete Guidebook to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Author: Piet Van den Eynde
Published: 2013 by Craft and Vision
Details: ebook, 356 pages
List price: $20

Lightroom 5 Unmasked is full of information for someone new to Lightroom, beginning with what Lightroom is (and isn’t), all the way through the different modules: library, print, develop, and more. An especially notable feature would be the case studies (69 of them!) throughout the guide that are a key reason why this book is featured on the top 10 list. The case studies speak to different styles, offer tips that are legitimately useful (such as turning images into business cards), and share critical technical information as well (such as_Raw, JPG, or Raw + JPG_ and Help My Hard Drive is Full!). The author has left no detail about Lightroom undiscussed.

The other key reason this guide is featured? The author’s photography is really inspiring, which surprisingly is something that is often lacking in photography software how-to’s.

Who is this book for? If you are thinking of adding Lightroom to your life, this should be the first purchase after you download your new software.


6. The Way of the Digital Photographer: Walking the Photoshop post-production path to more creative photography

Author: Harold Davis
Published: July 2013 by Peachpit
Details: paperback, 192 pages, 8 × 10 inches
List price: $34.99/ £21.60
ISBN: 9780321943071

peachpit_davis_digital_photographer is all about the “camera-computer partnership” of the digital medium. Using Photoshop as the editing software of choice, the very talented author takes you far beyond Photoshop 101. Instead, he focuses on ways to use Photoshop to enhance creativity, using incredible photography examples. For example, he uses 35 four minute exposure photos of a night sky with a pre-sunset shot of the same location, and uses this beautiful masterpiece to show you the screen blending mode.

Who is this book for? Though this covers the fundamentals in the beginning of the book, this is really for intermediate Photoshop users that have some basic knowledge to start with. This is also for people who want to go beyond the purist mentality; those willing to expand their photos into a more artistic realm.


7. Zen Photographer: Turning Your Passion Into Focus

Author: Dan Bailey
Published: September 2013
Details: ebook, 81 pages
List price: $12.95

Sometimes, you just get stuck in a rut. If you’ve been doing the same thing for eons, you need to change it up and keep with the times as well. This book, Zen Photographer gives you a swift kick in the pants. The author’s enthusiasm and good energy is extremely motivational (kind of like you are in auditorium seating, taking notes, and listening to him break you down and build you back up again) and it is a dose of reality at the same time. He encourages you to take risks and avoid getting lazy at all costs. If you are running your own photography business OR a serious amateur who isn’t sure of the next step, this book will literally help you feel empowered.

Who is this book for? Truly for all levels that are serious about photography, this book is especially ideal for long-time photographers that feel stuck, be it running a declining business or feeling creatively blocked.


8. Blogging for Photographers: Showcase Your Creativity and Build Your Audience

Author: Jolie O’Dell
Published: May 2013 by Ilex Press worldwide and Focal Press in North America
Details: paperback, 160 pages, 7 × 8 inches
List price: $24.95/ £12.99
ISBN: 9781781579978

A business-savvy photographer will tell you how important blogging is. Even pro photographers blog as a key component of their web sites to let people know what projects they are working on, what is important to them, what their style is, and ultimately increasing traffic to their site/business. focal_odell_blogging is a great place to start if you don’t have blogging experience.

Written by a former Mashable and current Venture Beat journalist, Jolie O’Dell—with brevity—teaches you how to start a blog, what to blog about, how to make your blog a social media hub, how to network and create partnerships, create a brand, and create content that is actually engaging (like a photo a day contest, for example). It isn’t all that easy to “put yourself out there,” but this guide really does make it feel far less daunting.

Who is this book for? This is a solid reference to have at any level, whether you are a hobbyist or making a living from your photography. Even the most professional photographer may not have any idea where to start when it comes to blogging.


9. Bellies & Babies: The Business of Maternity and Newborn Photography

Author: Sandy Puc’
Published: August 2013 by Wiley
Details: paperback, 224 pages, 9 × 7 inches
List price: $24.95/ £23.99
ISBN: 9781118407509

The standards get higher and higher with maternity and baby photography and you have to stand out and be creative to get new business. Sandy Puc’ explains how to get started and stay successful in wiley_puc_bellies_babies.

After you’ve decided which packages/plans you’ll offer, you move to your marketing plan, studio creation, tips to get your lighting prep set, and more — even post-production. Once again, as we’ve mentioned in previous titles, the photography is inspiring. The author has a very clear sense of style that is in high demand, and merely the pictures in the book will inspire new poses and props for future shoots. You’ll also be on cute overload after looking at so many fetching babies!

Who is this book for? The semi-pro photographer who is starting to ramp up their family portrait business or the photographer who is just starting out. This would also be helpful for a pro who has a lagging business or dated look to their photography and needs a bit of inspiration.


10. Gregory Crewdson

Author: Gregory Crewdson
Published: October 2013 by Rizzoli New York
Details: hard back, 400 pages, 13.9 × 12.9 inches
List price: $150/ £95.00
ISBN: 9780847840915

rizzoli_gregory-crewdson is an artful new book featuring work by one of today’s most well-known creative photographers. His work is often described as “beautifully epic," “strange and inexplicable,” and “uncanny and dramatic.” In his latest book, Gregory Crewdson displays his very individualistic style photographing small town America and delicately walking the fine line between a science-fiction thriller feel and that of a psychological drama. 

Known for his elaborate setup and meticulous attention to light and detail, Gregory Crewdson features work from several of his series as well as a short discussion regarding his overall process. With a film-director type approach he is able to highlight the beautiful and eerie moods of seemingly quaint locations. This book is an impressive display of one of America’s most acclaimed and theatrical photographers.

Who is this book for? This is a beautifully composed book of outstanding work by one of America’s most innovative modern photographers. With an extremely unique approach to the craft and stunning imagery to back him up, this piece is ideal for fine art photographers and admirers alike.

For more insight to Crewdson’s approach please check this video out:

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    • Some excellent suggestions, I've only encountered one book on the list so there's some good ideas for future reading.

      I'd like to also recommend Gregory Heisler's 50 Portraits which I'm working my way through at the moment. It's an amazing read for anyone interested in portrait photography; placing a huge emphasis on the creative process rather than the minutiae of technical and lighting info. One tip, don't bother with the ebook, the printed version is well printed and excellently priced, and the images deserve to be seen this way.

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    • Great list, and just in time for Christmas!  I'm especially interested in the Blogging for Photographers book since I am in the process of starting my own blog.  Hopefully it can make the learning curve a little smoother.

      I'm also looking forward to the new Art Wolfe book, "The Art of the photograph:  Essential habits for stronger compositions".  I don't usually buy my photography books in the e-book format, but I might go with the Kindle version of this one.  It's available in mid-December.

      Thanks for the info!

      Jennifer McCallum @

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    • Another book that I personally can't wait to check out isn't published yet, but looks like an important publication. 
      Our Beautiful, Fragile World

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    • I like them all

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    • I just got my Christmas present,

      No text, only pictures. A beautiful selection from photographes the Americans might not be aware of.
      Strong recommendation.

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    • This is content with Academic Purpose... is from my Master's Degree Work research about online learning.. this is the books concerning to photography.. I'm glad to share it with you guys.. 

      Trick Photography And Special Effects E-book

      Become Unique, Creative, And Artistic By Taking Breathtaking Photographs That Blow People's Minds Away! Dozens Of Rare Trick Photography Ideas Are Included In This 295 Page E-book, Along With 9 Hours Of How-to Photography Video Tutorials.

      Digital Photography Success

      Photography Ebooks And Recurring Monthly Photography Emagazine With Video Tutorial Every Month. Includes Lightroom 4 Instructions And Personalized One On One Support.

      Learn Digital Photography Now ( ! ! )

      Learn How To Quickly And Easily Start Taking Awesome Photos With Your Digital Camera, Even If You Are A Complete Newbie

      Photography Masterclass

      New! From Creator Of #1 Photography Product On CB - Video Tutorials For Beginner And Hobbyist Photographers. Anyone With A Dslr Camera Will Want To Get Their Hands On This!

      Froknowsphoto Beginner Guide To Getting Out Of Auto

      Photography Is The Fastest Growing Hobby And People Are Looking For This Video To Help Them Learn. More Pictures Are Taken Today Than Every Before.

      Learn Photo Editing

      Training Tutorials On How To Create Professional Looking Photos And Images Using Photoshop. Turn Your Photos Into Magazine Covers By Learning The Secrets Of Color Grading And Photo Manipulation!

      Project Gopro Ebook - Learn About The 5 Million Gopro Buyers

      This Book Aims To Teach The Growing Gopro Market Of 5 Million Plus Owners How To Master Their Camera. Gopro Products Are In High Demand And Timing Couldn't Be Better. Take Advantage Of This Opportunity!

      Photography Posing Secrets

      A Resource For Posing A Model For The Camera. Never Be Stuck For A Pose Again.

      How To Make Money Shooting Great Real Estate Photos

      Earn Up To $35 An Hour In Your Own Business Shooting Great Photos For Real Estate Agents Everywhere. More Than 2 Hours Of Video Instruction, The Course Takes You On A 90 Min. Shoot, And Explaines Equipment, and Using Photoshop.

      Digital Photography Emagazine - Focus Emagazine Special Offer

      Who Else Wants To Create Sharp, Colourful And Stunning Photos?

      Wedding Photography Secrets! #1 Book On Learning Photography

      Digital Wedding Secrets - Best Product On Wedding Photography. Highest Selling Product With Easy Conversions. Free Sign Up Lessons Provided. Max Payout Too!


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