Want to learn photography as art? Then this list is for you. Why only five books? Well, it usually takes a lifetime for one individual to assimilate and master every bit of information in these five books, and a good photographer spends more time shooting than reading.
I highly recommend starting from the first book and working your way down.
Ansel Adams’ The Camera, The Negative and The Print
Some might say film is dead, and many of the concepts outlined in the second and third books are obsolete. Not so! The tools have changed. The workflow has changed. But the art has not and the effort needed has not.
Ansel Adams is probably the only photographer who has achieved greatness in both art and technique. That should be reason enough to read what the man says.
Bruce Barnbaum’s The Art of Photography
The Art of Photography: A guide to personal expression is as good as a book on photography as art can get.
From how to define your art, to finding a path to your own personal mode of expression, this book has it all. If you are really serious about your art, this one is a must-have:
The author also explains technical concepts in a very lucid manner, and it has the best explanation of the Zone System I’ve seen.
Light: Science and Magic
by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, and Paul Fuqua
Once you’ve learnt about the camera and yourself, you are ready for the next stage: Light. Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting is your best introduction to the subject.
Light is the holy grail of great photography, and this book gives you the power to see light, predict it, and wield it like a jedi master.
Kenneth Kobre’s Photojournalism
Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach is a book that brings you down to the level of humans. It tells you there are as important things on earth as mountains and trees – they’re called humans.
If The Art of Photography started you on the path to self discovery, this will take you to the next level. By the end of this book you will have begun to see the matrix.
The Book that You Will Publish!
One learns by doing. One learns by doing and making mistakes. One learns from doing, making mistakes, and doing newer things. The only way you can become a true master is to publish your work – either as prints or as a book.
This is also a warning that there is only so much books can teach you. The rest is what you teach yourself. Go print your book!