Three Great Books to Improve Your Photography Career

Whatever your style of photography, these three books are guaranteed to change the way you work

When I first started this journey of being a freelancer, I really didn’t have much of a clue about running a business. But the more jobs I got the more I realised what skills I needed to brush up on and dived head first in to a wide range of books, video and podcasts.

I’ll start in reverse chronological order, just to confuse things slightly. Best Business Practices for Photographers, by John Harrington, has been a huge game changer since I picked up a copy earlier this summer. I was told to buy it over three years ago, but for some reason kept putting it off. What a waste! Inside you’ll find sound advice on image licensing, invoicing clients, pricing your work and backing up your digital files. It’s already paid for itself, as I now add separate line items, such as transport costs and a fee for uploading images to my website for clients. Buy it; you won’t regret it.

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Next up is No Plastic Sleeves; a book aimed at helping creative folk find their branding, and present it in a well-designed portfolio. Just looking at some of the ideas makes you realise how much talent there is out there, forcing you to reconsider just how hard you need to work to truly stand out. They also have a website that is handy if you’re looking for inspiration and ideas.

Both the book and website are perfect if you want to spend time defining your image and crafting something amazing.

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Last on my list is The Hot Shoe Diaries, by Joe McNally. Some of you might be familiar with Joe’s style and portfolio, but for those who don’t he’s a man who’s pretty much done everything in the photography world.

This book centres on flash photography (I prefer the term Creative Light) and shows the readers techniques and written accounts of how he got the shot. I was introduced to it back in 2009, on the way to London to photograph a protest-turned-riot. The opening chapters introduced me to flash / camera settings that I applied that day, achieving pleasing results.

But it wasn’t until October 2013, after I met him in Copenhagen, that I was turned on to his musings once again. So I picked up a copy of this book and immediately set about experimenting with coloured gels, snoots, c-stands and reflectors. I spent a small fortune to get all of these new toys, of course, but I now use them as often as possible

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All three of these books will have a positive impact on your photography and business skills, though No Plastic Sleeves is a bit harder to digest. If you have access to a space where you can create, and tools to get the job done (leather, wood, a drill) then you’ll have lots of fun with this one.

Biz Practices for Togs is pure written information, without any beauty, but it really makes you feel that someone is on your side who knows the industry inside and out. And McNally is just McNally. If he doesn’t make you want to learn flash then nothing will.

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