The most recommended books about photographers

Who picked these books? Meet our 33 experts.

33 authors created a book list connected to photographers, and here are their favorite photographer books.
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Book cover of If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

Liz Harmer Author Of Strange Loops

From my list on Eros and Thanatos desire mixed with doom.

Who am I?

For about five years, I became obsessed by the question of erotic possession, of the kind erotic love that would be so powerful it would be difficult to distinguish from a desire for annihilation, especially at times when one’s life seems so settled and easy. Why does this sort of love overtake a person? As I began to write my own novel addressing this theme, I read everything I could find on the subject, including many not listed here. I have become a hobbyist of the question of romantic ruination, and I am now preparing to teach a course on the subject. 

Liz's book list on Eros and Thanatos desire mixed with doom

Liz Harmer Why did Liz love this book?

Naga’s beautiful, poetic prose is pervaded with an overwhelming sense that things will end very badly.

An Arab-American woman meets a “boy from Shobrakheit,” and the two begin a damaged, damaging romance in a book that’s been described as a “postcolonial novel for the twenty-first century.”

Desire mixes up with more complicated feelings, such as pity and resentment, feelings that stem from their cultural and class differences, and their relationship, told in alternating points-of-view, is soon touched with a threat of violence—and then more than a threat—of violence. 

By Noor Naga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, an Egyptian American woman and a man from the village of Shobrakheit meet at a cafe in Cairo. He was a photographer of the revolution, but now finds himself unemployed and addicted to cocaine, living in a rooftop shack. She is a nostalgic daughter of immigrants "returning" to a country she's never been to before, teaching English and living in a light-filled flat with balconies on all sides. They fall in love and he moves in. But soon their desire-for one another, for the selves they want to become through the other-takes a…

Book cover of Darwinia

Don Kinney Author Of The Darkdrift

From my list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by science and space since I was a child and naturally gravitated toward science fiction. In many respects, it was a form of escapism, as I didn’t enjoy school. I always preferred escaping into another world or being taken on a journey to another world. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that most great science fiction is a commentary on our own world and the issues we face daily. Science fiction, more than any other genre, does a better job of exploring and dissecting aspects of our world, which in turn helps us better understand our world and our relationship with it.

Don's book list on sci-fi for newbies, from a newbie sci-fi writer

Don Kinney Why did Don love this book?

Darwinia was the first novel I read by Robert Charles Wilson, who I believe is the best modern-day science fiction writer. Darwinia was a novel I had to read twice to really grasp how brilliantly Wilson had woven everything together. This is one of those novels where the ending can sneak up on you and blow you away and you weren’t even remotely prepared, which is preferred over any ending that I can predict.

By Robert Charles Wilson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Darwinia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In an alternative history of the twentieth century, Europe is replaced by a land of nightmarish jungle and monsters that contains the secret of human destiny.

Book cover of Lewis Carroll: Photographer

Mark Davies Author Of Alice in Waterland: Lewis Carroll and the River Thames in Oxford

From my list on Lewis Carroll and Alice.

Who am I?

I am an Oxford local historian, and the only Oxford guide endorsed by the Lewis Carroll Society. I have helped shape Oxford’s annual Alice’s Day since the first one in 2007, and have participated in French, Dutch, Canadian, Brazilian and British TV and radio documentaries, most notably for BBC 2 and BBC Radio 4. My interest is mainly the many Oxford realities which are hidden away within the apparent fantasy of the ‘Alice’ books, an angle which has enabled me to lecture on this internationally famous topic as far away as Assam in India. Subsequently, my appreciation of Carroll’s versatility as a mathematician, photographer, inventor, diarist, and letter writer has grown steadily over the years.

Mark's book list on Lewis Carroll and Alice

Mark Davies Why did Mark love this book?

Mention the name ‘Lewis Carroll’ and most people will immediately think of the two Alice books. Very few would equate the name to Charles Dodgson, the photographer. This, however, is the aspect of the multi-talented Oxford don which Gernsheim, a professional photographer himself, appraised in his 1949 first edition for the very first time, concluding that Dodgson was ‘the most outstanding photographer of children in the nineteenth century. Many of the black and white plates substantiate this claim, but equally, Dodgson’s mastery of this new invention enabled him to meet and photograph (sometimes uniquely) numerous famous writers and artists, as well as many Oxford contemporaries. As an aside, Edward Wakeling’s 2015 Catalogue Raisonné is a comprehensive listing of every one of Dodgson’s hundreds of known photographs.

By Helmut Gernsheim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lewis Carroll as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With 63 photographs by Lewis Carroll . 8vo pp. 128 Brossura (wrappers) Molto Buono (Very Good)

Book cover of Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keeffe

Katherine Sherbrooke Author Of Leaving Coy's Hill

From my list on the real lives of kick-ass women.

Who am I?

I was never much of a history student. Facts and figures rarely stick in my brain until I have a character—their feelings, hopes, fears, and dreams—to pair them with, so I rely a lot on historical fiction to understand different places and times. I’m also a believer that our culture too often serves up the impression that marginalized people have forever hopelessly struggled, held back by those in power. But there are so many true stories that reveal the opposite, in this case, women fighting for their dreams and winning! I aim to bring these stories to light in a way that keeps the pages turning. 

Katherine's book list on the real lives of kick-ass women

Katherine Sherbrooke Why did Katherine love this book?

I’m fascinated by historical fiction that sticks to the “facts” of a person’s life but imagines and richly describes that person’s inner world—in this case Georgia O’Keefe’s. The novel focuses on the young painter’s love affair with Alfred Stieglitz, an established photographer and art dealer. Before the art world knows Georgia O’Keefe as a ground-breaking artist in her own right, she is introduced as the female nude in Stieglitz’s photographs. Does her art gain notice in part because of this scandalous introduction, or does it merely eroticize her and her work? And while she learns much from Stieglitz, what does this relationship cost her? This book is masterfully “painted” with O’Keefe-like brush strokes that assemble a tantalizing picture and still leave much to the imagination.

By Dawn Tripp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Georgia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • In a dazzling work of historical fiction in the vein of Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank, Dawn Tripp brings to life Georgia O’Keeffe, her love affair with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and her quest to become an independent artist.

This is not a love story. If it were, we would have the same story. But he has his, and I have mine.

In 1916, Georgia O’Keeffe is a young, unknown art teacher when she travels to New York to meet Stieglitz, the famed photographer and art dealer, who has discovered O’Keeffe’s work and exhibits it in his gallery. Their…

Book cover of Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

Marlene Adelstein Author Of Sophie Last Seen

From my list on by and about strong-willed, independent women.

Who am I?

As a reader, I’m drawn to characters and subjects I can relate to. Strong women who go their own way, ones who march to their own drummer. There is a raw honesty to their stories with subjects of creativity, grief, and loss. And as a writer of both fiction and personal essay, I write about these same issues as well, subjects I seem to turn to again and again. When I write, I try to tap into the emotions that might be buried but I’m always looking to move my readers whether it’s with tears or laughter, and the women in the books I chose do that for me. 

Marlene's book list on by and about strong-willed, independent women

Marlene Adelstein Why did Marlene love this book?

Hold Still by Sally Mann – another memoir by an intriguing, strong-willed, fascinating woman. I became interested in Sally Mann when I first saw her book of amazing photographs of her children, Immediate Family. Since then I kept up with her photography and was thrilled to read her memoir. She writes of her childhood in the south, her parents, her relationship with her husband and children, the controversy surrounding those early stages photographs, her career, and beyond in absolutely lovely prose accompanied by many photos. She’s an impressive, talented woman, and her success is well deserved.

By Sally Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hold Still as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This National Book Award finalist is a revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history from acclaimed photographer Sally Mann.

In this groundbreaking book, a unique interplay of narrative and image, Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are revealed as almost genetically predetermined, written into her DNA by the family history that precedes her.

Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: "deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land . . . racial complications,…

Book cover of Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

Elizabeth Brown Author Of Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler

From my list on women artists who broke barriers.

Who am I?

I have been involved in the arts all my life, working as a writer, in film, and as a musician. I have degrees in music and creative writing and have studied visual arts and art history extensively as well. Besides being an author, I teach writing and humanities at the college level. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do!

Elizabeth's book list on women artists who broke barriers

Elizabeth Brown Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Dorothea Lange struggled with disease and disability and eventually found her path, becoming one of America’s greatest photographers through her ability to capture the human experience notably through photographs of people in the Great Depression. This book not only helps readers learn about Lange, but it aids them in understanding this difficult time in United States’ history. The illustrations are colorful and engaging, portraying a wide range of emotions that express the essence of Lange and her work. 

By Carole Boston Weatherford, Sarah Green (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dorothea Lange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

STARRED REVIEW! "Weatherford never talks down to her audience…using figurative language and rich vocabulary to tell her story…Green's debut as a picture-book illustrator is brilliant…A fine introduction to an important American artist."―Kirkus Reviews starred review

Dorothea Lange saw what others missed.

Before she raised her lens to take her most iconic photo, Dorothea Lange took photos of the downtrodden, from bankers in once-fine suits waiting in breadlines, to former slaves, to the homeless sleeping on sidewalks. A case of polio had left her with a limp and sympathetic to those less fortunate. Traveling across the United States, documenting with her…

Book cover of Dorothea's Eyes: Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth

Kaye Baillie Author Of Railroad Engineer Olive Dennis

From my list on girl-power picture book biographies.

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning children’s author who lives in Australia. I love reading and writing picture books, and although I mostly write fiction, I also love writing biographies. I am drawn to stories about women who have achieved something inspirational and unexpected and who may have not received wide recognition at the time or that any recognition has faded from public knowledge. I find it exciting to work with a team, that is the illustrator and the publisher, to create books that will find their way to children and allow them to imagine and feel another person’s life, and to see that everyday people do amazing things.

Kaye's book list on girl-power picture book biographies

Kaye Baillie Why did Kaye love this book?

The cover shows a woman peering into her camera. She holds the camera carefully, gently and with purpose. Inside, the attractive illustrations show Dorothea Lange who, as a child, was sick leaving her feeling invisible. But the world wasn’t invisible to her. She surprised everyone when she announced one day that she was going to be a photographer. Was it unladylike? What did that even mean? It didn’t matter to Dorothea, who refused to look away from the suffering of people. She used her photos to show that each person is special. Without Dorothea, the images she captured would remain invisible, when they all deserved to be visible. Actual photographs and timeline at the end of this book make it even more fascinating.

By Barb Rosenstock, Gerard Dubois (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dorothea's Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

"An excellent beginner's resource for biography, U.S. history, and women's studies." -Kirkus Reviews

Here is the powerful and inspiring biography of Dorothea Lange, activist, social reformer, and one of the founders of documentary photography.

After a childhood bout of polio left her with a limp, all Dorothea Lange wanted to do was disappear.

But her desire not to be seen helped her learn how to blend into the background and observe. With a passion for the artistic life, and in spite of her family's disapproval, Lange pursued her dream to become a photographer and focused her lens on the previously…

Book cover of Diane Arbus: A Biography

Phoebe Hoban Author Of Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty

From my list on genre-bending artists: inside and out.

Who am I?

I grew up in a creative family. My father was an illustrator before becoming a children’s book author and novelist. My mother, a trained dancer, became my father’s collaborator, illustrating their internationally-known Frances books. They inspired me and encouraged me to develop my own talent. I started writing at nine, and have never stopped since. I became a journalist, writing about culture and art for The New York times, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue, among others. I am also the author of three well-received artist biographies: Basquiat: A Quick Killing in Art; Lucian Freud: Eyes Wide Open; and Alice Neel: The Art of Not Sitting Pretty.

Phoebe's book list on genre-bending artists: inside and out

Phoebe Hoban Why did Phoebe love this book?

When I set out to write my first biography I was terrified, with the writers’ equivalent of stage fright. I needed something to jump start me, and the late Patricia Bosworth’s wonderful biography of Diane Arbus did the trick. It steadied my nerves and gave me a practical place to start. I forced myself to write the first paragraph of the book after reading the first few pages of Bosworth’s classic biography of the photographer, who was as original as she was tragic. 

By Patricia Bosworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Diane Arbus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Diane Arbus's unsettling photographs of dwarves and twins, transvestites and giants, both polarized and inspired, and her work had already become legendary when she committed suicide in 1971. This groundbreaking biography examines the private life behind Arbus's controversial art. The book deals with Arbus's pampered Manhattan childhood, her passionate marriage to Allan Arbus, their work together as fashion photographers, the emotional upheaval surrounding the end of their marriage, and the radical, liberating, and ultimately tragic turn Arbus's art took during the 1960s when she was so richly productive. This edition includes a new afterword by Patricia Bosworth that covers the…

Book cover of Lies We Bury

Tori Eldridge Author Of The Ninja Daughter

From my list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity.

Who am I?

As a multicultural author, born in Honolulu of Hawaiian, Chinese, Norwegian descent, I am drawn to mainstream thrillers that feature diverse characters and explore non-mainstream cultures. Since I also hold a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts and have traveled the United States teaching martial arts and empowerment, authentic fight scenes in fiction are a must! Nothing turns me off quicker than a shallow representation of culturally diverse characters or mundane and improbable action. I strive for authenticity, emotion, and page-turning action in my Lily Wong ninja thrillers, so it’s probably no surprise that I value these elements in the novels I read.

Tori's book list on thrillers with action, emotion, and diversity

Tori Eldridge Why did Tori love this book?

As with my own Lily Wong novels, Lies We Bury is an exciting blend of thriller, mystery, and cultural family dynamics. Elle Marr hooked me from the start and kept me binge-reading through twists and heart-wrenching emotions to a finish that took away my breath. Although no fighting, per se, the action and suspense kept me on edge. It’s always refreshing to read a novel with an empowered, fully-dimensional female Asian protagonist. 

By Elle Marr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lies We Bury as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A novel about secrets and revenge by the number one Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Missing Sister. It's only by confronting who she was then that she can understand who she is now.

I was born in captivity...

Two decades ago Marissa Mo escaped a basement prison-the only home she'd ever known. At twenty-seven, Marissa's moved beyond the trauma and is working under a new name as a freelance photographer. But when she accepts a job covering a string of macabre murders in Portland, it's impossible for Marissa not to remember.

Everything is eerily familiar. The same underground lairs.…

Book cover of Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

Robert E. May Author Of Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory

From Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Retired professor Southern history buff

Robert's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Robert E. May Why did Robert love this book?

I have always been fascinated with Edward Curtis, ever since my wife previewed a documentary film about him with memorable footage on Pacific Northwest Kwakiutls and their potlach rituals in preparation for showing it to one of her courses at Purdue University.

Then I became fascinated with Western art, when she and I researched together our book on the artist Howard Pyle (Howard Pyle: Imagining an American School of Art), because Pyle had a close friendship with that great artist Frederick Remington, who often focused on Native Americans, for his subject matter. We often saw Remington’s fine paintings and sculptures on visiting the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis.

So, it was a no brainer for me to realize that Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher was a must read given my interests, and the book did not disappoint. I was captivated from the very first paragraphs contextualizing Curtis’s arrival…

By Timothy Egan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Notable Book
A Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction

New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Timothy Egan reveals the life story of the man determined to preserve a people and culture in Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis.

“A vivid exploration of one man's lifelong obsession with an idea . . . Egan’s spirited biography might just bring [Curtis] the recognition that eluded him in life.” ​— ​The Washington Post

Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous portrait…