When people ask me how they can become a better photographer, I always have a number of suggestions. And one of the ways I suggest is to look at the work of other photographers. But not just any photographer–it’s important to look at those folks who are creating work at the highest level of this visual art, people who have shaped the medium of photography.
The best way to see their work is to look at the actual prints because that way you see the finished piece exactly as the artist intended. So, you go to their exhibitions. This isn’t always possible, of course, so the next best thing is to buy their books.
I try to take my own advice in that regard and recently picked up two new books–both beautiful, both inspiring.
First, The Vanities, by Larry Fink. As an event photographer myself, I loved seeing Larry Fink’s approach at fancy parties. It’s so interesting what’s he’s drawn to, what he responds to, and what–for him–is an accurate interpretation of the night’s events.
I love this book and wish I could be at one of those parties–not to see the celebrities–I’d love to watch Mr. Fink do his thing.
The other book I bought is from the fashion/celebrity/editorial photographer Michael Thompson. The people in this book are all recognizable and you’ve no doubt already seen some of these pictures in Details, Allure, Vanity Fair and the list goes on and on. The work is all highly staged, stylized, and intelligent. Looking at these pictures you get the sense that it’s a heavy collaboration between the photographer and the subject. These images are so different than the kinds of things I shoot, but the clever choices and surprises in these pictures are what inspire me about Michael Thompson’s photography.
What about you? What are some of your favorite photography books?