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10 Best Photography Books for Inspiration

Need to come up with your next big shoot? Grab these epic photography books for inspiration.

A photoshoot is a work of art that requires more planning than people want to believe. The greatest shots ever taken are rarely (if ever) spur-of-the-moment pictures taken on a whim. They were planned out, with careful consideration over the entirety of the shot's composition.

Of course, it's hard to plan for something that you can't really come up with ideas for. Getting a little inspiration is nothing to be ashamed of; everyone needs it from time to time.

Most famous artists have grabbed photography books for inspiration in the past. These titles below are excellent sources of inspiration when you're stuck in a creative rut. After all, art is theft.

The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum

The Art of Photography is considered to be one of the best photography books for inspiration on the market, and an essential books for every photographer to read. This book was first published in 1994, and has become the go-to for all kinds of advice on taking great photos.

Over 200 photographs in both color and black and white are stored away within its pages. Bruce is able to offer up advice that will help you improve your shots, as well as amazing examples of what happens when you start getting into photography.

Extraordinary Everyday Photography: Awaken Your Vision to Create Stunning Images Wherever You Are by Brenda Tharp

Do you ever feel like you don't have access to interesting topics or models? Does it feel like every major shoot takes place in a faraway place like Dubai or the Bahamas?

Extraordinary Everyday Photography is one of the better photography books for inspiration in everyday life. Brenda Tharp offers you advice on how to use exposure, your natural thought processes, and composition to make amazing street photography happen in an instant.

400 Photographs by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is king of old school street photography, and he also makes a lot of great books for photographers that are seeking out inspiration for their own shots. This book, as the title suggests, contains 400 of his best shots.

His incredible career has spanned over 40 years, from the 1910s to the 1950s. You will love seeing his slices of Americana—and also realize how your modern shots will appear to future viewers.

Richard Avedon: Photographs 1946–2004 by Michael Holm

Richard Avedon had a career that would make just about any photographer turn green with envy. He made a name for himself photographing the American West, then turned to fashion and high art during his later career.

If you love Avedon's work or just want to check out great books for photographers, you really can't do better than this title. Every bit of his artwork is added in glorious detail and on premium paper.

Spectacle by National Geographic

Most photographers yearn to get a byline in National Geographic, and why wouldn't they? This publication has become famous for having award winning photographs that celebrate the world around us.

National Geographic: Spectacle is a collection of the best photographs ever submitted to the publication. This is one of the better photography books for inspiration—granted, you might not be able to travel far enough to get the same shots.

Even so, it's nice to dream and even better to plan.

In Focus: National Geographic's Greatest Portraits by National Geographic

Though landscapes are what National Geographic is most well-known for, their portraits are nothing to sneeze at, either. In Focus takes a look at the celebrated magazine's best portrait photos, and exactly what makes them so wonderful.

If you're a budding portrait photographer, you can never go wrong with what the greats have made. You will be inspired by the raw intensity of the shots inside this book.

Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson

Photographer Bryan Peterson gained acclaim for his ability to see things in another light. His photos have gotten accolades, awards, and international attention—even when the photo subject isn't necessarily that impressive.

Learning to See Creatively is his guide to getting photographers to rethink what they see and how they plan out photographs. You don't have to pore over this book in order to see a change when your journey in photography begins. Even reading this on your spare time can make a world of difference.

Ray K. Metzker: Light Lines by William Ewing

During the 1950s, Ray K. Metzker was known as the number one avant-garde photographer in the world. His unique takes on everyday life, and the way that he used shadows and light made his work unmistakeable.

Metzker continues to inspire those who want to turn light into art. This beautiful photo book will inspire, but will also look great on a coffee table too.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Humans of New York is one of the greatest viral photography campaigns in recent history. It's a campaign Brandon Stanton started when he was curious about the lives of fellow New Yorkers.

This book, that's composed of some of his best interviews and shots, is an incredible source of inspiration. For any portrait photographer who wants to have a reminder of the human behind the photos, Humans of New York is one of the best portrait photography books ever published.

Photography: The Definitive History by Tom Ang

Tom Ang is a writer, broadcaster, and photography extraordinaire. He gained his inspiration from great artists of the past—and now, you can see what he saw in them when you're looking through photography books for inspiration, too!

Photography: The Definitive Visual History goes back through the first 200 years of photography. From the art's meager roots to the amazing shots of today. This book remains an amazing trip through time.

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