Photography by Helen Kundicevic

Three Books Every Photographer Should Own

Must Read Photography Books


Reflections, meditations and ideas on photography

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Here is a great reading starter pack of books every photographer and lovers of photographs should own. They are all timeless cultural classics that are just as relevant and engaging today as they were in the 70’s and early 80’s when they were first published. Keep them on your bookshelf as with every re-reading gives more insights on the nature of photography, the photograph and visual culture unfold.

1Camera Lucida
by Roland Barthes

First published in 1980 Roland Barthes Camera Lucida is one of the most influential studies of photography. Bathes explores very personally the relationship between viewer and photograph. Barthes very personal investigations are woven through a particular photograph of his mother. He explores two notions on the reading and understanding of a photograph: The Studium – the cultural reading of an image – the photograph is understood through coded messages inbedded in a photograph and the Punctum – the accidental and subjective aspect in a photograph that triggers curiosity and admiration and in which the reading of the photograph becomes personal and emotional.


2On Photography
by Susan Sontag

On Photography by Susan Sontag is a book of essays published as a collection in 1977. In this book Sontag ‘examines a wide range of problems, both aesthetic and moral, raised by the presence and authority of the photographed image in the lives of everyone today’. Sontag covers the photographs relations to the conscience, to knowledge and to art and looks very closely at how and why photographs grip us so powerfully.


3Ways of Seeing
by John Berger

First published in 1972 Ways of Seeing by John Berger is another classic and highly influential collection of essays based on a BBC television series of the same name. The book is essentially an analyses of visual culture – Ways of Seeing – and explores the manner in which men and women are culturally represented through historical representations in art and publicity images. Berger looks at aspects of cultural politics through examining hidden ideologies in visual images and explores the idea of art as commodity.