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Phlogger aka Andrew Walmsley

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4 reasons to buy photography books

We put this “4 reasons to buy photography books” together after receiving some lovely books at Christmas.

After talking to fellow photographers, it seemed prevalent to discuss where books stand in 2018.

4 reasons to buy photography books


There are many books out there too to aid your photography. These are presented in different formats (sizes) and colours (b+w, colour) and discuss different areas of photography.  Each of the areas offer a reason why you should still buy printed books.

Let us break the books in to types:

  • instructional (“how to” type)
  • collections (photos from career of important)
  • specific genre
  • art (like Hoxton)

Reason 1 – Instructional

You might refer these books as “how to” type guides as they are instructional and educational.  Everyone has needed advice on how to do something in photography career at some point.  This will happen again in the future too.  So why not let somebody with experience guide you?


There are books that focus on improving your photography like:


Beginners Photography Guide

by DK





Fifty paths to creative photography

by Michael Freeman




How many have bought a new camera, opened the manual and thought oh god?  After minutes you put it down as its full of stuff you already know or don’t use.  But buried within the hundreds of pages will be something useful to you.  Why not consider something more concise and focused.

Here a few examples for my cameras:

The Nikon d200 book – guide to DSLR Photography




Olympus OM-D EM10 fotoguide

by Heiner Henninges

Reason 2 – Specific genres

Once you start your photography journey you realise there are so many genres!  From portrait to weddings, astro, wildlife and drones (which are gaining popularity).

Focusing on one area of photography is always a good way of improving.  Like any hobby, you get better by repetition, so keep firing that shutter.  At some point you will know what you are comfortable at shooting and find your niche.

So consider improving your work by looking at examples from other photographers of that genre.  For example, if you are an avid street photography fan, then this should help:


Street photography now

by Sophie Howarth & Stephen McLaren



Depending on your interests there are books by the masters. In this example this is a book by the grand daddy of film – Ansel Adams.  He produced a series that covered elements such as the camera, through developing and printing. They can be picked up in second hand book shops (great reference source):

New photo series 1: Camera

by Ansel Adams


Reason 3 – Art

Art is a subjective and personal, but any form of art can help you be creative.  Fine art is a typical example, where every shot has meaning and the contents too. Some books in this genre are not just about art but the philosophy side of photography too.

For instance this book has no pictures:

Susan Sontag on Photography




You might also look at fashion photography too, which can sit between fine art and fashion.  There is every reason to consider books by painters, sculptors or dancers that can aid your creativity.


Any of these can provide ideas that can be turned in to images.  They may also allow the creative side of your brain rather than reading from a manual and replicating someone.



Consider the history of photography and those in the industry for either background knowledge or help.  For instance, photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson have decades of images.  These type of greats you can learn much from, as their equipment was very different to today’s technology.

Here are a couple of famous examples:

Vivian Maier: A photographer found

by John Maloof



Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment (very rare)

by Henri Cartier-Bresoon




Finding a collection of theirs may help you look at ideas and find inspiration.  Maybe you want to really push yourself and use similar equipment and see what you can achieve?

4 reasons to buy photography books

(from Hoxton)

In this second part of the article, we will look at a wonderful publisher in London.  Again, we will look at reasons why you should still invest in books.

Reason 1 – The people

4 reasons to buy photography books

Having emailed the team, they were nothing but courteous.   The people at Hoxton come across very friendly and family based like they personally care.  They select who gets published and put all their effort into delivering something wonderful.

Of course, the artistry inside is the most important part, but the presentation, style, marketing and service all matter.

How many companies do you know who give away books?  Check out this link.

Who knows maybe one day we can collaborate and bring you something personal/intimate from Hoxton Press.


Reason 2 – Beautiful


Their website is simple and lovely to look through, drawing you in.  They put time and effort to advertise their books.

Their printed work is even better in the flesh, the book and the complimentary insert is very classy.  The style is continued throughout their social presence, website and printed work.

Then you feel the quality of the binding and paper, which is just stunning.  Go out and visit a book shop now (click here for stockists) to see if for yourself (mainly London-based).


Reason 3 – Artists

4 reasons to buy photography books
On the night bus by Nick Turpin

It is nice that in 2018 paper books are still being printed to this quality.  Hoxton Press seem to choose really different photographers for their books too.  It is about art, the pictures follow a specific project and theme (though all around London area).

There is a variety in the books too, so something for everyone.  This article/review was based my experience for the book “On the night bus” by Nick Turpin.

The work is not about tack sharp images and perfect lighting, the images are about real things.

Reason 4 – Ideas

Humans are visual learners, whether it’s a video or a book, they are all useful mediums.  A book is locked in time and can still provide you with fresh ideas.  For instance, Nick Turpin’s book is all about street photography but at night.  This made me think how this could be carried out locally.  This is a compliment to Nick, he chose a great idea and delivered quality work.

4 reasons to buy photography books
Badly Repaired Cars’ by Ronni Campana

If you are unsure about your next project and looking for ideas, books are great places to flick through.  The book could be on any subject, whether its art, nature or history.  It only takes one picture to kick-start your creativity and spark a few neutrons.

Use a pen, unplug from the digital world a minute and write down your idea. Formulate a plan or draw your next project.


Although this article focused on Hoxton Press, they were one example.  You should always pass on the good work of others and never for any other reason (monetary gain).  If you have a good experience with a book or publisher, do not be afraid to get in touch.  The phlogger is open-minded person and always listens to others.

Books are great for the soul, allow you to log off the grid.  They will inspire you to try something new.  A book is unique to you and can be a very personal item. Maybe someone bought one as a present and inscribed a message.  Digital e-books have their place, but cannot replace pulp.

For some it will be the smell of paper, the colorisation of paper or the feel of print. It is analogue, but not a step backwards.

We wrote 4 reasons to buy photography books, but that was just a guide.

Do you agree?

Have they inspired you?

My mantra is “be true”, this just means be yourself, do not pretend to be anyone else. This article and all others are about helping you photographers, no matter what your ability is.


Thanks for reading.







PS Thanks to Hoxton Press for allowing usage of their images

PPS Don’t forget to check out the Phlogger’s e-books on the website under “resources

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