Books for Beginner Fine Art Photographers

Books for Beginner Fine Art Photographers

Beginner Fine Art Photographers

Yesterday I wrote about how to get started with fine art photography. I thought I’d continue that theme today with a couple of my favourite books for beginner fine art photographers.

Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus: Modern Photography Explained

This book is a great and easy read. It explains some of the commonly misunderstood aspects of modern photography. I also have the companion book to this one “Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That”. Both are worth a read if you know anyone who has ever uttered the phrase “I could have done that” while standing in an art gallery.

What I find these two books most useful for is having a range of arguments at my fingertips to counter those who insist on being negative about modern and contemporary art because they don’t understand it. Believe me, despite studying Art History, sometimes the arguments I make aren’t that clear and I need a bit of help.

But if you want to understand the absolute basics about the art photography that hangs on the walls of galleries, this is an ideal first book. It explains technical terms where needed but is generally written in a pretty non-jargony way.

The Photograph as Contemporary Art

This book on contemporary art photography is a slightly more difficult read. But it’s not like you can’t start with this one, it just might require a bit more brainpower than the book I talked about above! Although there are pictures, it’s quite text-heavy.

If you want to know more about the photographers who have made up the contemporary photography movement then this book is one for you. It has loads of pictures in it and talks about different kinds of contemporary photography from art to documentary.

There’s lots of inspiration to be found in this book. And although extensive it is very concise. An excellent book to have on the shelf to flick through when you want to find a new and interesting photographer for inspiration.

Why Art Photography?

When a work colleague found out that I was going to university to study History of Art he asked me if I was going to become one of those “Lucy Soutter types.” (I still love him to pieces, but he was always much more into technical photography than art!)

This is a great book if you want to really get behind the scenes of art photography. It is packed full of theory and discussion and covers most of the key areas that are relevant to fine art photography. The book explains not just how photographers do things, but why they might do things.

Soutter’s writing is articulate and lively, although can feel impenetrable if you’ve never read slightly more advanced books on art theory before. It isn’t the easiest to read, but it certainly is rewarding.


Let me know if you have a favourite book on art photography that I should check out. I’m going to try and write some reviews while I’m confined to the house, and thankfully various bookshops are still delivering!

Don’t forget, on a related note, that if you’re interested in entering art photography into competitions, you can subscribe to my newsletter that I send out monthly. It rounds up some of the best opportunities for competitions and for funding that I find.


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