While chatting with a couple other photographers over lunch a while back, we each confessed to having a few “must read” business books on our shelves that have been invaluable to our business’s growth and our own professional development. For those established photographers of any specialty and for new business owners alike, here’s a curated list of some of our favorites.
The Essential Business Book List for Photographers
The Professional Photographer’s Legal Handbook – we’re not legal professionals, but we all need a basic knowledge of the laws that pertain to our businesses!
2013 Photographer’s Market – This book starts with over a hundred pages of help for someone starting out in stock photography, and lists magazines and buyers of photography. This has been a solid guide (published annually) for decades.
ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography – an essential starting point for anyone launching their retail (ie: for portraits, weddings) or commercial (ie: for magazines, businesses, ads) photography business
Best business practices for photographers – long considered the “Bible” for any photographer, it contains everything and the kitchen sink. If you only read one photography business book, pick this one.
Tell the World You Don’t Suck: Modern Marketing for Commercial Photographers – irreverent, humorous and absolutely accurate. If you struggle with marketing, this is a good place to start
The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do – if you struggle with trying to figure out what your clients want, and how to set yourself apart, choose this book.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – if you have assistants, Seconds, students or difficult clients, this is the book for you.
So You Want To Be A Rockstar Photographer: Exploding The Myth And Real World Guidance – especially valuable business and industry information for those who want to specialize in the often difficult niche market of events, music, concerts and musicians
Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind – has there ever been a photographer who hasn’t felt over-extended, stressed and maxed out? This book has some practical, applicable and hands-on guidance for how to accomplish the important things on your agenda (thus keeping clients happy!)
The New Art of Capturing Love – for hundreds of years our “visual dictionary” of couple’s and family photography has included a couple of opposite genders. Today many photographers need to update their visual reference dictionary with poses and portrait options that work better for same-sex couples as well. This is the only guide out there to do just that!
Book Yourself Solid – this book focuses on why self-promotion is a critical factor to success, and provides the strategies, techniques, and skills necessary to get more clients and increase profits. Includes a number of hands-on exercises too!
All of these are fabulous resources so it doesn’t hurt to add all of these to your reading library eventually, but if you’d like to spread out your learning, get together with some photographer friends, book-club style and each commit to reading and reviewing one of the titles. Make up a one page book report of the new things you have learned and, as a minimum you’ll have a “Cole’s Notes” version of several of these books in the time it takes you to read one. (Team work rocks!)
What are your most essential book recommendations? Share the titles in the comments!
Kat Forder creates stories of life, love and make-believe from her studio in Maryland and around the world. On her days off you can catch her curled up with a cup of tea and a good book, or roaming with her two Shetland Sheepdogs.