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Photo.net Holiday Gift Guide

Books & Magazines

...and Subscriptions

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Books and Magazines are a great way to share knowledge and beautiful photography with your favorite giftee on your list. Or how about a gift renewal to their favorite photography community site Photo.net? Whether it's a book on a specific photography technique, a historical reference book featuring stunning images, or books on how-to processes for developing images digitally, options abound.

Josh Root, Director of Community and Contributing Editor, Emre Safak, Digital Darkroom Forum Moderator, and Hannah Thiem, Managing Editor, take a look at a variety of book and magazine options and recommend a few that would make great stocking stuffers.

Photo.net's Top Book Picks

On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide, (compare prices), by David Hurn and Bill Jay. David Hurn is a Magnum photographer whose work has appeared all across the world. Bill Jay is a noted photography writer and professor. Together they have written a book that takes a wonderful look at what it means to be a photographer. They cover subjects from why equipment choices matter (or not), what can be gained by approaching your photography with a specific project in mind, subject vs. technique, being "lucky" and many other photographic concepts that are often forgotten by other "photographer" books. This isn't a "how to photograph" book. It's a conversation between two excellent and knowledgeable photographers about what photography and being a photographer means to them. Well worth everyone's time to read (sayeth Josh).

The Best of Wedding Photojournalism: Techniques and Images from the Pros, (compare prices), by Bill Hurter. Master photojournalists offer advice on everything from lenses to lighting to photographing the preceremony excitement and the ceremony itself. In addition to tips and sample photographs, this book details the equipment, planning, and keen sense of observation needed to capture all the wonderful moments of the wedding.

Minimalist Lighting, (compare prices), by Kirk Tuck. This book is perfect for any commercial, wedding, and portrait photographers working on location who want to maximize their time behind the camera and minimize their time spent hauling cumbersome lighting equipment. The tips show how to select easily portable and versatile equipment for location shoots, cutting down on the packing and porting of expensive equipment. This reference shows photographers how to work with smaller and lighter-weight lighting equipment without sacrificing quality. Whether shooting portraits, landscapes, or interiors, whether indoors or out, photographers will embrace the portable approach offered in this valuable resource.

The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from one of the World's Top Shooters, (compare prices), by Joe McNally. Joe is one of the top photographers in this era of digital, and his photos have appeared in Sports Illustrated, Time, and National Geographic. This book inspires, challenges, informs. It will help you understand photography and the art of making great photos through distilling concepts down to the basics, complete with an illustration of the concept, as well as the inside story of how that shot was taken. In essence, it's a book of Joe's secret recipes, revealed.

The Creative Digital Darkroom, (compare prices), by Katrin Eismann. This tutorial geared towards intermediate and advanced photographers, artists, and educators, takes photographers beyond the quick tips and gimmicky effects of many digital photography books. Author Katrin Eismann—an internationally acclaimed artist, bestselling author, and gifted educator—offers high-profile work, including her own, as examples for teaching photographers how to use the digital medium to create, edit, and output images that reflect their true vision.

Scott Kelby's Guide to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2, (compare prices), by Scott Kelby. In his own personal style, Scott walks you through the basics and the advanced featured of Lightroom 2, sharing tips and tricks, which tools to use, which to avoid and why. There are 2 particularly interesting chapters in the book on "In exactly what order am I supposed to do things in Lightroom" and "Where does Photoshop fit in to the mix?" This book helps you get started right away with this very powerful editing tool, Lightroom 2.

The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images, (compare prices), by Angela Faris Belt. This book offers step-by-step guidance including informative screen shots, traditional darkroom and Photoshop techniques, suggested exercises, and before and after images help both film and digital photographers improve their skills, learn new techniques, and better understand their craft. It includes more than 300 impressive, full color images and portfolios featuring the work of over 40 prestigious artists provide visual inspiration as well as a gorgeous collection of artwork for photography enthusiasts.

Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting, (compare prices), by Fil Hunter, Steven Biver, and Paul Fuqua, This is the bible of lighting. Unlike many other photographic lighting books, Light Science and Magic never goes out of style because it's based on the science and theory of the lighting process, not on whatever "look" is trendy this decade. While invaluable to those who wish to get better at studio lighting, this book is a must-read for every photographer. There is just too much information here for any self respecting photographer to miss out on.

Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography, (compare prices), by Michael Grecco. World-renowned celebrity photographer shares the secrets of great portraits with photographers at every level. The book includes sections on cameras, illumination, film and digital, creativity and conceptualization, connecting with the subject, and having a point of view, plus intriguing case studies that show "how I got that picture." Whether the subject is a star or a soccer mom, Grecco shows how to add artistry, drama, wit, humor, and personality to their portrait.

Welcome to Oz: A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography with Photoshop (VOICES), (compare prices), by Vincent Versace Creating memorable photographs is a process that starts before you edit an image in Photoshop, before you capture the image, even before you pick up the camera. Versace explains how you must first approach the subject with the proper sense of perception, with the ability to visualize the finished print before you commit a scene to pixels, but still be flexible and spontaneous. This book delves into what it means to approach digital photography cinematically, to use your perception, your camera, and Photoshop to capture the movement of life in a still image.

National Geographic: The Photographs

National Geographic: The Photographs, (compare prices), edited by Linda Bendavid-Val. Admit it, deep in your heart of hearts, you've always dreamed of taking photos for National Geographic. We all have that dream. And while very few of us will ever be able to achieve it, we can all be inspired by those who have. National Geographic: The Photographs contains many of the most iconic and famous images that appeared in the magazine prior to the book's 1994 publish date. If you are a fan of National Geographic, this book will bring back memory after memory from issues that you've long since donated to the library or packed away in your attic. One of the best coffee table photography books out there.

Basic Book of Photography by Tom Grimm

The Basic Book of Photography, (compare prices), by Tom Grimm and Michele Grimm. I am always looking for a "starter" book to give to friends who have become interested in photography. "The Basic Book of Photography" fills that need very well. Not too technical, but not too basic either. It will teach the beginner all about the photographic basics that are the foundation of any photographer's skillset. Exposure, f-stops, shutter speed, light, film, digital, and equipment selection & operation are all among the subjects covered. If a beginner photographer doesn't get started on their way with a book like this, it may be time for a new hobby (sayeth Josh).

Other Book Possibilities

Photo.net's Magazine Favorites

Professional Photographer, (compare prices). Each issue contains practical lessons for both the business and artistic sides of professional photography. Industry experts regularly cover the latest photographic and digital imaging equipment, provide imaging company updates, and offer business management tips. Profiles of noteworthy photographers also appear frequently, as well as information on upcoming industry special events. Professional Photographer is the official magazine of Professional Photographers of America.

Digital Photo Pro, (compare prices). Filled with in-depth gear reviews, articles on technique and the best inspiring images, Digital Photo Pro is the professional's guide to going digital.

B&W: Black & White Magazine, (compare prices). Black and white photography magazine. Includes developments in photography, an opening shot, information on the market scene, a visual section, the printed page section, special features, photographer spotlights, positive and negative section, exposure section, book reviews, and a closing shot.

Popular Photography & Imaging, (compare prices). Ready to take better pictures? Want to buy smart, when it comes to digital and film cameras, lenses, printers, and other essential gear? Popular Photography & Imaging is packed with great photos, how-to tips, lab tests of the latest equipment, and expert advice on getting the most out of every shot.

Lenswork, (compare prices). Lenswork is a book-quality, paper-based, anthology-style periodical publication which focuses on photography and the creative process. Non-technical and non-academic, with emphasis on the creative aspects of photography, each issue featuring articles, interviews, and photographic portfolios.

Other Magazine Possibilities

Best Holiday Gift Subscriptions

Photo.net 1yr Gift Subscription. Offer the best gift of the season: a year's subscription to the largest online community of professional and enthusiast photographers.

Safari Library. For a minimal monthly fee, you can offer your giftee access to a wall of books online. Now they can learn everything about photography and digital darkroom. The Safari Library gives them access to over 6000 books, video, pre-published manuscripts, full book downloads, and book discounts. For a lesser amount, you can gift them the Safari Bookshelf, which offers limited access to the entire collection of books, and your giftee can read full text of up to 10 books per month.

PPA Membership--Basic, or PPA Membership--Pro. PPA is the world's largest nonprofit association for professional photographers, with more than 20,000 members in 54 countries. This association seeks to increase its members' business savvy as well as broaden their creative scope, advancing careers by providing all the tools for success. PPA helps professional photographers run their business.

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If you have questions about the appropriate gear to buy, you can visit our forums and get answers to all your questions.

Text ©2008 Photo.net Editors.

Readers' Comments


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David Elliott , November 04, 2008; 02:21 P.M.

Thank you so much for including books and magazines in your gift guide! Very much appreciated.


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