What Books Make a Great Gift for a Photographer?

Photo of a bookshelf full of books
Photo by Tatiana from Pexels.

What books have impacted your photography?  Did Ansel Adams change how you photographed nature?  Did Galen Rowell make you see differently?  Did George Lepp or John Shaw make the complex easy to understand?  If you were giving a fellow photographer a book this holiday season, what would it be?

The New York Times Book Review recently printed an article on the best photography books of 2019.  It didn’t feature any nature photography, but it still got me thinking about what books really impacted my photography and the way I experience both nature and the art of nature photography.  What book changed how you photograph and experience nature?

Maybe it’s not even a photography book.  Did the writing of John Muir, Bill Bryson or Henry David Thoreau change the way you experience nature?  Did an exhibit of Monet’s or Van Gogh’s paintings affect how you see the world?  Maybe it’s a video or a Ted Talk.

Dewitt Jones really helped me become fully present and “in the moment” when I’m out in the natural world.  My senses become keener.  I see, hear and feel more acutely than in day-to-day life.  In turn, that impacts what I notice, what I decide to photograph and how I shoot it, as well as the mood I wish to convey.  You might have seen his columns in Outdoor Photographer magazine.  Those were my first exposure to him and I enjoyed his writing.  Then I saw him as a keynote speaker at a conference I was attending and gained a whole new appreciation for his approach to photography. Check out his Ted Talk.

So what’s your ideal gift, to give a photographer or receive as a photographer?  (Of course, a NANPA membership always makes a fabulous gift!) Tell us about it.  Send us a short review explaining what the book/video/whatever is about and what resonated with you.  Email your recommendation to publications@nanpa.org.  We’ll publish recommendations in a future blog.

Take It All In And Give It All Back by Dewitt Jones

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by Dewitt Jones

I took the podium and looked out over the room: seven hundred men and women, some of the finest nature photographers in the world. This was the North American Nature Photographer’s Association’s (NANPA) Second Annual Forum and it was my job to bring it to a close.

That morning, I had holed up in my hotel room trying to come up with what I would say. My mind wandered back over my own career as a photographer — not so much the photographs but rather the experiences and the lessons I had learned.

I thought about the natural cycles I had so often witnessed while photographing – the seasons, the tides, the rising and setting of the sun. How many thousands of times I had I watched them? Like watching the smooth muscle of the planet — the things our little orb can’t help but do. Like watching the earth breathe.  

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