The Photographer’s Bookshelf – What I’m Reading

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Keep on Learning

As a photographer and photography/Photoshop instructor, I know from experience that while there’s no substitute for spending quality time with your gear, actually shooting and becoming familiar with it to the point where it is simply an extension of your creative vision. That said, one of the best ways to hone your art, to be inspired, and to expand your knowledge is to read and bask in the works of other photographers and educators.  Over the coming weeks, I’d like to share some of my favorite photography books: some that have have changed the way I think about photography and lighting, some that have been invaluable for their technical or business aspects, and some that have given me new insight into why I do this thing I love.  I’d encourage you to drop by your local library or bookseller to check them out for yourself.

Joe McNally’s, “The Moment It Clicks”

The Moment it Clicks-Cover-JCHP

I’m a huge fan of most everything Joe McNally does. In his 35+ year career, he’s shot for Sports Illustrated, Life, and Time magazine, among many others, and in fact, set a new benchmark for National Geographic  when he photographed all of the images for “The Future of Flying” for the December 2003 cover story on  “old” Nikon D1x and D100 digital SLRs (5 and 6 megapixel resolution, respectively) – a first for the magazine. He’s got a terrific educational style, a quirky sense of humor, and is just a hoot to read. I’ve read most everything he’s written, and watched most of his videos.  In fact, right now, his “Language of Light” DVD series is taking up most of the room on my iPad.  I’d love to attend one of his seminars in the coming year.

“The Moment It Clicks” was his first major publishing effort, and remains one of my all-time favorites.  The book is filled with amazing  images from his long and varied career– insights into making images that truly connect with the viewer.  Sure, there are tech tips, exposure info, lighting info, etc., but it’s mainly about the thought process and tips on interaction with your subjects, working with locations, when stuff goes wrong, and the like.

McNally’s own words best describe the intent of this book,

“It’s not about a particular place, people, time or cause.  I’t s not about one type of picture or another… It’s about being a photographer.  It’s about your eye in the camera as the light hits just right. It’s about the slight turn of your subject’s face that speaks the truth. It’s about holding your breath as you shoot. It’s about the nerves, the joy, and the terror of wondering if you got it.  And then dancing about, punching holes in the air when you know you did.  It’s about…the moment it clicks.”

I’ve had a few moments like that in my career.  And I can attest to the deep satisfaction that comes with experiencing “the moment it clicks.”

I love this book, and return to it often for inspiration.  And every time, I learn something new. Check it out here on, or stop by your local library or bookseller to see if they have a copy, and prepare to be amazed.

So what’s on YOUR bookshelf?  Hit me up in the comments below, and let me know YOUR favorite photography or Photoshop books.

The Moment It Clicks-JCHP



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1 thought on “The Photographer’s Bookshelf – What I’m Reading

  • Thank you Jon, I really enjoyed that and love to get a recommendation on a book from a photographer that I respect. I will be picking up a copy. I received six photo books for Christmas (gifts that I picked out), I can’t get enough of them. I am constantly studying. I love Scott Kelby’s books. I see you have his Digital Photography books, well, three out of four of them :).

    Currently I am really into “Photoshop Compositing Secrets” by Matt Kloskowski. Favorites are “Stunning Digital Photography” by Tony Northrup, “Shooting in Shitty Light” by Lindsay Adler. Scott Kelby’s “Photoshop CS6 for Digital Photographers” and “Classic Photoshop Effects” are always within an arms reach.

    I am looking forward your next review and recommendation Jon. Thank you very much for taking the time! I love your work.

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