Winter Reading List 2015

For the fourth installment of Don’t Take Pictures' recommended reading, I have compiled a Winter reading list for all of you arts readers looking for something to read by the fire or to add to your holiday wish list. I have chosen to limit this list to printed books and not include online content or periodicals. I have read each book on this list (often more than once), and selected titles that I have found helpful in my own art and business practices. This list is not intended to be a review of each book, nor is it focused on new releases, as there are so many great books that remain relevant today.

As We Were: American Photographic Postcards, 1905-1930
Rosamond B. Value
Publisher: David R. Godine, 2004
Pages: 215

Beautifully illustrated, this book uses early American postcards as a vehicle for broader discussions about the history of photography, the mass production of imagery, and photography’s role in society at the turn of the century. While image-heavy, it is by no means lacking in substance.

Purchase from The Griffin Museum of Photography


Art & Soul: Notes on Creating
Audrey Flack
Publisher: Penguin Books, 1991
Pages: 160

Renowned painter Audrey Flack offers small pearls of wisdom on creating art, the art world, teaching, and stories from her past. Although not a photographer, Flack’s observations, personal anecdotes, and advice related to art-making are transcend the medium.

Purchase from Barnes and Noble


Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
Roland Barthes
Publisher: Macmillan, 1981
Pages: 119

Considered one of the most influential books on photography, Barthes explores the power of the medium through his personal experiences engaging with photographs. Many of the books on this list reference these essays, and this book is a must-read for anyone interested in photography’s relationship with reality. This particular edition is translated by Richard Howard from the original French.

Purchase from Macmillan


At the Edge of Light: Thoughts on Photography and Photographers, on Talent and Genius
David Travis
Publisher: David R. Godine, 2003
Pages: 224

This collection of essays discuss the lives of notable photographers including Brassaï, Kertéz, Weston, Steiglitz, and Strand, as well as other essays on photography’s relationship with nature and with mathematics. Those who are interested in learning more about some of photography’s legends will enjoy the stories, which are often anecdotal while simultaneously informative and insightful to the impact that their work had on the medium.

Purchase from Abe Books


The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles
Steven Pressfield
Publisher: Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2012
Pages: 190

Written from the perspective of a successful novelist who sometimes struggles to stay motivated, this is a fast and excellent read for all creative people. The book addresses the role of Resistance in art-making in three parts: Resistance – Defining the Enemy, Combating Resistance – Turning Pro, and Beyond Resistance – Higher Realm. Though the book occasionally takes on a distracting spiritual tone, at its core it provides a new way of thinking about procrastination and how to overcome it.

Purchase from Black Irish Books


Pleasures Taken: Performances of Sexuality and Loss in Victorian Photographs
Carol Mavor
Publisher: Duke University Press, 1995
Pages: 208

This book takes an academic approach to the discussion of sexuality in Victorian-era photographs. With chapters dedicated to photographers Lewis Carroll, Julia Margret Cameron, and Hannah Cullwick, the book closely examines some of the more well known, yet largely misrepresented photographers of the Victorian era.

Purchase from Duke University Press


For more recommended reading, see reading lists from Summer 2015, and 2014’s Winter and Summer.

Kat Kiernan is the Editor-in-Chief of Don’t Take Pictures.