Art & Photography, Best Books, Education, History, Nonfiction

The Best History Of Photography Books

“What are the best books about the history of photography?” We looked at 12 different photography history books and came away with 139 different titles.

An article of words about books about pictures that are stationary shots of events in time. To be honest we aren’t really going anywhere with this, the list and the books on it speak for themselves, but going straight into a list can sometimes look awkward so that is why there is text here. If you enjoy early photography, collections of old photographs, the history of the craft, and anything else that has to do with the art and history of photography, you can find it in one of the books listed below.

Below you can find the top 12 photography history books with images and links, with the remaining 127 titles and the sources at the bottom of the page.


Happy Scrolling!

The Best Books About the History of Photography

12.) A Short Course in Photography by Barbara London and Jim Stone

Lists It Appears On:

    • Hongkiat
    • Moorpark College Photography

This brief title demonstrates greater emphasis on the most up-to-date learning techniques, allowing students to keep up with modern technology. A Short Course in Photography: Digital teaches readers to emphasize their choices in picture making by presenting in depth basic techniques of photography. In additional to covering the basic techniques of photography, this title covers the impact of computers on this important art form.

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11.) Best Business Practices for Photographers by John Harrington

Lists It Appears On:

    • Hongkiat
    • Popular Photography

A follow-up to the successful and acclaimed “Best Business Practices for Photographers”, this updated and expanded edition serves as an even more comprehensive guide to achieving financial success and personal satisfaction in your business as a photographer. Included in this new edition are sections on licensing your work, making the career change from a staff photographer to a freelancer, surviving an IRS audit, and more. This book includes best practices in interacting with clients, negotiating contracts and licenses, and business operations. “Best Business Practices for Photographers, Second Edition” is the key to a successful career in photography.

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10.) History of Photography by Peter Turner

Lists It Appears On:

    • Art-Support
    • Open Learn

“History of Photography” traces the development of the camera from the daguerreotype to the computer-analyses image, from Mathew Brady, Timothy O’Sullivan and Julia Margaret Cameron to Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams and David Bailey. Illustrated with over 300 duotones and color photographs, this book will delight everyone who owns a camera.

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9.) Man Ray by Man Ray

Lists It Appears On:

    • Gear Patrol
    • Popular Photography

This text explores the photographic career of Man Ray whose fertile artistic impulse has made him equally celebrated as a painter, sculptor, writer and film-maker. Taking up photography in 1915 for the purpose of reproducing his paintings, he earned money doing the same for others when he went to live and work in Paris in 1921. This led to a career in photography ranging from portraits of celebrated artists, musicians and writers such as Andre breton, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie, Arnold Schoenberg, T.S. Elliot and Gertrude Stein, to the pictures using light effects outside the camera for which he is famous: cliche-verres, rayographs and solarizations. Alongside many of Man-Ray’s classic images, this collection presents a huge number of less familiar photographs, including portraits of Virginia Woolf and of Antonin Artaud and a large selection of erotic pictures. Most of these are from the collection of Lucien Treillard, a personal friend who worked with the artist over many years cataloguing and archiving his photographs.

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8.) Photography: An Illustrated History by Martin W. Sandler

Lists It Appears On:

    • Art-Support
    • Questia

Presents the history of photography from the daguerreotypes of the mid-1800s to its acceptance as an art form and more.

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7.) The Origins of Photography by Helmut Gernsheim

The History of Photography by Helmut and Alison Gernsheim
Lists It Appears On:

    • Art-Support
    • Open Learn

Gernsheim’s The Origins of Photography (also titled The History of Photography) is a standard work on photography’s history, made richer by Hugo Gernsheim’s long history as the world’s premier collector/archivist.

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6.) The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski

Lists It Appears On:

    • Hongkiat
    • Photonlab

The Photographer’s Eye by John Szarkowski is a twentieth-century classic–an indispensable introduction to the visual language of photography. Based on a landmark exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1964, and originally published in 1966, the book has long been out of print. It is now available again to a new generation of photographers and lovers of photography in this duotone printing that closely follows the original.

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5.) The Photography Book by Phaidon Press

Lists It Appears On:

    • Hongkiat
    • Photonlab

This edition of The Photography Book, containing every sort of photography, from pictures of famous events such as the Royal Wedding and the first landing on the moon, to familiar shots by the masters of photography such as Bill Brandt and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

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  1. (Tie) A World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum

Lists It Appears On:

    • Art-Support
    • Moorpark College Photography
    • Photonlab

Naomi Rosenblum’s classic text investigates all aspects of photography — aesthetic, documentary, commercial, and technical — while placing photos in their historical context. Included among the more than 800 photographs by men and women are both little-known and celebrated masterpieces, arranged in stimulating juxtapositions that illuminate their visual power. Authoritative and unbiased, Rosenblum’s chronicle of photography both chronologically and thematically traces the evolution of this still-young art form. Exploring the diverse roles that photography has played in the communication of ideas, Rosenblum devotes special attention to topics such as portraiture, documentation, advertising, and photojournalism, and to the camera as a means of personal artistic expression. The revised fourth edition includes updates on technical advances as well as a new chapter on contemporary photographers. Armed with the expressive vigor of its images, this thorough and accessible volume will appeal to all.

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  1. (Tie) Magnum Contact Sheets by Kristen Lubben

Lists It Appears On:

    • Gear Patrol
    • Reframe
    • Tim Ashley Photography

Available for the first time in a compact edition, this groundbreaking book presents a remarkable selection of contact sheets and ancillary material, revealing for the first time how the most celebrated Magnum photographers capture and edit the very best shots. Addressing key questions of photographic practice, the book illuminates the creative methods, strategies, and editing processes behind some of the world’s most iconic images.

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  1. (Tie) On Photography by Susan Sontag

Lists It Appears On:

    • Moorpark College Photography
    • Popular Photography
    • Tim Ashley Photography

One of the most highly regarded books of its kind, On Photography first appeared in 1977 and is described by its author as “a progress of essays about the meaning and career of photographs.” It begins with the famous “In Plato’s Cave”essay, then offers five other prose meditations on this topic, and concludes with a fascinating and far-reaching “Brief Anthology of Quotations.”

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  1. (Tie) The History of Photography by Beaumont Newhall

Lists It Appears On:

    • Open Learn
    • Photonlab
    • Popular Photography

Since its first publication in 1937, this lucid and scholarly chronicle of the history of photography has been hailed as the classic work on the subject. No other book and no other author have managed to relate the aesthetic evolution of the art of photography to its technical innovations with such an absorbing combination of clarity, scholarship and enthusiasm. Through more than 300 works by such master photographers as William Henry Fox Talbot, Timothy O’Sullivan, Julia Margaret Cameron, Eugène Atget, Peter Henry Emerson, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Man Ray, Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Ansel Adams, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Harry Callahan, Minor White, Robert Frank and Diane Arbus, author Beaumont Newhall presents a fascinating, comprehensive study of the significant trends and developments in the medium since the first photographs were made in 1839.

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(Appear on 1 list each)


100 Ideas that Changed PhotographyMary Warner MarienAll About Photo
100 Photographs That Changed The WorldPopular Photography
125 PhotographsEdward WestonGear Patrol
A History of Photography: From 1839 to the …TASCHENPhotonlab
A Life in Photography: 1968-2008Joyce TennesonPopular Photography
A New History of PhotographyArt-Support
All About EveEve ArnoldGear Patrol
An American Century of PhotographyArt-Support
An Ounce of Preservation : A Guide to the Care of Papers and PhotographsArt-Support
Andreas GurskyAndreas GurskyGear Patrol
Ansel Adams at 100Ansel AdamsPopular Photography
Arizona Real Photo Postcards A History & PortfolioJeremy RoweBored Feet
Art after Modernism: Rethinking RepresentationBrian WallisQuestia
Art and PhotographyDavid CampanyTim Ashley Photography
Art History and Its Institutions: Foundations of a DisciplineElizabeth MansfieldQuestia
Avedon FashionRichard AvedonGear Patrol
Basic 35mm Photo Guide: For Beginning PhotographersCraig AlesseHongkiat
Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of PhotographyErrol MorrisMoorpark College Photography
Between Amateur and Aesthete: The Legitimization of Photography as Art in America, 1880-1900Paul Spencer SternbergerQuestia
Bill Brandt: Shadow and LightBill BrandtGear Patrol
Brassai, ParisBrassaiGear Patrol
Camera LucidaRoland BarthesMoorpark College Photography
Capa in ColorRobert CapaGear Patrol
Caring for Your Family Treasures: Heritage PreservationArt-Support
ChromesWilliam EgglestonGear Patrol
Classic Essays on PhotographyPhotonlab
Collector’s Guide to Early PhotographsArt-Support
Color Management in Digital PhotographyBrad HinkelHongkiat
Complete Digital PhotographyBen LongHongkiat
Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips and TechniquesHarold DavisHongkiat
Criticizing PhotographsTerry BarrettMoorpark College Photography
Dassonville California Photographer (1879-1957)Peter Palmquist; Researched and edited by Susan Herzig and Paul HertzmannBored Feet
David Busch’s Mastering Digital SLR PhotographyDavid D. BuschHongkiat
Diane Arbus: An Aperture MonographDiane ArbusGear Patrol
Digital Photography in Easy StepsNick VandomeHongkiat
Digital Photography Visual Quick TipsGregory GeorgesHongkiat
DriveAndrew BushGear Patrol
Edge of the Earth, Corner of the SkyPopular Photography
Extraordinary Everyday PhotographyBrenda Tharp and Jed ManwaringHongkiat
Family Photographs: Content, Meaning and EffectJulia HirshOpen Learn
Fashion Spreads: Word and Image in Fashion Photography since 1980Paul JoblingQuestia
Galen Rowell: A RetrospectiveGalen RowellPopular Photography
Georgia O’Keeffe A PortraitAlfred StieglitzGear Patrol
Great Spirit North American Indian PortraitsEdward McAndrewsBored Feet
Halsman: A RetrospectivePhilippe HalsmanGear Patrol
Handbook of American Popular CultureM. Thomas IngeQuestia
Heaven to HellDavid LaChappelleGear Patrol
How to Photograph Absolutely EverythingTom AngHongkiat
Images of the Seventh DayMichael KennaGear Patrol
In Focus: National Geographics Greatest PortraitsHongkiat
InfraRichard MosseGear Patrol
Inside Amateur PhotographyDave KenyonOpen Learn
Invisible CityKen SchlesGear Patrol
Irving Penn: Platinum PrintsPopular Photography
Larry Burrows: VietnamLarry BurrowsGear Patrol
Let Us Now Praise Famous MenWalker EvansGear Patrol
LIFE 100 Photographs that Changed the WorldHongkiat
Light Science & MagicFil HUnter, Steven Biver and Paul FuquaMoorpark College Photography
Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from t…John SzarkowskiPhotonlab
Lyle Rexer: The Edge of Vision: The Rise of…Lyle RexerPhotonlab
Mapplethorpe Robert MapplethorpeRobert MapplethorpePopular Photography
McDermott & McGough : A History of PhotographyArt-Support
Mexican Suite : A History of Photography in MexicoArt-Support
Modernism RediscoveredJulius SchulmanGear Patrol
Night Photography: Finding Your Way in the DarkLance KeimigHongkiat
OkavangoFrans LantingGear Patrol
On the Margins of Art WorldsLarry GrossQuestia
Paolo Roversi: StudioPaolo RoversiPopular Photography
Paul Strand in MexicoPaul StrandGear Patrol
Photo WisdomLewis BlackwellTim Ashley Photography
Photographers in Arizona 1850-1920 A History and DirectoryJeremy RoweBored Feet
Photographic Portraiture and the Forgetting of ColourSmith, LindsayQuestia
Photographs 1970-1990Annie LeibovitzPopular Photography
PhotographyBarbara London, Jim Stone and John UptonMoorpark College Photography
Photography – A Concise HistoryIan JeffreyOpen Learn
Photography (7th Edition)Art-Support
Photography Changes EverythingMarvin HeifermanMoorpark College Photography
Photography in PrintVicki GoldbergReframe
Photospeak: A Guide to the Ideas, Movements, and Techniques of Photography, 1839 to the PresentArt-Support
Revisions: An Alternative History of PhotographyArt-Support
Richard Avedon Photographs 1946-2004Richard AvedonPopular Photography
Say Cheese: The Snapshot as Art and Social HistoryGraham KingOpen Learn
Seizing the Light: A History of PhotographyArt-Support
Shooting in Sh*tty LightLindsay Adler and Erik ValindHongkiat
Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of CombatSusan D. MoellerQuestia
Small TradesIrving PennGear Patrol
SumoHelmut NewtonPopular Photography
SurveyBruce DavidsonAll About Photo
The AmericansRobert FrankGear Patrol
The Best of LeiferNeil LeiferGear Patrol
The BikeridersDanny LyonGear Patrol
The Birth of Photography … 1800-1900Brian CoeOpen Learn
The CameraAnsel AdamsPopular Photography
The Camera as ConscienceEugene SmithPopular Photography
The Contest of MeaningRichard BoltonMoorpark College Photography
The Decisive MomentHenri Cartier-BressonGear Patrol
The Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3Scott KelbyHongkiat
The Early YearsAndre KerteszGear Patrol
The Genius of PhotographyGerry BadgerTim Ashley Photography
The History of Japanese PhotographyArt-Support
The Iconic PhotographsSteve McCurryGear Patrol
The Image Factory: Consumer Culture, Photography and the Visual Content IndustryPaul FroshQuestia
The Lovely Sea View A Study of the Marine Photographs Published by Gustave Le Gray, 1856-1858Ken JacobsonBored Feet
The Man, The Image & The World: A RetrospectiveHenri Cartier-BressonPopular Photography
The Moment In ClicksJoe McNallyPopular Photography
The Nature of PhotographsArt-Support
The NegativeAnsel AdamsPopular Photography
The Photobook: A HistoryMartin ParrReframe
The Photograph as Contemporary ArtCharlotte CottonMoorpark College Photography
The Photographic EssayWilliam Albert AllardPopular Photography
The Photography HandbookTerence WrightQuestia
The Picture History of PhotographyPeter PollockOpen Learn
The PrintAnsel AdamsPopular Photography
The Printed PictureReframe
The Remarkable Carlo Gentile Pioneer Italian PhotographerCesare MarinoBored Feet
The Routledge Companion to AestheticsBerys Gaut; Dominic McIver LopesQuestia
The Savage View Charles Savage, Pioneer Mormon PhotographerBradley W. Richards, M.D.Bored Feet
The Story of Popular PhotographyColin FordOpen Learn
This is WarRobert CapaPopular Photography
To Light Such a Candle: Chapters in the History of Science and TechnologyKeith J. LaidlerQuestia
Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital PhotographyHongkiat
Understanding ExposureBryan PetersonHongkiat
Walker Evans: The Magazine WorkDavid CampanyReframe
Ward 81Mary Ellen MarkPopular Photography
Ways of SeeingJohn BergerMoorpark College Photography
WorkersSebastiao SalgadoPopular Photography
Young Meteors: British Photojournalism 1957-1965Martin HarrisonOpen Learn


The Best Photography History Book Sources

All About Photo Great Books on Photography History
Art-Support The History Photography
Bored Feet Photography history books
Gear Patrol 30 Awe-Inspiring Photography Books
Hongkiat 20 Books To Understanding Photography You Can Buy
Moorpark College Photography Suggested Books
Open Learn History of photography
Photonlab Recommended books on the History of Photography
Popular Photography 26 Books Every Photographer Should Own
Questia History of Photography
Reframe 5 Books For Expanding Your Photography Knowledge
Tim Ashley Photography Some Useful Books for Fine Art Photographers