Books the Working Photojournalist Should Own

A brief, and expanding, collection of non-photo photo books. These are about people, about the craft and about vision.


Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon – This is the book that made me want to be a journalist. He was a college professor losing his job and his wife, so he headed out in an Ford Econoline plumber’s truck to find America and himself. It helps that he was trained as a photojournalist, but this is about connecting with people.

Slightly Out of Focus, Robert Capa – An autobiography from the man who said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Perhaps the greatest war photographer of his time.

Requiem, Horst Faas – A look at the work of the photojournalists killed during the Vietnam war. Only available used now, well worth the price.

The Picture: The Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism, Brian Horton – Out of print, but still a very usable introduction into the types of images the AP and newspapers are looking for.

Unreasonable Behavior, Don McCullin – The autobiography of another legendary war photographer.

The Great Picture Hunt 2, Dave LaBelle – This is a second edition of a classic. LaBelle is a master at shooting – and teaching how to shoot – feature photos. He approaches his assignments like a hunter, methodically, and comes back with great images again and again.

Portrait of Myself, Margaret Bourke-White – Another autobiography, this of a legendary woman at a time when men dominated the field. Bourke-White was one of the original Life Magazine shooters. Also worth looking at is “The Early Work, 1922-1930,” a book of her early, non-journalism work where you can see her style develop.

Get the Picture, John Morris – Morris is the photo editor who ran Eddie Adams’ streetside execution photo, BIG, in the New York Times. He’s worked for the major publications, and has the stories to prove it.

Visual Impact in Print, Hurley & McDougall – This is one of the original books to talk about designing around photos.

The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm, Tom Kelley – IDEO is an amazing company. If you’re in any sort of creative environment, it would help you immensely to think about the way they handle the process of inventing.

More to come …

Mark E. Johnson

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