Imaginarium: The Process Behind the Pictures by Claire Rosen

With the holiday season in full swing, we put together this list of five photo books to help you get inspired in the New Year. Perfect as holiday gifts for photographers, or as a motivational tool for your own practice, each volume offers something unique–from creative exercises to historical deep-dives rich with insight.

The Photographer’s Playbook: 307 Assignments and Ideas by Jason Fulford, Gregory Halpern, and Mike Slack

This book is full of hundreds of unexpected prompts from some of the most groundbreaking artists of our day, including Stephen Shore, Susan Meiselas, Alec Soth, Roger Ballen, Tina Barney, and more. Our favorite assignments include classic exercises from historic art movements as well as quirky routines you’ll never find anywhere else.

Use This if You Want to Take Great Photographs: A Photo Journal by Henry Carroll

From Henry Carroll, the author behind the popular book series Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs, comes this practical guide to finding inspiration and producing meaningful work. You don’t need to read this one in chronological order, and we encourage you to insert your own photographs in the slots provided. Carroll’s prompts are out-of-the-box in the best possible way, and the assignments had us itching to get our hands on a camera.

Street Notes: A Workbook & Assignments Journal for Street Photographers by Eric Kim

This pocket-sized workbook contains fifteen tried-and-true assignments for tracking down that ever-elusive “decisive moment.” We appreciate that Kim has expanded the Street Notes community beyond the scope of a physical book, and we recommend connecting with other #streetnotes photographers for a more collaborative process, whether it’s online or through meetups. Once you’re done with this one, be sure to check out the second volume of the series, Street Hunt, which also includes photography scavenger hunts.

Magnum Contact Sheets by Kristen Lubben

You can’t understand an iconic image without context, and this book allows you to take a rare peek into the minds of Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bruce Gilden, Alessandra Sanguinetti, and many more legendary Magnum photographers through their contact sheets. Notebooks, magazine spreads, and press cards provided further details and clues about the motivation and process behind some of the greatest images ever made.

Imaginarium: The Process Behind the Pictures by Claire Rosen

With this book, you’ll tap into your playful side with the fun assignments, and at the same time, you’ll learn how to navigate difficult subjects like self-doubt and anxiety. With contributions from leading photographers and editors, Imaginarium covers all the bases, providing us with a firm foundation for creative thinking.