Rather than publish a “review” of a photo book, I’m going to give you some impressions of several books that I have been reading lately and that might interest you.

The first is called The Passionate Photographer: Ten Steps Toward Becoming Great (Voices That Matter). Steve Simon is a master photo-journalist. He’s not as much camera geek as he is storyteller. And that’s a good thing. Steve has seen it all and done it all and his new book is not about shutter speeds and f-stops. Instead, he inspires us by talking about the things that really matter. If you’re tired of just producing good images and want to make inspiring images, grab this book.

Next up on the list is my pal Kevin Kubota’s new book – Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook: 101 Lighting Styles and Setups for Digital Photographers. Kevin is popularly-known as the guy behind Kubota Image Tools, but he’s also a superb image-maker. In this book, he shows – in a very detailed, step-by-step way, how he uses lighting to make stellar images. The book is very practical. If you are looking for a lighting workshop in a book, this is it. Kevin’s photo style is fresh, young and edgy and that will appeal to younger photographers looking for a less traditional lighting book. This is my new pick for people who want to learn lighting.

David DuChemin does it again with Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images (Voices That Matter). I love David’s tagline – “Gear is good. Vision is better.” This former comic turned professional photographer is a very deep, thoughtful man who’s photographic writing always captivates me. Like Steve Simon, he’s writing about things that are far more ethereal than camera settings. David talks about how his approach and his philosophy contributed to some of his favorite images. He shows you how to feel a photograph and speaks from a position of true passion. Highly recommended.

My final book choice is Visual Stories: Behind the Lens with Vincent Laforet (Voices That Matter). It is a masterwork by my pal and Pulitzer-Prize winner Vincent Laforet. He was kind enough to write the foreword (and contribute images) for my new book, Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer and even kinder to send me an advance copy of his. All I can say about Vince is that he’s one of the finest photographers of our generation. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that decades from now, long after we have all passed, people will refer back to Vincent’s work the way that we now talk about greats like Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Man Ray, Paul Strand and Ansel Adams. Vincent chronicles how he made some of his iconic photographs and shares his thoughts on telling a story with your camera. If the concept of storytelling with photography has escaped you, buy this book – problem solved.

I wish I had more time to read some of the great photo books out there. This list isn’t anywhere near complete, but these four books will get you started and would also make great gifts this up-coming holiday season for your favorite photographer.