So you want to step up your game in the world, and you want to do it right, by learning from all those who went before you! We have you covered! Check out our top book recommendations for photographers (and for everyone else).

Ok, so this isn’t exactly what you’re thinking. I’m sorry. I’m not planning on listing books from National Geographic photographers divulging all of their photographic genii. This is a list about how to kick yourself in the butt to get motivated and to get the most out of your life (and your photography). You can learn the techniques about photography from our training videos, these are some book recommendations for how to make your BUSINESS work by way of your life working. Here’s the thing, books are a treasure trove of information from all that came before us and FAILED big time. When we read about their mistakes, we can avoid them (unless you REALLY love getting your butt kicked).

My biggest recommendation is this. Don’t necessarily go out and buy 100 books, because not everyone is going to resonate with you and your journey. Look them up on YouTube. Check out what they have to say, and if they make you laugh. Find someone that calls to YOU, because we’re all different. I’ll also be sure to list some good podcasts (which are FREE)! Gotta love that!

A Few Tips…

  1. If you’re not a “reader” then sign up for Audible STAT. I’m not getting paid to say that. Look, I’m a mom of a three and five year old, so I don’t have time to lounge at the pool and read my favorite book. I do, however, have mounds of laundry, and spend two hours in the car for school drop-off/pick-up. So I listen. It’s changed my life. And I also take a lot more showers with my trusty waterproof speaker. #momlife
  2. If you do go with Audible, make sure the author narrates the book themselves. This makes a WORLD of difference, truly. When authors read their own work, you get the TRUE essence of their message.
  3. MAKE THE TIME. Devote at least 1-hour PER DAY of self-development. Are you going to miss a few days here and there? Hell yes. But it may just be the motivation you need to make BIG moves in your life and your business. It makes you think outside of the box, and it will perhaps give you the inspiration you’ve been needing for a while. Either way, if you find someone that you feel is talking to you, it will be a bright spot in your day to relax and listen.

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book was SO good that I bought the Audible version AND the print version so I could re-read and make notes. It covers the basics of cultivating creativity and not putting so much darn pressure on yourself! We so often get caught up in producing for EVERYONE ELSE that we literally lose ourselves. So do what you LOVE and throw it out to the world without making sure everyone loves it and approves. Sure, that’s nice, but it shouldn’t be necessary. Elizabeth is hysterically funny and you won’t regret the time you take to be inspired, I promise. You can check it out here.

book recommendations Cole's Classroom

High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard

This book recommendation is a game changer. High Performace Habits is just that…putting in place systems for long-term growth and success. Unfortunately, coming up with a really vague goal for your life is NOT going to get you there. You need HABITS. “I want to be healthy in 2019.” Well, that’s great, but a little ambiguous, don’t you think? What about sitting down and really DEFINING your goal, and then listing 10 things you have to do to get there. That is what Brendon teaches us how to do because it’s NOT something we’re born with (which is the good news…and bad news for those who make excuses). That means we can LEARN to work in ways that sustain growth and motivation. Get it. And re-read it. If you adopt just TWO of the habits he suggests, you’ll be much better off in life and in your business. Check him out on YouTube and see if his message clicks with your personality. He also has a new Podcast called “HPX (High Performace Experience).”

 Excuses Be Gone, by Wayne Dyer

Oh, Wayne Dyer. Wayne was/is FREAKING hysterical. And he calls us out on our BS excuses like no one else. He wrote/co-wrote over 30 self-development books, and they are ALL really, really good. Look, we ALLLLL make excuses. Some of us more than others, but we all do it. “I have kids,” and “I just don’t have time to…” The fact is, we need to identify those excuses and realize that we’re actually just afraid of doing something big. It’s ok, don’t feel guilty, just be aware and start noticing when these excuses are popping up in your life. Excuses Be Gone is both funny and enlightening.

A throwback to coke-bottle glasses and big hair!

Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul

I know, I know. You’re like HOW is this “soul” stuff going to help me in my photography journey? It’s really simple. When we become aware of the blocks and negative self-talk we’re experiencing, we can kick butt in the business department. Let’s face it, we all have insecurities. Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m just not smart enough to run a business,” or, “I won’t ever be able to support my family with my photography.” Why do most people turn to the negative? Because it’s easier to stay exactly where we are then to put our egos on the line and take a leap. So while this book doesn’t mention photography, it does make you just a tad more aware about what you’re telling yourself and how to reframe it. You CAN make this a “thing,” so now it’s time to get out of your own way! It’s a book that touches on spirituality but also offers a LOT of really useful practice for overcoming personal challenges. So if spirituality is not for you, feel free to move on to the next recommendation!

Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown

Oh, Brené Brown, I love her so much. She was originally a researcher and Ted Talker (with almost 10 MILLION views) who then became a best-selling author. She has extensively studied vulnerability and courage…and her books are the embodiment of both! One misconception is that courage is something we are born with. News flash, it’s NOT. It needs to be practiced and cultivated like any other business skill, which is amazing! It also means that we’ve run out of excuses for not taking a risk now and again. Check out her books or Ted Talks…you won’t be disappointed.

You can get Daring Greatly here, and Dare to Lead here.

Some Other Honorable Mentions from Cole’s Classroom Pro Members…

  • Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence, by Gary Vaynerchuck
  • Loving What Is, by Byron Katie
  • The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Bruchard
  • Atomic Habits, James Clear
  • You Are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
  • Women & Money, by Suze Orman

Podcast Recommendations for Photographer’s and Non-Photographers

If you’re not into full-blown audiobooks, Podcasts are FREE and a great way to get pumped in 30-60 minutes!

Jenna Kutcher, Gold Digger Podcast

Jenna Kutcher is a popular Instagram influencer/photographer/businesswoman/mom/podcaster/everything. She’s a hustler and shares all of her business secrets on her very popular podcast!


This podcast is ALLLLL about photography and business. It’s real, candid conversations about all things photo related!

Super Soul Conversations, Oprah Winfrey

While NOT photography related, Super Soul Conversations are all about deepening your awareness of the world, which is pretty darn helpful when it comes to realizing your own power and greatness!

Creativity School by Grace Chon

Want to tap into your creative genius, look no further! This is a great podcast to get the creative juices flowing!

What a lot of people don’t really get, is that they have a lot that’s holding them back from going big in their business (any type of business)! Sure, you can read about photography, but what this list is really about is getting out of your own way and experiencing the FREEDOM of going full speed towards your future! At Cole’s Classroom, we understand that it’s WAY more about the whole picture than JUST learning about your camera and taking beautiful pictures. We want YOU to experience your life in the fullest way possible. Clear, happy, successful and FULL of hope for your business and your future!

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