Leah O'Connell

brands, for photographers, personal

Favorite books for creatives and small business owners

I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

Education and articles for family photographers

TOp categories

FAQ's and guidance for stress-free family and newborn sessions 

Essays, letters, favorites

Highlighted family and newborn photography sessions

favorites books for photographers

Books are one of the most accessible ways to expand your perspective and grow as a business owner. The books in this list are some of my all-time favorite books for creatives, photographers, and just small business owners in general to up-level your mindset and skills.

If you do a search of the most successful entrepreneurs across industries, the common thread is that they all recommend reflection and reading. Warren Buffett, one of the most wealthy investors and CEO’s ever, said he reads 500 pages a day

that’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.”

I have 2 small children, a growing business, and a dog who barks at leaves blowing… I’m not Warren Buffett.

But I do make an effort to read regularly. I go through seasons where I’ll read more than others, and seasons when a Friends marathon on the couch with a bowl of cereal is all I can handle.

As this article in Leaderomics points out — “ 85% of successful people read two or more self-improvement or educational books per month…to prioritize reading is a habit that offers a huge return on investment that hours spent on TV and social media just can’t match.”

My Book Backstory

When I first started my photography business I knew barely anything about photography or business. There was a little book store about 2 blocks from our 700 sq ft apartment in Hawaii and I’d walk there all the time, browsing for business books to sink my teeth into and the scouring my camera manual at night (read about how how that bookstore influenced my photography perspective here). 

These days, I still read every book with a pencil in hand.

And back in the day, I majored in English because I fully believed that my calling as a leader was to lead 9th graders through Homer’s The Odyssey.

Life journey curveballs aside, I’ve discovered time and time again that even the tiniest nugget of wisdom from someone else’s perspective in a book can plant a seed. And with every seed, your perspective, and world view, shifts.

Not everything counts though – I mean, true, Guess How Much I Love You does have some deep stuff, but reading for self-improvement and growth is the gold mine here. It doesn’t have to be boring. My favorite categories are books on business and leadership, biographies and origin stories, and books on mindset. 

All of them directly influence how I operate and create. Biographies help shape my vision for the future and what’s possible. 


Book Recommendations for Creatives and Small Business Owners

These books are great for budding photographers, but also for business owners looking to uplevel in any industry.

*all links to Amazon, but please take the extra step and order from your local small bookstore! Here in Charlottesville, the people at New Dominion Bookshop are great!

Favorite Books on small business

Leaders Eat Last




Big Magic

Biographies and origin stories

The Magnolia Story


Start something that matters

Books on mindset

Mindset : The New Psychology on Success

The Tipping Point

Simply Tuesday

Atomic Habits

You are a badass

The Soul of Money


list of books on creativity, motherhood, business

These books have shaped my career and are some of my absolute favorite books for creatives, not just photographers! Happy reading!

You might also like:

My 2022 Book List

My 2023 Book List

5 Essential tools for running my photography business

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.