(1). Photography The Whole Story (Hacking and Campany).
Photography The Whole Story - Juliet Hacking and David Campany - Thames & Hudson ISBN 978-500-29045--3
This book comes highly recommended because of the way that the information is laid out and concise nature of the each of the photographers and themes covered
Each of the themes or photographers are dealt with in a similar way, with a basic outline relating the photographers work/subjects/themes etc. Many of the pages include (as below in the Horst P Horst section) the "Focal Point" notes which are useful for students in that you get some sense of what could and should be analysed and considered within an image.
Genres are covered as one of the theme elements within the book, and these come with a time-line at the bottom of the page contextualising the photography with the coinciding historical events.
Overall the book is great for basic information and giving you a feel of why the photography is seen as influential, innovative and important, all of the things that you need to be discussing within your projects in conjunction with your research.
If reading books isn't your thing and you just need to find the photographer that shoots a specific theme/subject - use my list here to find the photographer you need by searching by theme/subject.
(2). Photography Portfolio - (John Ingledew)
For the more practical elements of the course, how to do stuff and what to use and why and how it works, you should use this book - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Photography-Portfolio-John-Ingledew/dp/1856694321#customerReviews check out the reviews. To be honest it's not one that I own myself, at the moment I would recommend this one here, but I've ordered Ingledews 'Portfolio' a moment ago and once I've got it I'll update the blog, but it is highly recommended by my colleagues and the people that review it on amazon.
(3). The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Charlotte Cotton)
This book is a must for names, genres, ideas and concepts. The book is broken up into several sections which can be read in isolation. Each section deals with a type of genre and discusses the work in very concise terms giving you the basics leaving room for further and deeper research if required. The magic of this books is that it connects photographers, detailing who inspired who and leading you to new avenues and approaches. Concepts and ideas in photography as an under-pinning factor in the way that you approach your photography are fairly unique to FE and HE education, so this book gives you a really useful insight to this way of working with your photography.
(4). Langfords Basic Photography (Michael Langford).
As it says on the cover "The Guide for serious photographers". This book focuses on the actual doing, materials, techniques, processes and equipment aspects of photography. Back in the day if you were doing a level 3 course this was your bible and at the end of the 2 years you'd have absorbed most of what was in this book. For students looking to attain high grades - Merits, Distinctions, B's and A's, this is the book that will fill in for your lecturers inadequacies!