Every photographer needs to start somewhere. Often it is by experimentation. Other times, learning comes from reading, reading, and more reading. Certainly, blogs are helpful, but ultimately, a photographer with much desire often finds himself/herself in bed at night, reading a good book on photography technique or aperture and shutter speed.
What you end up learning can be quite valuable, and I’ve provided a list of books of recommended photography books to improve upon your skills in a variety of areas.
- Understanding Exposure (aff) by Bryan Peterson: This book is key and the ultimate beginner’s book to SLR photography. Peterson uses this extremely well illustrated book to explore how to achieve proper exposures, particularly in the areas of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
- Nature Photography Field Guide by John Shaw: A good beginner’s guide to photographic principles especially how it relates to nature photography.
- The Negative by Ansel Adams: While this book does not touch upon much digital photography, it does explain a lot of important aspects of good exposure.
- Photography by Barbara London and John Upton: Many photography classes use this textbook as it provides a solid photographic technical background.
- The Basic Book of Photography by Tom and Michelle Grimm: This book is an excellent beginner’s guide, though it also does not have much coverage on digital photography.
- Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long: This is another more recent textbook used in photography classes. It covers just about everything, from capturing to storing to printing photographs.
- John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography by John Hedgecoe: This book consists of easy-to-digest techniques in short chapters.
Beyond the Basics
- Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson: Gives some wonderful exercises on how to develop a photographic vision.
- The A-Z of Creative Digital Photography by Lee Frost: From every letter of the alphabet, there’s a unique creative way to manipulate your pictures. I personally own the earlier The A-Z of Creative Photography book and have found it particularly helpful. I’m excited to see what additions are integrated into the digital edition.
- The Photographer’s Guide to Filters also by Lee Frost, discusses the variety of filters you may want to use with your SLR lenses and why they would be particularly beneficial.
- Beyond Portraiture: Creative People Photography by Bryan Peterson: Capturing people’s everyday emotions and actions is an exciting element of photography and can produce some pretty amazing results.
- Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape by Galen A. Rowell: For those photographers interested in landscape, particularly mountain, photography, Rowell takes the reader on an excursion to a variety of different places at higher altitudes and tells you how he created the photo.
- Spirit of Place: The Art of the Travelling Photographer by Bob Krist: A book for photographers on photography while traveling who are recommended to often engage with the surroundings rather than just sightsee.
- The Art of Outdoor Photography by Boyd Norton: This book for outdoor photography is tailored to the amateur to the professional, though it falls somewhere in between. The book discusses more technical aspects as well.
- Closeups in Nature by John Shaw: If you prefer macro (closeup) photography, this book by John Shaw is a great read. Note that the last print copy was from 1987 so the technique is not necessarily up-to-date.
Post-Processing Images (Adobe Photoshop CS2, Photoshop Elements 5, and Nikon Capture NX)
- The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby: Scott Kelby is easily one of the industry’s most highly regarded experts in his field. Furthermore, Kelby co-hosts PhotoshopTV, a podcast which runs just every Monday, offering tips and tricks for digital photos.
- Real World Adobe Photoshop CS2 by Bruce Fraser and David Blatner: This book is considered to be an excellent authority on CS2 along with Kelby’s book.
- Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2 by Bruce Fraser: Explores the benefits of RAW photographs and how to manipulate them in Photoshop CS2.
- Photoshop CS2 Workflow by Tim Grey: Describes a recommended workflow for editing images from the start — what you should do and when.
- Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Photographers by Martin Evening: An excellent book on Photoshop that is meant to be for experienced photographers who are familiar with photographic techniques.
- How to Wow: Photoshop for Photography by Jack Davis and Ben Willmore: Like other Photoshop for photography books, this book touches upon camera setup and then teaches Photoshop techniques to unleash the creative potential of a photograph.
- Outdoor Photographer Landscape and Nature Photography with Photoshop CS2 by Rob Sheppard: Recommended as a book that introduces a pure workflow for editing photos that also compares working with Photoshop similar to the way Ansel Adams worked in the darkroom.
- The Photoshop Elements 5 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby: For those photographers who don’t own CS2, Scott Kelby offers excellent tips (as always) on improving your digital photos after the shot.
- The Photographer’s Guide to Capture NX by Jay Odell (eBook): A great guide into making the jump from CS2 to Capture NX, if you so desire. Explains how to use NX and its benefits over CS2.
- Mastering Digital Printing by Harald Johnson: This is the highly regarded printing book for those opting to print their digital photographs at home.
Buy a book or two or three after considering the reviews by other readers. Take some time every day to read a little more and experiment on your technique or seek out an improved photo editing process. By dedicating this time with the goal in mind to learn from some of the acknowledged photography experts, you will pick up greater insights and hopefully produce even better photographs.