Forging a career by doing something we love is what most people dream, however, before you can become a successful photographer you need to have some key skills which you can only get by reading interesting books. Personally, I'm a huge book nerd and I love reading all types of books whether it's about photography gear or inspiring stories. The following article is all about best photography books which I would recommend if you truly want to devout your life and time to this profession. Because just having an expensive camera gear will not make you a professional, but if you start learning you will gradually find something new and become successful in your career.
Personally, I think that the book is more important in the digital age as it provides more detailed knowledge about the subject, rather than the online video courses which you could get on the internet. The truth is that everyone has learned photography reading books and even those people who offer video courses have gained knowledge by experimenting and reading a lot of materials. That's why we should learn to read for enjoyment and put more effort in identifying what's important for our lives while keeping in mind that reading is still most important part of the education.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” - Walt Disney
Categorizing the Best Photography Books
After searching for the best photography books on the internet I came to the conclusion that it could be a quite challenging process, especially for beginners as they don't know exactly what they are looking for. So I gathered must-read photography books, suggested by experts and combined them into one article. Also, it's worth noting that during structuring this guide, I realized that different people are interested in various subjects and not everybody is looking for a beginner's guide. So to meet all needs I decided to categorize the article and include all types of books for different readers.
All the information and the images included in the following books have been written or taken by professionals, which will provide an insight into their work and will enable you to become a better photographer by simply taking quality photos.
Photographic Equipment & Techniques
Starting as a beginner it's always important to know how to operate your camera gear so that you can get perfect shot every time you press the shutter button. In order to build a solid foundation, you have to read the books about camera equipment and techniques, which will provide you with useful information that can improve your skills and help you take engaging photos.
By Bryan Peterson
The following book is considered to be the best-selling book in the Digital Photography category on Amazon store, which is an important factor to be taken into consideration if you are looking for a true photography book. Also, the number of revisions also prove that the demand and quality have never been the problem for the author. The revisions which took place over the years were minor because the information in this book is all about understanding exposure. The content itself is well written and nicely put together along with images and the information which is clear and concise.
The book is not just photos with the technical information printed underneath images, there are paragraphs explaining why the author has chosen a specific exposure. As there is a number of different exposures that you can choose for any given scenario and it's all covered in the book. Also, it's worth noting that Bryan Peterson has used a very basic equipment to explain the idea of photography because the fundamentals that you will learn from this book is same no matter what camera you're going to use.
In conclusion, I certainly recommend picking up a copy of this book, which you could also preview on Kindle to see the structure of the content. But, you would hardly find anything batter that explains exposure triangle, aperture, shutter speed and ISO in such a detailed way as "Understanding Exposure" does. This book can also be extremely helpful if you're just starting out in photography and trying to learn the basics. Plus once you finish reading it's a perfect reference book and it will definitely help you in the future projects to expand your creative options and get a perfect exposure in seemingly difficult situations.
The Digital Photography Book Series
By Scott Kelby
The digital photography book turned out to be the world's best-selling digital photography book in the history. The author walks you through different camera techniques and explains everything in detail, so it's definitely a fantastic book for learners at all levels. Over the years Scott Kelby has published different parts of this book, with over a thousand pages. It's worth noting that every book introduces advanced topics with seamless transition so you won't feel lost if you pick second or even fifth part of this incredible book. Furthermore, it's a great visual guide once you need a quick refresh as the author explains difficult issues straight to the point. The book also helps you to understand lighting techniques, camera settings, editing, composition, exposure, and even gives you equipment suggestions based on your budget and requirements. In addition, every single page is devoted to separate concept and there are photo examples for visual reference making it ultimate resource for anyone who wants to shoot professional-looking photos.
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
- Part 5: Photo Recipes
- New: The Best of
In order to take advantage of the whole series, you should consider reading all five book, if you want to go from zero to hero. Plus recently Scott has also published a new book "The Best of The Digital Photography Book Series" where he precisely picked the very best stuff for the reader. Featuring the best tips from previous books, it's also an updated version of the digital photography book, with an extra bonus chapter for mobile photography.
Extraordinary Everyday Photography
By Brenda Tharp & Jed Manwaring
If you really want to learn how to take advantage of the environment and shoot perfect images in any condition then "Extraordinary Everyday Photography" is a right choice for you. The book will open your eyes and will teach you how to see the world from a camera perspective, in order to take extraordinary and inspiring photos. The author walks your thought different stages of photography and gives you live examples with DSLRs, compact digital camera and even with a smartphone to prove that the gear is not important as long as you have a creative vision. Also, don't expect from this book to get some technical discussion on different camera settings, instead you will learn how to grow artistically and concentrate on the composition and environment which you have to use in your advantage.
How to Create Stunning Digital Photography
By Tony Northrup & Chelsea Knowles
Scott Kelly's digital photography guide is a pretty much unique book as you would be coming back to it as a reference for the rest of your photo photographic life whenever you want to sharpen your skills on a particular genre. With practical examples and video training course, it's an absolute bargain for the beginner photographers or an advanced shooter who wants to revisit the basics of photography. Plus you also get exclusive access to a Facebook page and readers forum as well as free updates to strength your experience on the various subjects.
It worth noting that when it comes to learning the technical tips, the book is really comprehensive. Each chapter includes a detailed explanation of camera equipment and settings used to take the photo, with real-world examples. The author covers different methods for taking great portraits, HDRs, Macros and so much more. In addition, you can take advantage of an online quiz which is similar to homework assignments for photographers to sharpen your skills and to remember what you've just learned. So if you're a beginner or a more experienced photographer looking to revisit some of the basics or learn more about different aspects of photography you should definitely get the copy of this book.
Arts & Photography Books
In this chapter, we are going to take a look at books which demonstrate the work of famous photographers, that can be used as a inspiration or motivation to truly make a difference in the industry of modern photography.
The Definitive Visual History
By Tom Ang
The book is written by world's most famous photographer and writer Tom Ang, which walks you through the history of photography. Sometimes it's hard to believe that it took years to shake off the domination of black and white, whether for aesthetic reasons or because of snobbery. The interesting fact is that after 50 years people were able to bring colors in photos because in the past it was only regarded as commercial work and rarely get any artistic attention. By tracing the history, Tom Ang helps you to understand how colors were used to shape images by simply presenting the artistic work of famous photographers. Starting from the first black-and-white street photography stories you would be able to experience 50 different profiles, with inspiring stories and ideas which completely changed the perception of photography.
The Art of Photography
by Bruce Barnbaum
This is a new edition of the classic book "The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression", which was sold more than 100,000 copies and is still considered to be the most readable photography guide. Featuring almost 200 photos as well as charts, tables, and graphs it's a wonderful book for beginners or even advanced photographers who are looking for something new in photography.
The author personally teaches you both traditional and digital photography techniques and introduces entirely new chapter about digital zoom system and image adjustments. Also, you could find the sperate topics discussing the concepts of art vs. technique and traditional photography vs. digital. Throughout the book, you also be able to dive into philosophy and creative aspects of photography. So overall it's a perfect resource for anyone who is looking for a practical and inspirational guide.
Individual Photographers Books
The books included in the individual photographer's category are pretty unique as they tell the stories of individuals. Besides the high-quality images, you would also get the chance to learn more about famous people or ordinary people who have some exciting stories to tell.
The Atlas of Beauty
by Mihaela Noroc
The following book is pretty unique as it introduces images and stories of 500 women from around the world. The author has traveled the world with her camera and tried to represent the real beauty of our universe by showcasing the diversity and beauty of women. The images come from fifty different counties across the globe and have the main aim to show that everyone is beautiful regardless of race, money or social status. It's also worth noting that Mihaela's portraits represent women in their native environment, which also helps the reader to experience different cultures and traditions.
Obama: An Intimate Portrait
By Pete Souza
The visual biography of Barack Obama's presidency captured by the White House photographer is one of the unique photography books available on the market. It presents crucial moments photographed in excellent detail, especially the photos which have never been published before. By reading this book you will get chance to experience the behind-the-scenes captions and stories of the president life and his family, as well as interactions with cultural figures and so much more. "An Intimate Portrait" is undoubtedly the precious historical document, which tells the true story of a presidency in a best possible way.
Special Kinds Of Photography
The books represented in the following category are truly special as they don't have a specific genre or purpose to demonstrate. Here you would be able to see books about aerial photography, astronomy, aviation, history and so much more. Anything that doesn't feet in general photography but is unique and inspiring.
You Are Here : Around the World in 92 Minutes
By Chris Hadfield
"You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes" is a really special photography book which shows the big picture of our world seen by the astronaut Chris Hadfield. Some of you might already know Chris from his Twitter account where he posts new images from the International Space Station and you might also remember the first reaction you had when you first saw his pictures taken from space. With this book, he shares a fresh and insightful look at our world, providing stunning images taken from the space. Thanks to his knowledge of geography and geology Chris captured the real mystery of our planet the way nobody has done before. Those images will help you understand the real consequences of human settlement and the power of nature which shapes the world as it is now.
Overview: A New Perspective of Earth
By Benjamin Grant
The book includes unique satellite images of Earth, which are really inspiring as it gives an "Overview Effect" that astronauts experience every time they leave planet earth. The following photos are a great representation of the landscapes that we have shaped over the years. The book features 200 images of agriculture, architecture and nature highlights which also reveals the impact of humans settlement on our planet. These amazing and inspiring photos capture the wonderful senses of our world within an interesting perspective which we have never seen before.
The Final Words
First of all, I hope you enjoyed the article and ideally have already found the interesting books to read. The main purpose of this guide was to encourage you to read some interesting books about photography, which you can later use as a reference for your future projects.
Also if you've got any books that you would like to recommend, feel free to leave a comment as I would be gradually updating the following article to add more interesting books.