There are so many great books available to help us to improve our skills. Did you know if you go to Amazon.com right now and search for photography there are 1,392,845 results returned? Wow! How do we choose which one is best for us? That’s a hard question for us to answer because only you can answer that based on your own personal preferences, your shooting style, how you run your business and what your typical subject is.
What is important is that you begin collecting not just one or two individual books to gain inspiration from, but instead start building a vast collection of fantastic books that showcase some of the best photography in the style you want to shoot and that teach you the steps needed to obtain that level of professional photographic quality.
It was hard to even create this list but we’re gonna give it a try. Here is our own personal choice of fantastic photography books that can help you improve your photography skills.
Recommended Photography Books
The Luminous Portrait is a beautiful book, not only for the photography inside but also for the writing. The author, Elizabeth Messina, writes as if she’s sitting right next to you holding a conversation with you. She does give some hints on technique but this book focuses on her beautiful insight on her thought process for capturing light the way she does instead of what shutter speed you should use. In her book, she asks you to dig in deep and really think about what you are photographing. While this isn’t a highly technical book, it’s still a book worthy of having in your collection for beautiful photography inspiration.
If you are looking for something that will push you to be creative, to grasp new concepts and will walk you through detailed steps in an easy to follow format, this is the book for you. The sections in the book are short and easy to read and have actual tasks to go out and do. All are created using natural light, so there are no expensive set ups required and no fancy gear you need. The main focus of the book is to get out there and do it. Practice it. Chris gives you 30 different exercises to try so you will never been wanting for something new to try. Before running out and taking an expensive e-course, give this book a try.
The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression
by Bruce Barnbaum
This is another of our favorites because it is more than just a technical how-to. It is a beautiful book with loads of inspiration and includes all of the technical details in an easy to understand language that even those new to photography can understand. This newly revised version from the original one put out in 1994 includes some touches on digital photography but still goes back quite a bit to Bruce’s original film methodologies. This may or not be a good thing for you. For me, even though I am digital, I can still take many of the film techniques and use them in the digital world.
Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition
by Bryan Peterson
One of the more technical oriented books in our list, Understanding Exposure, is a great book if you really want to understand every setting on your camera and how they all work together to create beautiful photographs. Exposure is something many photographers don’t quite grasp and just rely on their camera to automatically do everything for them, but if you can pick this book up, you will gain a firm grasp on the basic concepts taught by Bryan and can really start to improve your photography.
This book literally contains “Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros” as the subtitle indicates. You may recognize the name Joe McNally right away as he has several books available and is well known as Life magazine’s photographer. This book will not disappoint if you want something that will tell you step by step how to create beautiful photographs. This is one of those books that you also don’t need to be afraid of missing out on critical details as each photograph in the book contains some technical information under it with the F-stop, shutter speed and ISO used to create it. Definitely worthy of adding to your collection.
Featured Photo Credit: Amanda Hamilton on Flickr