10 books every photographer must read

Whether you're just starting as a photographer, or you've been following your creative passion for years, there's never an excuse to stop learning.

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

Image licensed via Adobe Stock

If you're a photographer, either amateur or professional, and you'd like to boost your skills or add some great reads to your bookshelf, then the following ten essential titles are ones to consider.

1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Take a leaf through Understanding Exposure, and you'll discover more than 100 vivid, graphic comparison pictures to illustrate every point that this classic book makes – all to help you get the most out of your exposure decisions.

Peterson talks through the importance of metering the subject for a starting exposure and then explains how to use various exposure meters and different kinds of lighting. You'll also enjoy lessons on each element of the triangle and how it relates to the other two in terms of depth of field, freezing and blurring action, and shooting in low light or at night — an essential book for any photographer.

2. Tony Northrup's Dslr Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

Stunning Digital Photography goes above and beyond your ordinary photographer book. It's also a hands-on, self-paced photography class with over three hours of online training videos and free help from the author and other readers. Written by Tony Northrup, it's a best-seller and one that's very popular amongst photographers worldwide.

3. The Digital Photography Book Volume 2 by Scott Kelby

If you enjoyed Scott Kelby's groundbreaking bestseller The Digital Photography Book, Vol. 1 – you're going to appreciate Volume 2. This edition is where Scott adds entirely new chapters packed with tips on using flash, shooting close up photography, travel photography, shooting people, and even how to build a studio from scratch. It's everything you need in one book.

4. The Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan

The Creative Digital Darkroom takes you beyond the quick tips and gimmicky effects of many digital photography books. Author and artist Katrin Eismann offers some seriously high-profile work, including her own, as examples for teaching you how to use the digital medium to create, edit, and output images that will wow your audience.

Co-authored by photographer and teacher Sean Duggan, the book translates skills, concepts, and nomenclature of the traditional darkroom into digital solutions for photographers who sense that, despite the newness of the technologies at hand, there remains a timeless method for learning and practising photography the right way. It is not a Photoshop book per se, but it does focus on the photographic aspects of Photoshop, something other books claim to do but rarely have the discipline to accomplish.

5. The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally

After spending more than 30 years behind the lens—working for National Geographic, Time, Life, and Sports Illustrated, to name but a few—photographer Joe McNally is someone who knows everything there is to know about light. How to shape it, colour it, control it, and direct it. Most importantly, he knows how to create it... using small hot shoe flashes.

In The Hot Shoe Diaries, Joe reveals all his secrets and shares lighting solutions to help you create your fantastic images. Using Nikon Speedlights, Joe lets you in on his uncensored thought process—often funny, sometimes serious, always fascinating—to demonstrate how he makes his pictures with these cute little flashes.

6. Collins Complete Photography Course by John Garrett

The Collins Complete Photography Course by John Garrett is like having your own photography teacher and companion. It's an inspiring and practical project-based coursebook that covers everything from basic composition to the latest digital darkroom techniques.

You can learn at your own pace and develop essential photographic techniques through step-by-step projects on exposure, aperture, lenses, light, filters, colour, black and white and image enhancement; plus professional secrets and stunning shots from around the world.

7. The Photographer's Story: The Art of Visual Narrative by Michael Freeman

Today's photographers approach their craft in a multitude of ways. With so many millions of people taking up the craft, there's a sizeable support group for every interest, from iPhoneography to artistic, humanitarian, or collaborative photography. Narrative is one such popular field, as more and more photographers take an interest in creating coherent photo stories.

Using Michael's own work, and that of many other great photographers, this unique book will show you how classic photo stories are shot and edited and give you a wealth of ideas to unlock the potential of your most powerful storytelling tool: your camera.

8. The Digital Photography Handbook: An Illustrated Step-by-step Guide by Doug Harman

Need to know which digital camera to buy? Want to take better photographs and retouch images? Ready to achieve professional results? This updated edition of The Digital Photography Handbook by Doug Harman will allow you to make the most of all the advantages your camera has to offer - as well as guide you through the latest software to enhance your images, and get professional results with every shot.

This book includes expert advice on the art of photography – think composition, depth of field and how to photograph a variety of subjects – editing and image manipulation software, how to print your images for the best results, developing a portfolio and mastering the rules of copyright.

9. The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer by N.K. Guy

It's such a simple question, but one that often leaves many discerning photographers confused and overwhelmed, but how do you choose the right lens for your camera? Enter The Lens: A Practical Guide for the Creative Photographer. It's not a simple catalogue of available lenses, as that would be impossible to keep updated with so many new models entering the market all the time. Instead author N.K. Guy gives you all the information you need to make smart buying decisions. Optical technology is demystified, arcane terminology is decoded, and practical tips are provided. The Lens will help you build the perfect lens collection to suit your needs both now and in the future.

10. The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression by Bruce Barnbaum

This newly revised edition of the classic book The Art of Photography is one of the most readable, understandable, and comprehensive textbooks on photography. And a must-have for anyone who loves photography.

In plain English, Barnbaum presents how-to techniques for both traditional and digital approaches. Yet he goes well beyond the technical as he delves deeply into the philosophical, expressive, and creative aspects of photography. This beautiful book is geared toward every level of photographer who seeks to make a personal statement through their chosen medium.


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