10 Photography Book Recommendations By DIYP Readers

Liri getting an early start on photographyAbout a month ago I asked DIYP readers what were your favorite books? A month (and a new home) later I am sharing this list with you.

It is not surprising that the list features both great classic books as well as some new one and some great hidden gems. Thanks for all the readers that participated and took the time to share their thoughts.

The number of books out there can be stunning, so it may be interesting to see what other photographers think about some of the books out there, and get a direction. 

I picked up 10 of those books and reviews that I felt gave a good reason to go out and buy a book:

1. The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally

The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes (Paperback)The best photography book I’ve read so far is The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally. I learned lots of stuff about off-camera flashing, which is vast branch of photography. You never get bored with it.

I like this particular book also because of the way Joe writes. It’s like sitting in a cafe chatting with him.

Recommended by fbat

2. To contrast we also have The Moment it Clicks also by Joe McNally

The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world's top shootersI’d say The Moment it Clicks by Joe McNally. Not only does he talk about the lighting and setups for his photos, but also the people-oriented side of photography required to work with subjects and editors, and plenty of odd and entertaining stories from his career.


Recommended by Dave and Matthew Botos

3. Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel

Material World: A Global Family PortraitI recently picked up and LOVE “Material World: A Global Family Portrait” by Peter Menzel.

One of the best done, most informative, and best executed concepts I have had the pleasure of reading.

Recommended by Ryan Holloway

4. The 35mm Handbook by Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman's Creative Photography: New 35mm HandbookA few weeks back I visited a local charity shop and came across “The 35mm Handbook” by Michael Freeman. Published in 1980 by Ziff Davis its 320 pages are packed with almost encyclopedic content on everything from Techniques to Application.

It is of course based on film photography but the book makes it so easy to relate to today’s Digital world. I only wish I had found it 30 years ago – it would have changed my life!!

Recommended by Dave 

5. The DAM Book by Peter Krogh

The DAM BookOK, I’m showing my nerdy colours here. I really love Light: Science and Magic and the Joe McNally books, but if I have to pick ONE book that has impacted my photography the most it would have to be The DAM Book by Peter Krogh. It’s all about Digital Asset Management.

While I didn’t learn how to light or how to see, reading that book (I own both the first and the vastly updated second edition) I learned how a photographer can have a professional workflow that treats the entire collection of images as an asset and increases the value of that asset by systematically organizing and securing it. Nerdy as I said, but a truly valuable resource from the world leading expert in DAM.

Recommended by Geoff 

6. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson 

Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera (Updated Edition)There are so many to choose from, that it’s hard to choose just one. But I think that Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with a Film or Digital Camera would be the one. It’s written in such a simple way and is the book that turned on the lights for me as far as exposure control goes.

Until I read it I struggled to get a grip on the relationship between ISO, aperture and film speed, but this book showed me how truly simple this is and I haven’t looked back since. This book is a “must read” for new photographers or those who have DSLRs or high-end digital compacts but still rely on the automatic modes.

Recommended by Steve Crane and RJS

7. Within the frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David Duchemin 

Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic VisionI would also submit that DuChemin’s book “Within the Frame” is also another good book – it strays away from the normal “photo” “How-to” format and focuses on the “why-to”…

He also discusses photographing people, landscapes, and more – this book focuses a bit on the human element.

Recommended by Mohamed, pixelmixture and RJS 

8. The Negative by Ansel Adams

The Negative (Ansel Adams Photography, Book 2)At the time I was shooting black & white film and developing it myself, and Adams’ scientific approach to photography blew me away. The Zone System and his focus on previsualising helped me improve my own photos, and the way he offhandedly explains his own research (“You can buy commercial developer, but I made my own. Here’s the formula…”) was an inspiration.

It’s not a practical book for digital shooters, but if you’ve ever tried your own developing or wanted to know the nitty-gritty about correct exposure it’s well worth a read.

Recommended by Alex Pounds 

9. The Photograph: Composition and Color Design by Harald Mante

The Photograph: Composition and Color Design“The Photograph” is a great book on composition; it goes way beyond the basics (rule of thirds…). The book has been around for some time but was just recently published in English.

It’s definitely not for the beginner, but would be great for any photographer (wedding, landscape, portrait…) the only downside, is all of the flipping between pages and text.

Recommended by James W 

10. Mountain Light by Galen Rowell

Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, Tenth-Anniversary EditionI’d say Galen Rowell’s book “Mountain Light” is a photography book that really inspired me. Each shot in the book is simply amazing and he gives in great detail how he did it but more importantly WHY he did it that way. The images are inspiring and the text is entertaining and informational.

Recommended by Tyler 

A Thought

As a side note to this wonderful exercise it was interesting to see that the sentiment on photography books was similar to the sentiment Chase Jarvis noted on photography blogs. First in line are the “how to” books (at least by the number of them on the list), Seconds are “why to” books. Only at third place are books with pictures and words with no explanations. Interesting note.

Feedback Solicitation

Is your favorite book here? If yes, tell us why it is your fav. If not, add it to the list.