Long before I started blogging, and around when I picked up photography I read books. In the beginning I read almost any photography book I could put my hand on, and as time progresses I got more picky.
I intend to maintain this list and link to it from the main page for your reference.
Below you will find my favorite reads, the books that helped me learn how to light, how to approach a portrait and that a photograph is more than a combination of aperture and shutter speed.
Here I listed my favorite books about “how to photograph”, those books are the ones that I feel had the greatest impact on me in term of learning how to use the camera, lights, and myself as photography tools.
Light: Science and Magic is probably the best lighting theory book in the world. Fil Hunter, Steven Biver & Paul Fuqua break light into its basic elements and invest a great deal on the interaction between the physics of light and what this physics is doing to your photographs. If you are interested in how light works this is probably the book that you need to read.
It focuses mainly on the technical aspects of lighting so it is a very good read if you are looking on how to solve complex lighting issues. It talks less about the aspects of portrait lighting, using small flashes or on location lighting, however every time you “nail” one of those, good chances you’ll say. Man this was in the book, just in it’s pure technical form.
There is a full review about this book here, titled the best photography book ever.
The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally is a wonderful read if you wanna learn more about approaching a portrait. Joe shares experience from his long and successful career as assignment photographer, including lighting tips, posing tips and (what some may consider) party tips.
The book is crammed with useful advice on almost definitely every aspect of photography, with what may be considered focus on “getting the photograph nailed”. If Light: Science and Magic is the brains of photography, The Moment it Clicks is the heart. You can read my full review here.
A “brother” book to The Moment is The Hot Shoe Diaries. Still written with the same McNally style, this book is focused on getting great results from hot shoe flashes. Or strobes.It deals with placement, modding, stacking small flashes. Mostly Nikons.
This book still has some great stories in it, yet it give greater focus on the how, where and what to do with small strobes. Going from “easy” one flash setup through two flashes all the way to Gazzilion strobes. It discusses modifiers, diffusers and gobos. It also goes down the diagram path showing us how to re-create the images (assuming we have similar personal charm and access to Bill Clinton).
Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time by Jim Goldstein
is a great book if you are seeking to explore some creative ways to use your camera. The book covers a wide range of photography techniques centered around “shooting time”.
While it may seem that we cant actually photograph time, Jim proves that there are many ways in which we can actually photograph it. The book has a bit of everything time has to offer, Light Painting, time lapse, shooting star trails, creating ‘moving images’ and more.
It even has a field guide at the end that you can print along and take with you on location for quick reference. A great value for $20.
Matters Of Light and Depth by Ross Lowell is an old school guide with plenty of style. Light and Depth was written a long time ago, however it is still relevant. It is full of practical advice and experience.
It is also a great guide for video / cinema shooters that want to light better. In fact, some of the chapters are specifically aimed for video and cinema.
I did a full review on the book here.
Along with the how, there is also the what and why, Looking at the work of other good photographers is inspiring and can teach you a lot. (+ it is fun, and aside Newton’s albums, it is good family time). There are too many to count, So I am listing my favorite two.
Annie Leibowitz has been one of the main reasons I was drawn to shoot people. Her books Women and American Music, are my two favorite photography books. I also greatly enjoyed At Work in she which tells about her career and vision.
Andrew Zuckerman has been a great inspiration is the way he sees whomever is in front of the camera. Be it man, woman or animal. I find myself constantly going back to his books Wisdom and Creature for inspiration and enjoyment.
If you are not the reading fella, there are a few other gifts that may make you happy and teach you photography.
DVDs: There are two great DVDs, The first one, is actually a DVD set from David Hobby (AKA Strobist), that is kinda like a visual bible for lighting with small strobes. The DVD set is surprisingly called Strobist and is available here.
The second DVD is from Zack Arias, who is an Atlanta based photographer, Zack hold a great workshop (so I hear, I have never been to one) called one light, and the DVD has all the great info from that workshop. It is a very good DVD for beginners as it demonstrates lots of lighting theory and it is also cheap on gear – one light. The DVD, named OneLight can be bought here.
For transparency reasons I will note that the links on the list are marked with my tag, so when you buy a book from that list I get a small percentage of the sale, while there is no impact on the book price. Buying books from the list is a great way to support DIYP