How do you learn to take good photographs? Do you go out and take photos, take classes, go to a photo club? Let me add another idea to help you learn. Books! If you think books are a boring way to learn, then let me introduce you to my beginner photography book recommendations. These books are fun, easy to read, and packed with helpful information.
The Digital Photographer’s Handbook – Tom Ang
I never tire of looking through my copy of this book for inspiration and ideas. As the Digital Photographers Handbook is now in its seventh edition this shows how popular it is. Tom Ang (author) is an established photographer who engages your attention with amazing shots you want to try yourself.
The book starts start with a guide to photography basics, and it does assume that you have a little bit of confidence using your camera. This is fair enough, the book is giving you credit for having tried your camera out, watched videos on YouTube and looked at sites packed with How-to’s (like this one) but realised you want something else to help develop your skills.
Important beginner photographer points are covered such as how to hold your camera correctly, how to explore and understand its features, and the best way to compose a successful shot and I feel that after reading the first section of the book you will feel a lot more confident about you and your camera working together.
The second half of the book develops your understanding of photography, and guides you through a series of projects that focus on different photographic genres and subjects. This includes cityscapes, landscapes, pets, portraits and sporting events. You also get advice on enhancing your work with photo software and publishing your work in print or digital form.
I love my copy and if I need help or ideas, it always comes up with something for me to try.
If you are looking for a small portable photography reading book packed with small projects to try then the 52 Assignment series is worth investigating.
If you are following our own #52Assignments series of Instagram challenges you will be familiar with the format of short projects with lots of tips, ideas and a focus on one particular kind of photograph. The series keeps growing and now includes:
- Street Photography
There is also a volume called ‘Photographic Exposure’ which is one year’s worth of weekly assignments to help you create powerful and amazing images.
Recommending a beginner photography book from 2008? You bet. This book may be a bit behind with camera tech but it is packed with short, clearly laid out projects full information and tips that will educate and inspire you. The book call’s itself a ‘roll up your sleeves’ type of book and I agree, there is a different project to enhance your photo skills every day. You don’t have to do the projects in a specific order, what challenges you or takes your fancy is what you can do first.
Here’s some of the things you can learn about:
- Your camera’s features & tools
- Control Depth of Field
- Minimize reflections
- Photograph children and pets
- Remove stray objects from photos
- Take great landscape, cityscape, and nature photos
- Cope with adverse weather and lighting conditions
I included this book as an insight into how a concept can develop from one person’s idea and be embraced by ordinary people all over the globe. Not a beginner photography book but one that might inspire you to look at things differently.
Film maker Wes Anderson, who authorised the book, looks at the world through distinct and different eyes in his movies (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel). The visual sensibility of each film is so striking that people have begun to discovered locations of amazing character that reflect the same quirky view. In fact, there are over a million Anderson Adventurers worldwide.
Inspired by a community of more than one million Adventurers, Accidentally Wes Anderson tells the stories behind more than 200 of the most beautiful, idiosyncratic, and interesting places on Earth.Wally Koval
Dutch photographer Marcel Heijnen is a bit of an Asia specialist and has lived in Hong Kong, with cats, for many years. He noticed cats in were popular in certain market areas of Hong Kong and began to photograph them. Then he had enough to make a book, and what a fascinating, quirky and oddball little book it is. It is also the perfect gift for a cat lover at a modest price.
Not only do you see cats (of course) but you see lives, people and another country’s entirely different way of shopping. Each picture is an eye-opener and a visual feast of weird and wonderful things with the cat front and centre, mostly. Once or twice it took me a moment to find them – Check page 142……).
These cats are part of a family, a shop’s mouser, or a beautiful ornament, and the rich visual imagery is inspiring to browse through. You end up smiling or laughing as you turn the pages and read the specially created haiku poetry too.
Books and Bookshops and Amazon
I use Amazon links on this page, but would recommend that you support a local bookshop (if you have one) if you want a paper copy of any book you see here. Some books are better open in front of you I think. I find my photo books a big help when I can browse and turn the pagers and add Post-It notes. For this reason I include an 10and 13 digit ISBN book number which might make book store ordering a bit easier.
Do any of the books take your fancy? Let me know!
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.
She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.