Written by Marjorie Dawson

5 Beginner Photography Book Ideas

5 Beginner Photography Book Ideas

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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.

Christmas Cat Videos. How do I make one?
What Will Santa Bring? (stock photo)

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.

Beginner Photography book. Photography Reading at its best. tom Ang is an inspiration
© Dorling Kindersley – Tom Ang (Author)
Photography reading at its best.

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.

52 Assignments Series

Photography reading is an inspiration
Photography reading is an inspiration

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:

  • Nature
  • Street Photography
  • Travel
  • Landscape
  • Experimental

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.

Digital Photography Workbook for Dummies – Doug Sahlin

Sometimes a step by step is all you need to learn with a Beginner Photography book.

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

Accidentally Wes Anderson

A book cover with a blue sky. A unique look through the lens can enliven life. Beginner Photography book idea.

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

Shop Cats of Hong Kong

Beginner Photography book. Shop Cats Photo boo

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.

Beginner photography book. Marjorie Dawson, photographer, Using her Canon 1300D DSLR camera
Smartphone Photo – Marjorie Dawson

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 Dawson

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.

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21 thoughts on “5 Beginner Photography Book Ideas”

  1. Photog books are a great holiday gift idea so perfect timing! I love books. I still need to master the features of digital cameras, I have a long way to go.

  2. These all look like great photography books! I gave my sister Accidentally Wes Anderson last year for Christmas. She loved it!

  3. It looks like you have some great books here. My husband is just starting to really get into photography and playing with my camera, so I might have to pick one up for him for the holidays. As for the one book being a bit older, I think people often forget that the fundamentals of an activity like photography don’t change even if the tech itself does grow and evolve.

    • Yes. That is the reason I include such a venerable Dummies book, the details and thoughts are so relevant.

  4. This is a great list, and I think I need the dummies book. I aspire to learn how to use my camera (and it isn’t even a DSLR!) These are also great gift recommendations as well.

  5. Inspiring! Thank you for sharing these fabulous resources. I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately and I’m very excited to work through this list!

  6. What a great guide for us beginners in photography! I like the For Dummies book as well as the Shop Cats of Hong Kong. I’ll have to check those out. This is a great list for gift giving for the holidays as well. I’ll be sure to pin and share this!

  7. The 52 Assignments Series looks like an exciting inspiration and motivation to get doing it. I love that recommendation.

  8. What a fabulous gift idea! I love books and learning something new. My photo-taking skills certainly need to be improved. And there is nothing like getting lost in a book and then trying out what you’ve learned, like how to take a great photo. The dummies book might be my speed. 😉 Great list of books! Thanks for the ideas

  9. How cool! I LOVE books, but don’t have any photography books in my collection currently. I’m particularly interested in the 52 Assignments Series book because I like the idea of having photography challenges to work on and draw ideas from.

    • I love the 52 series. I had to put my 52 Instagram series on hold but am planning to return to it. I agree 100% the books are inspsiring!

  10. There are so many great books out there; hubby doesn’t even allow me to set a foot in a book store–for a good reason 🙂

  11. The For Dummies workbook looks really good, I could use something like that. I’m still at the very beginner phase of learning – I really should get going to really learn how to use my camera! Thanks for these great reco’s
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  12. I think there may be that ‘dummies’ book here…somewhere.
    I have some really ancient ones my dad gave me eons ago…long before anyone ever conceived of digital photography…and even before computers were anywhere besides huge businesses.

    I learned a lot form my dad, and those books, mostly about composition and a wee bit about lighting, but those books all seem to think everyone had an SLR back then…huh? Not me! My first pics were taken with a Kodak, held down in front of yourself, and there was a mirror in it so you could see the image you were making. That was 1968, I think. I don’t remember the kind of camera, but it was kind of boxy. A museum piece by now!

    Then I got an Olympus Trip, 35mm, small but adequate for P & S pics, Then I got Dad’s Yashika, a larger more advanced 35mm…but I found it bulky and heave, so then I got a Fugi 35mm, it got me through my youngster’s baby years…then II I got a small P&S Canon, digital…and now I have the larger Canon SX40, also a P&S camera…maybe in the future when I am way more ancient I might try to keep my brain active with a new DSLR…who knows. Hubby has one, but its not his, its from his work, so I do not use it.

    But if I ever get a new smart phone, well, then I may just have a handy pocket camera once again.

    Whatever this history has to do with books?? LOL! Well, I have used them with all but my digital cameras!

  13. Really good list of books for learning photography! The Shop Cats of Hong Kong does jump out at me . . .
    Digital Photography Workbook for Dummies would probably be a good place for me to start. LOL


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