Best photography books for beginners

I keep hearing two very basic questions fairly often. The first one is: What gear should I buy to begin taking better photographs? My straight answer always is: Don’t buy new gear. It’s not the camera that takes great pictures, it’s the photographer. So if you really want to spend some money, buy books about photography.

Then the second question goes: So what are the best photography books for beginners? Well, not sure which are the best, but there are several books that helped me in making a significant step forward when I was still a complete rookie. They have changed my way of thinking about photography and what the camera and lens were supposed to be used for.

Since the question comes back again and again, I’ve decided to share the top 3 books that turned me from a photography ignorant into beginner amateur. See the list below. I suggest to read them in the same sequence.

1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

It’s the book that made me dare to start using manual and semi-manual modes on my camera for the first time. Bryan Peterson in a very simple and easy to understand way explains what constitutes exposure, what is aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and how each of the parameters depends on the other. Everything is illustrated with beautiful photographs of the author. Easy to follow, enjoyable and very inspiring book.

 

2. Within the Frame by David duChemin

If you’re a passionate traveler, like I am, but has just begun to take more intentional pictures during your travels, like I have, then this is the next book for you. David duChemin can write about photography in an inspiring way like no other. The theme of the book and its author’s blog focuses on pursuing your vision in the process of taking photographs. Using the material from his international journeys, David shows examples of how to present in an interesting and visually appealing way people, cultures and places on the photographs. Most importantly, he urges all of us to seek our style, vision and develop skills, instead of getting distracted by thinking about the gear.

3. The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman

Now let’s get to serious stuff: composition. What is it, how to learn it, how to use it. How to find balance or dynamics within a frame. Michael Freeman explains in a very comprehensive way every single aspect of composing photographs supporting it with dozens of excellent examples. Yet, what I love the most about the book is the last paragraph, which reveals the biggest secret of all great photographers… the repertoire.

 

What are the books that made impact on you? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.

-Jakub

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