Purist photographers are always complaining about the instant fixes and the plethora of filters available on different platforms that finesse a photograph without teaching the user any fundamentals about the craft. In the world of selfies and social media validation, that is a bit true and their disappointment is a bit valid. But one way to look at it is that all of it, no matter how it is done, is art. And there is no time like the present to gain a little more depth about the art of photography. Which is why we’ve gathered a list of the best photography books.

Best Photography Books

Photography is one of those skills that you get better at as and when you learn more about the subject, your camera and the many ways in which you can use it to advertise your work without instant editing and Instagram filters. While online tutorials, photography courses, and photography challenges are a great way to explore your camera and go wild with your imagination, picking up a book on the subject actually puts you on an excellent guided learning path. So here’s a collection of some highly recommended books on photography by the experts.

The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes by Joe McNally

The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes by Joe McNally

This is a book about lighting techniques, one of the most crucial aspects of photography. Brought to you by Joe McNally, this is a sure-shot way to get great images. McNally uses Nikon Speedlights to illustrate his thought process and also demonstrates how he does it with small flashes. Whether it’s an indoor piece or an outdoor masterpiece, lighting is one of those aspects that defines a photograph. You could get everything right and still ruin the picture because of bad lighting. If you’ve experienced that, this is the book you want to pick up. 

McNally spent 30 years behind the lens working for National Geographic, Time, Life and Sports Illustrated. In this book, he talks about how to shape, color and control light. He also teaches tips and tricks about using hot shoe flashes. Want to know what that is? You’re going to have to buy the book. It is available in multiple formats and is relatively affordable.

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Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

After learning about lighting, the next thing you need is exposure. This book has over 100 illustrations that compare pictures to demonstrate how exposure has an impact on pictures. 

In this book, Bryan Peterson, breaks down the complex subject of exposure in the simplest possible way. It’s a great book for beginners but also provides an excellent point of view for intermediate and expert level photographers to understand exposure. Peterson also demonstrates how metering is crucial for a starting exposure and also breaks down the different kinds of exposure meters and the different kinds of lighting.

You will also learn about the use of depth of field, how to get a blur when dealing with motion photography and lighting a subject or space up at night. This is one for the essential kit. It is available in multiple formats and is quite cheap. 

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Speedliter’s Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites by Syl Arena

Speedliters Handbook by Syl Arena

If you’re a Canon lover, welcome aboard. This one is exclusively for those of us who have pledged their allegiance to Canon (haha, Nikon users). But jokes apart, a lot of this information including tips and tricks can be applied to cameras of other brands too. 

If you’re new to flash photography, this is the one to pick up. We all have tussled with certain functions of the camera that everyone encourages us to explore but we just can’t figure them out. Speedliter’s Handbook will guide you through those knots too. Whether you’re clicking portraits for fun or shooting professionally at an event, this is a great book to have in your library.  It is available only as a paperback at the moment and is a bit heavy on the pocket. 

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Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

Tony Northrups DSLR Book

This is no ordinary book on photography. Which means it’s for every kind of photographer. It is like reading a photography masterclass and comes with three hours of online training videos. There are elaborate and hands-on training exercises that will greatly hone your skill and technique. 

But that shouldn’t intimidate you. It’s a lot of information coming from an expert to beginners, intermediate level photographers and fellow experts. It is quite the choice among photographers across the globe and is highly recommended by experts in the field. It comes only in one format and is a tad bit expensive but is totally worth investing in. 

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Creative Black and White: Digital Photography Tips and Tricks by Harold Davis

Creative Black and White

If you’re a lover of monochromes, this is the one for you. Black and white photography hides as much as it reveals. To get these pictures (portrait or landscape) right, you need to know just about everything in terms of technicality. You need to have a solid understanding of exposure and contrasts. You need to understand composition when color isn’t helping you do it. You need to know about lighting so that you are able to draw the viewer’s eye to the right point in the photograph. 

Monochrome photographs are beautiful to look at but it takes quite a bit of mastery to be able to recreate them with the same amount of panache. This book, by Harold Davis helps you in doing exactly that. Davis also shows how to use these rules and when to break them. This book is a photographer’s paradise. And it is one of the best on the subject. 

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The Digital Photography Handbook: An Illustrated Step-by-step Guide by Doug Harman

The Digital Photography Handbook

This book is an overall guide to digital photography. And it starts right at the beginning – which camera to buy. Once you have the device, it’s time to take a few shots and work on the result. From composition to retouching images in post-production, this book teaches you a little bit about everything. 

You will learn about composition, depth of field, editing and retouching using a software. You will kind of turn into a photography generalist and a pretty good one at that, by the time Doug Harman is done with you. You will also learn about photography copyrights. 

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Conclusion: Become The Photographer You Want To Be 

There’s no single book that can teach you all about photography. It’s an art form where the entire world is your canvas. But, plenty of books come close to that. Being able to sit down with an expert and hone your skill whether it’s for an Instagram post or a professional portfolio is an activity that is sure to bring joy and warmth to your heart. If for nothing else, you have to give it a shot to experience that feeling of oneness with the device and the subject. So, aren’t we lucky that each of these books promises exactly that in so many different ways?

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