One of the most common ways in which today, this wonderful art is learned, is through self-taught reading. That’s why I bring you a list of some of the best photography books that exist today.
To understand the basic principles of photography or to acquire information about tricks, special techniques and tips that allow you to improve your photographs, it is not enough to read every article that is going around the internet, you must go to the sources of knowledge. Books are an inexhaustible source of information and inspiration for all those photographers who dare to read them.
However, the immense amount of books and the great variety of authors available for you to acquire all the necessary information and take your photographs to another level, can end up making you disoriented instead of helping you to improve as a photographer.
That is why, in today’s article, I have prepared this list with 11 of the best photography books that can not miss in your library and that will help you to enhance the artist in you.
- Photography Step by Step – Michael Langford
- The Photographer’s Eye – Michael Freeman
- The Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes
- The fundamentals of photography. High Quality Photography
- People Photography – Michael Gnade
- The Secrets of Photographic Exposure – Bryan Peterson
- On Photography – Susan Sontag
- The Photographer’s Vision: Understanding and Appreciating Good Photography – Michael Freeman
- Read this book if you want to take good photographs – Henry Carrol
- The Art of Composition – Fran Nieto
- The Personal Photographic Project – Rosa Isabel Vázquez
And if you’re looking for a gift for someone else, here are more gift ideas for photographers.
The Best Photography Books
If you do a quick search for the best photography books on the internet, you will realize that the number of titles available about this art is abysmal. Year after year, the number and variety of manuals, books and articles that are published is enormous, which can make that, if you are taking your first steps, you don’t have a clear idea of where to start.
To help you find your way through this sea of ink, I have prepared a list of books that should not be missing in your photographic library.
1. Photography Step by Step – Michael Langford
To enter the world of photographic bibliography with this book is to do it through the front door. Although it was published in 1978, almost all of its contents are still valid today.
Although some of its contents such as developing and enlargements are only applicable to analog photography, you can take advantage of these chapters to learn a bit of the history of photography while the rest of the chapters will be of great help to you to learn from the basics of handling the camera to lighting techniques, types of framing, rules of composition, etc.
Throughout its more than 200 pages and its 800 illustrations the author will introduce you in a clear and effective way in the aspects that will be the basis for all the knowledge you will acquire later. This is one of my favorite books =).
You can take a look at it using google books and if you want to get your own, at Amazon you will find it for approximately 30 euros.
2. The Photographer’s Eye – Michael Freeman
This book is truly a masterpiece that will help you understand what to do with your camera once you have it in your hands.
With this manual you will be able to take control of each of your photographs because, in a very didactic way, it addresses the principles of composition and design through various examples and diagrams that will help you understand each subject very easily. Have you ever wondered why some photographs are more attractive than others? Reading this book you will understand not only why, but also how.
Thanks to this book and the practical guides that expand on it, you will be able to develop your skills to the maximum to make your photographs incredible.
You can purchase your copy at Amazon for only 24 euros.
3. The Camera Lucida – Roland Barthes
The Camera Lucida is a different photography book than the two manuals I mentioned above, in fact, it is probably a book without equal. That is why I recommend it to you.
With this work you will be able to delve into the photography “that is not seen” that is to say, in its messages, expressions and the way in which these transmit sensations to turn them into a singular photography that produces desires in the viewers.
This work seeks to find meaning in photography beyond the techniques to produce them. If you want to write your own photographs, this is the book for you.
4. The fundamentals of photography. High Quality Photography
Most likely Mellado is an author that, if you don’t already have him, you have seen him, you are familiar with him, or you have read one of his books.
Having any of his publications is indispensable for anyone who wants to learn photography in a self-taught way. With this work with exercises at the end, very didactic and clear, full of practical tips and useful information, you will be able to go much further than you imagine.
In this blog, we have dedicated, to this day, the review of this title and three others. You can take a look at them before deciding for one or the other 🙂
On Amazon you can find it for approximately 53 euros.
5. People Photography – Michael Gnade
If I had to choose a book to take with me everywhere I go, it would probably be this one =)
Thanks to this book you will be able to get inside the thoughts of a photographer at the moment of taking his shots, the reason for the choice of the elements, their arrangement in the frame and the technical equipment necessary to take them.
This book is really a relic since it was edited in 1978 but, beyond the change of technology, it is completely current.
The fundamental contribution that you will find in this book is, without a doubt, the inspiration, since the photographs that the author chose to illustrate each one of the techniques of photography of people that he used, are really spectacular. In addition, it has another detail, each photograph is accompanied not only by a brilliant explanation but also by diagrams that will help you understand the reason for the choice of composition in each one of them.
It is really difficult to get your hands on one of these copies, you will most likely find it second hand, sometimes there are copies available on Amazon at low prices.
6. The Secrets of Photographic Exposure – Bryan Peterson
The primordial raw material of every photograph, light, must not only be molded but also captured.
This book will allow you, in a simple and clear way, to understand all the secrets of photographic exposure through the compression of its three key factors: shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity.
With this book, perform correct metering and exposure of your photographs freeing you once and for all from automatic or semi-automatic modes. After all, it is you who must make the decisions, not your camera.
You can get your copy of this book for approx. 23 euros on Amazon.
7. On Photography – Susan Sontag
This essay moves away from everything you can find in the vast majority of photography books you may come across. This work delves into the deepest corners of this wonderful art: its role as a means of ideological communication.
Although it was published in 1975, all the questions and reflections it raises about photography are still and will continue to be valid for a long time to come, since they concern art itself, beyond the medium through which it is expressed.
You will find in this work very interesting reflections on the role of photography in today’s society as an artistic discipline that will stimulate you to investigate, experiment and reflect not only on how to carry out photography, but art itself.
For only 10 euros you can take a journey into the depths of photographic art. Are you ready?
8. The Photographer’s Vision: Understanding and Appreciating Good Photography – Michael Freeman
By now you’ve probably figured out that I’m really a fan of Michael Freeman, and once you read some of his work, I’m sure you will be too.
Analyzing and understanding the messages in a photograph is not as easy as you might imagine, so this book comes to give you a hand with that.
Through this book you will be able to understand the complicated photographic medium and identify those factors that make a photograph successful.
By analyzing the works of the great masters of photography, you will learn how to observe, analyze and understand their work, as well as transfer all that knowledge to your own projects.
This book is not only to read and enjoy but also to reflect and discuss all the opinions that photographs awaken in each of us.
You can purchase a copy of this book by about 23 euros.
9. Read this book if you want to take good photographs – Henry Carrol
If you are looking for a book that, in a simple way, introduces you to all the technical concepts of photography but without falling into countless tedious technicalities, this is the book for you.
This book is far from being a manual, so its reading and comprehension is ideal if you are looking for relaxed photographic reading material, that is to say, that you should not study it but rather, enjoy reading it.
If the typical manuals, even some of the ones I’ve recommended here, intimidate you, starting by reading this book will be a great help.
It will let you learn the basics of photography but through more than 50 photographs and case studies taken from the great masters of classic photography of the stature of Henry Cartier Bresson, to incorporate the knowledge as you read.
Another good news: lacking all the technicalities of this type of work, you do not need to have a digital SLR camera because the concepts in this book are applicable to any type of photographer, whatever the camera you have in your hands.
Where to buy it? You can get your copy on Amazon for only 12 euros.
10. The art of composition – Fran Nieto
As its cover indicates, composition is the language of art, so if you want to make your photographs speak for you, you can’t leave it out of your list of best photography books that I have to have..
From our way of looking to the fundamentals of composition, the resources at our disposal or our own attitude, everything is analyzed in this magnificent work on composition.
If you want to learn composition from one of the best, this book is begging for a place in your bookshelf. And, if you want to know it in depth, you can take a look at this article, since this book was one of our literary recommendations.
You can find it for about 26 Euros on Amazon.
11. The Personal Photographic Project – Rosa Isabel Vázquez
If you are thinking of undertaking your own photographic project and don’t know where to start, you can’t miss this spectacular book that will take you into the complex and fascinating path involved in doing so.
The author will accompany you through the different stages that you will encounter: from the search for the initial idea and research, the taking of the image or editing, the presentation format of the photograph and even the editing.
Although there is no single way to go through the life of a professional photographer, this book will guide you so that you don’t get lost along the way.
You will be able to get your own road map to professionalism by. 28 euros on Amazon.
In order to achieve true knowledge in this beautiful art that is photography, you need to combine two elements: information and experience. If you only acquire information and do not put it into practice, you will not have really incorporated it and, at the same time, to be able to polish the techniques through practice and gain experience, you need to acquire the knowledge that will allow you to have control over your work.
That is why, if you do not want all the pages of the books that I have just recommended to you to remain blank, as you acquire all the information, put it into practice. In this way you will transform information and experience into real knowledge.
Knowledge does not take up space.
If you’ve read any of them or have any other books to recommend that you think should be on a list of the best photography books, please be sure to do so in the comments! We can’t include them all that we think in the article, but the list of comments can be as long as you want =) And don’t forget to share this article!