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35 Best Photography Books to Improve Your Skills

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Can’t find reliable content on the internet? Then you should try reading photography books from famous professionals!

We have a great list of best-sellers that will help you become a better photographer.

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Basics of Photography Books

Learning how to take pictures requires a strong foundation. If you struggle with these areas, read publications on the basics of photography. I assure you that the speed at which you learn will only increase.

Our list of how-to books on photography will ensure you learn exactly how to use your gear. It includes how to use camera settings and technical knowledge properly.

Also, you can learn from them a little bit about the history of photography.

1. Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs – Henry Carroll 

Looking for the best photography how-to books for beginners? Then this is worth checking out. It has practical guides, easy-to-read text, and simple, playful language. So it’s easy to follow for the beginner.

Oh, and did we tell you that the book includes tips from 50 famous photographers? Now, you can’t go wrong with that!

The cover of 'Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs' book by Henry Carroll 

2. The Digital Photography Book: Part 1 – Scott Kelby

This book from Scott Kelby is the number 1 best-selling digital photography book ever.

It has been translated into dozens of languages, and for a good reason. You can find everything in this book, you would need for throwing yourself into photography.

This award-winning book is going to be a great company for you. You are going to take it from your shelf again and again to reread parts.The cover of 'The Digital Photography Book: Part 1' by Scott Kelby

3. Complete Digital Photography – Ben Long

If you like to go deep into the fine details of the craft, then this book is for you. Written by photographer Ben Long, It teaches you all the basics of photography.

This book shows you everything from the mechanics of a camera to post-processing. It covers both the technical aspects and the art of taking photos. With the level of detail and the number of topics this book covers, you won’t even need Google.

The cover of 'Complete Digital Photography ' book by Ben Long

4. Complete Guide to Digital Photography – Ian Farrell

This is one of the most comprehensive books on digital photography. It includes shooting, post-production, and finally, printing. It will help you master the theory and technical skills required of a photographer.

This complete package comes in an easy-to-understand format. It also includes a bonus chapter to help you choose the right digital camera. That’s quite helpful especially since buying your first DSLR can be quite intimidating.

The cover of 'Complete Guide to Digital Photography' book by Ian Farrell

5. Langford’s Basic Photography: The guide for serious photographers – Michael Langford

This photography book is for people who want to pursue photography as a career.

What makes this publication valuable is that it helps you choose the best camera and lens for your work. It even offers useful suggestions on the equipment you need for great lighting. Of course, it also teaches you skills such as framing and measuring exposure.

Apart from the technical aspects, it also teaches you how to edit and organise your images. It even teaches you how to print, finish, and present your photographs. This is one of the best books of photography to help you jump start your professional work.

Front cover of the 'Langford's Basic Photography: The guide for serious photographers' by Michael Langford

6. LIFE Guide to Digital Photography – Joe McNally

Learn from one of the best photo books photography on the market. Its subtitle, ‘Everything You Need to Shoot Like the Pros’ pretty much sums it all up.

Joe explains how to take advantage of what your camera does best. He also helps you understand when it is wise to outthink your camera and push it to its limits.

What I found useful was the short caption under each photo. It shows you the settings it took to create each image. It’s always beneficial to know which settings he uses to recreate breathtaking photos.

The cover of 'LIFE Guide to Digital Photography' book by Joe McNally

7. Understanding Exposure (Fourth Edition) – Bryan Peterson

With more than 350,000 copies sold, this is one of the most popular books in Photography. It demystifies the complex concepts of exposure for countless photographers.

This photography book keeps Bryan Peterson’s trademark easy-to-understand style. Its best section includes how to achieve successful exposures in challenging situations.

In this photography book, you’ll also find information on white balance, flash, and HDR. Sure these topics may seem a bit advanced, but Peterson makes it all easy to understand.

Always take this along with you for better photos anytime, anywhere, and with any camera.

The front cover of 'Understanding Exposure (Fourth Edition)' book by Bryan Peterson

8. Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital – Todd Gustavson

I found this photography book very fascinating. It’s a history not of iconic images but, instead, of the machines that made them possible.

This photography book discusses the most significant developments in photography technology throughout history. Some of the best features include the earliest wet plate cameras and NASA’s moon cameras.

This wonderful book also gives glimpses into the personalities who developed cameras. And they’re just as interesting as the devices they built.

The cover of 'Camera: A History of Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital' best photography books by Todd Gustavson

9. The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression – Bruce Barnbaum

Bruce Barnbaum’s book was originally published in 1994 and first revised in 2010. Now it has parts for digital photography too.

It features 200 black and white and colour photographs, accompanied by clear and readable texts.

It represents more the artistic and conceptual side of photography.

The front cover of 'The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression' best photography books by Bruce Barnbaum

10. Photography: A Cultural History – Mary Marien Warner

A book with 642 illustrations on almost 600 pages. It shows how photography has altered our perception of our world.

This book is easy to understand as it doesn’t require technical knowledge.

Its aim is to educate and inform about photography. It integrates the information about photography and photographers into their historical and cultural contexts.

front cover of 'Photography: A Cultural History' book by Mary Marien Warner

11. On Photography – Susan Sontag

A book about photography without images. Susan Sontag’s book was first published in 1977 and remained an evergreen book for photographers.

It is one of the most-read books about photography. On Photography contains essays about the changing meaning of photography and photographs.

She examines the role photography is playing in different circumstances. But most importantly, the impact of photography on us, and the world.

A must-read for everyone with a deep interest in photography.

On Photography - Susan Sontag book cover

Best Books on Photography Composition & Technique

Once you know what you’re doing, this is the next step is to hone those skills. The secret is to learn what makes photos great. Then make it your goal to replicate that in your photo.

I’ve learned a lot from the books on this list. What these publications teach can be a lot of information to take in at once. But when you master the techniques, your photos will improve dramatically.

12. Extraordinary Everyday Photography – Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring

Photography is not just taking pictures of staged portraits and exotic travel destinations. Photography is looking at simple things with a new perspective.

This book on photography teaches you to capture the unexpected in the mundane. It can be your local park or the street where you live.

Rather than teach photography techniques, the photo book inspires photographers. It includes examples from DSLRs and smartphone cameras. It shows that good Photography doesn’t depend on gear or location. Instead, it depends on the photographer’s eye.

Extraordinary Everyday Photography - Brenda Tharp and Jed Manwaring

13. The Landscape Photography Book: The Step-by-Step Techniques You Need to Capture Breathtaking Landscape Photos Like the Pros- Scott Kelby

Ladies and gentlemen, another book from the award-winning Scott Kelby.

If you are planning to start shooting landscape images, this is the book for you. But you don’t have to be a beginner to find new ideas and tips in this.

The long and short of it, read this if you would like to improve your landscape photography.

The Landscape Photography Book: The Step-by-Step Techniques You Need to Capture Breathtaking Landscape Photos Like the Pros- Scott Kelby

14. Studio Anywhere: A Photographer’s Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations – Nick Fancher

It can often be overwhelming to find an excellent spot to shoot. For photographers are unlucky picking the perfect locations, this book is a must-read.

Nick shows how to use any less-than-ideal location and still get amazing portraits. He offers practical help on how to create a portfolio without a dedicated studio space.

It’s perfect for anyone who needs help with conceptualising shoots with minimal equipment.

Studio Anywhere: A Photographer's Guide to Shooting in Unconventional Locations - Nick Fancher

15. One Face 50 Ways: The Portrait Photography Idea Book – Imogen Dyer and Mark Wilkinson

This is a fabulous photography book that dives into the art of taking portraits.

The photographer shows us how to make 50 different types of shots of the same model. It’s a practical guide that takes advantage of simple camera techniques.

But do you know what makes this book even more indispensable? It uses budget-friendly items from your wardrobe to create a wide variety of shots.

The front cover of 'One Face 50 Ways: The Portrait Photography Idea Book' by Imogen Dyer and Mark Wilkinson

16. The Photographer’s Eye – Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman is on this list twice and with good reason: I love the way he writes.

Design is the most critical factor in creating a successful photograph. It helps you work on your ability to see the potential for a strong picture. Then organise the graphic elements into a productive, compelling composition.

I think this one of the must-read photography books for beginners. Why? Because early on, it trains you to develop your visual style. And that’s quite unique as compared to the rest of the publications on this list.

The cover of 'The Photographer's Eye' best photography books by Michael Freeman

17. The Photographer’s Mind – Michael Freeman

The nature of photography includes the demand to intrigue the viewer continually.

This book aims to answer the question, “what makes a photograph great?” It explores how top photographers achieve this goal,  time, and time again.

This book will provide you invaluable knowledge you can’t learn from practical guides. For instance, it helps you avoid clichés on the cyclical nature of fashion, style, mannerism, and light. It even shows you how to handle the unexpected.

The Photographer's Mind book cover by Michael Freeman

18. The Moment it Clicks: Photography Secrets From One of the World’s Top Shooters – Joe McNally

In this book, Joe illustrates the different techniques he employed throughout his career. I’m sure you’ll recognise many of his photos from magazine covers.

You’ll gain insight into the story of how each shot was taken, including which equipment he used.

On top of this, you’ll also gain useful knowledge about the challenges with each type of project. This photography book is excellent if you are looking to set up a similar shot of your own.

The Moment it Clicks: Photography Secrets From One of the World's Top Shooters - Joe McNally

19. Creative Black and White – Harold Davis

This is one of the best black-and-white photography books ever published.

Black-and-white photography poses unique challenges. It makes the point that contrast, lighting, and composition are crucial without colour.

Renowned photographer Harold Davis explains these elements in this book. He demonstrates the basic rules of black and white photography. But more than that, he also shows you when and how to break them.

The cover of 'Creative Black and White' photography book by Harold Davis

Best Photography Lighting Books

Lighting is an intrinsic component of photography. It can take years to master. It’s much longer than getting to grips with other aspects, like exposure settings. But you can always make this process faster by learning from the pros.

Amateurs rarely achieve great lighting. But learning techniques from these great photography books already makes you better.

20. Speedliter’s Handbook – Syl Arena

This book is mainly for Canon users, but it is still useful for people who use other cameras. Most of the information can cross over to other brands.

For those new to flash photography, this is an excellent book for them. Using clear language, this is also ideal for anyone who has given up learning out of frustration.

Arena teaches you anything from creating a classical portrait or shooting an event. Whatever it is, this photography book will show you how.

Speedliter's Handbook - Syl Arena

21. The Hot Shoe Diaries – Joe McNally

In this photography book, Joe shares his lighting solutions for a ton of beautiful images.

Joe’s photographs are quite inspirational. He uses flash all the time when shooting his subjects.

Using Nikon Speedlights, Joe lets you in on his uncensored thought process. He demonstrates how he makes his pictures with these small flashes.

The cover of The Hot Shoe Diaries - Joe McNally

Best Niche Photography Books

A lot of publications focus too much on the most popular genres in Photography. But what if you’re into a specific style such as food or still life photography? Are there any options for you out there?

The answer is yes and there are a lot of them! For this article, we are only covering five. But even if you don’t practice the niche topics on this list, you still should consider reading them. Who knows, you might just end up liking it. Or, if anything, you might just learn a thing or two which you can apply to your work.

22. The Enthusiast’s Guide to Travel Photography: 55 Photographic Principles You Need to Know- Jordana Wright

This is the best book to pick up before you go on your next backpacking trip.

Travel photography is perhaps one of the most challenging genres in Photography. A travel photographer needs to know how to photograph food as they know how to take landscapes.

Thankfully, this publication provides you everything you may need while trotting the globe. Of course, it includes the usual lessons on architecture and urban photography. But it also includes tips on taking portraits of strangers and nighttime landscapes.

The cover of the Enthusiast's Guide to Travel Photography: 55 Photographic Principles You Need to Know- Jordana Wright

23. Still Life in Photography – Paul Martineau

Still Life in Photography isn’t necessarily a collection of tutorials. Instead, it’s a compendium of the works of some of the best still life photographers.

The photos come from the J Paul Getty Museum, so the collection feels limited in a sense. But regardless, the samples you see here are enough to inspire you to create masterpieces of your own.

Photographers in this book include Edward Weston, Irving Penn, and Roger Fenton. They’re big names with incredible works that will get your attention!

Still Life in Photography - Paul Martineau

24. The Film Photography Handbook: Rediscovering Photography in 35mm, Medium, and Large Format – Monika Andrae & Chris Marquardt

Whether you’re a film photography veteran or a beginner, this book needs to be in your shelf.

As the title says, this is the ultimate handbook for film photography. It has all the information you may need from loading film to printing it.

What makes this invaluable is that it includes digital technology in the mix. Where else can you find a book that shows you how to digitize your film? Or use your smartphone as a light meter?

The Film Photography Handbook: Rediscovering Photography in 35mm, Medium, and Large Format - Monika Andrae & Chris Marquardt

25. That Photo Makes Me Hungry: Photographing Food for Fun & Profit – Andrew Scrivani

Food photography is one of the best things you can do at home, even without a studio. But it’s never as easy as placing a plate on a table and taking a photo of it.

This book will help you understand how to approach this genre in a more calculated manner. Apart from teaching you the basics, it also shows you the business side of food photography.

It also helps a lot that the author of this book is a veteran New York Times photographer. Reading about his experience will inspire you to turn your hobby into a career.

That Photo Makes Me Hungry: Photographing Food for Fun & Profit - Andrew Scrivani

26. Capture Your Style: Transform Your Instagram Images, Showcase Your Life, and Build the Ultimate Platform – Aimee Song with Diane Von Furstenburg

Instagram evolves so fast that any book written about it would be useless by now. But social media star Aimee Song’s Capture Your Style is definitely an outlier.

The book was published in 2016 to massive fanfare. Years later, it remains one of the authoritative publications on Instagram.

Song teaches you the basics of taking pictures for Instagram. But she also shows you how to gain followers and become Insta-famous.

Sure, there are tons of new features on Instagram that you can’t find in this old book. But the main tenets of photography for social media are still there and will remain so for years. Because in the end, taking click-worthy photos is never going to be out of fashion.

Capture Your Style: Transform Your Instagram Images, Showcase Your Life, and Build the Ultimate Platform - Aimee Song with Diane Von Furstenburg

Best Books on Photographers

You can learn a lot by looking at other people’s photos. It’s what makes these books on photography as crucial as regular textbooks.

It’s hard to choose any one particular photographer to add to this list. I felt I had to disregard 100 photographers for everyone I included.

The photographers below are perhaps some of my ultimate idols in photography. But they are by no means the only ones I look up to.

27. Decade – Aemmon McCabe

A recent birthday present, I’ve been picking this up daily ever since. It’s not difficult to understand why this is one of the best photo books around.

It’s a collection of famous photos of memorable events from the past ten years. Each image has a brief description that serves as a history lesson.

It jogs your memory and reminds you of what’s going on in the world. It’s a good source of inspiration. But it’s also a great coffee table book or conversation piece.

Decade - Aemmon McCabe

28. The Americans – Robert Frank

This is a fantastic collection of photos from Robert Frank shot from 1955-1956. It is hard to believe they came from one photographer’s viewfinder. It covers racial tension, glamour, and, Americans’ love for cars. It might be because Frank himself had a fondness for the road.

This book was quite controversial when it was published, and it redefined the way we think about photo books.

This book is a great reminder of America’s past with some fantastic images. This famous photographer’s inspirational work deserves to be on your bookshelf.

'The Americans' book cover by Robert Frank

29. National Geographic Image Collection

Behind this title lies one of the most compelling graphic resources on Earth. I present The National Geographic Image Collection.

It’s an archive from the earliest photographs from the late 19th century to today. It includes both iconic and never-before-seen images from around the world.

Of course, we already know that this book represents thousands of species. But it also showcases terrific human achievements in exploration, adventure, and science.

They place themselves in a historical, artistic, technical, and journalistic context.

The cover of 'National Geographic Image Collection' photography book

30. Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs – Ansel Adams

This book has some of the best black and white photography I’ve ever seen.

Each of Adams’ 40 photographs presented here accompanies an engaging narrative. The text explores the technical and aesthetic problems of each scene he photographed.

As far as famous photographers go, Ansel Adams is at the top of the list. So grab a copy and understand what makes this one of the best photography books.

The cover of 'Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs' book by Ansel Adams

31. The Platinum Anniversary Collection: 70 Years of Extraordinary Photography – LiFE

This is one of the best photography books out there with over 70 years of great images. They all come from one of the most influential publications of the 20th century.

Like Decade and National Geographic, LiFE presents history in photos. It highlights the most famous and beautiful pictures from the magazine’s history. It has some of the best Photography you will see.

The Platinum Anniversary Collection: 70 Years of Extraordinary Photography - LiFE

32. Our World Now 6: Reuters

If you’re into journalism, then this is the book for you. It has more than 350 compelling photographs that capture some of the most crucial moments in history.

Our World Now has four sections. The photos offer a fresh take on the year’s most memorable events.

Each section discusses politics, commerce, conflict, the environment, disasters, and festivities. But it also represents entertainment, celebrity, and lifestyle.

The front cover of 'Our World Now 6: Reuters' photography book

Best Post-Processing Photography Books

When you’ve been out taking photos all day, there are always going to be a few that need extra work. If you’re shooting in RAW, there’s going to be a lot.

Below are the best books on the three most popular post-processing software.

33. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book – Scott Kelby

The above mentioned Scott Kelby is an American photographer and the publisher of many books. He is an avid user and educator of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

Here, Scott did his most significant update ever in this book. He shares all of his latest techniques, insights, and invaluable tips for Lightroom. His award-winning, step-by-step, plain-English style makes learning Lightroom easy and fun.

He shares his settings and time-tested techniques. It consists of proven methods of learning Lightroom. So, you can begin using it like a pro from the start.

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book - Scott Kelby

34. Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom –  Bruce Fraser

Image sharpening is one of the most crucial skills in post-processing. This photography book looks at image sharpening across three different software.

This book shows you ways to sharpen images in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and Camera Raw. It’s ideal for anyone using any of these programs, or even if you have all three.Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, Camera Raw, and Lightroom -  Bruce Fraser

35. The Adobe Photoshop CC Book –  Andrew Faulkner & Conrad Chavez

For beginners, Adobe Photoshop is stressful and challenging to learn. Post-production software has a very steep learning curve. Thankfully, Andrew Faulkner and Conrad Chavez created The Adobe Photoshop CC Book.

If easy-to-understand text is the best way for you to learn, this is the book for you. There are images alongside every technique and feature.

This great photography book will help you find the right place for your mouse-clicks.

The cover of 'The Adobe Photoshop CC Book' by Andrew Faulkner & Conrad Chavez

Bonus – Your Camera Manual!

There is so much information in there, not just irrelevant facts specific to your camera.

The day I got my first DSLR, I got out the manual and began reading. I must have read it while playing with my camera for two weeks.

It always frustrates me when friends don’t know how to do something on their camera. That’s the one thing holding them back. If they knew how to work their cameras, they’d be much better photographers.

A camera on a book


These days, you can find everything you need about photography online. But nothing compares to flipping the pages and viewing printed pictures. So go ahead, pick up a book, and enjoy reading it.

Have I missed one of your favourites? Leave a comment to let us know what you think is worth reading!

For the best start to your photography, check out our Photography for Beginners course! 

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