Best Photography Books: Your Guide to Photography



One of the great things about the art of photography is that if you want to get involved in it, it can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want it to be. You can get a basic, fast camera or invest in high-end professional gear and the best photography books. And if you care more about the end product than the process, you can study the composition, the technique, and the story… or you can just enjoy a pretty picture. It is an egalitarian art form in many ways, and it transcends language, place and background.

So if you’re looking to nurture someone’s interests or try to spark a new one, a photography book can be a great gift, whether it’s a collection of a photographer’s work. famous, a like-minded photography-themed book, or even an instruction manual. to inspire a budding hobbyist, there is a wide range of books to choose from. Here are our suggestions for the best tabletop photography books.

The big picture on photography books

The basic concepts behind photography go back centuries. The ancestors of the still camera, both the camera obscura and the pinhole camera, date back to the ancient Greeks and Chinese. Chinese philosopher Mozi, who lived during the Han Dynasty (between 468 and 391 BC) on a surface opposite the opening, where the resulting image is upside down. Camera obscura, a term coined in the 16th century, makes also reference to a box, a tent or a room fitted out for such projections.

But in the 17th century, German author Johann Zahn, an expert on light, wrote extensively on the camera obscura, magic lantern, telescopes and lenses. In 1685 he came up with a design for the first portable SLR camera, but it would take another 150 years before his invention became reality.

Photographic societies – whose members were both professional and amateur – were formed in the mid-nineteenth century, giving rise to the consideration of photography as an aesthetic medium. In 1853, the Photographic Society, mother of the current Royal Photographic Society, was created in London and the following year the Société Française de Photographie was founded in Paris. Towards the end of the 19th century, similar societies began to form in other countries as well. Along with these organizations, journals promoting photography as an art have also appeared. Photography is sort of a self-documenting story, so if you’re looking for tabletop books, the best photo books have plenty of options.

Related: Are you a beginner? Read our pick of the best digital SLRs for beginners

Inspire someone in a flash with a photography book

Regardless of the art form in question – painting, sculpture, cinema, etc. – those who really love him always come back to appreciate the work of great masters or even forgotten by the medium. When it comes to photography, the greats list is long, distinguished, and incredibly diverse, so it’s hard to say that there is a definitive book that “everyone” needs to have.

That said, there are a few things that you can research to narrow down your search for the best photo books. For example, does the book focus entirely on the photos themselves? Is it more of a biography with intermittent photos? Is it a celebration of the work of a particular artist, or a collection of an era, movement or peer group? Much of the decision making depends on who you are purchasing the book for and their interests, so think carefully about what might resonate best with them when selecting the best books on photography.

Best photography books for inspiration: Behind the Camera: The Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers

A masterful point of view

Part collection of photographs, part instruction guide, all the fun. Paul Lowe

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Showcasing the work of great photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Joel Meyerowitz, Nan Goldin, Weegee, Man Ray, Robert Capa and others, this book not only celebrates their creative work, but distills the lessons of each piece in which photography budding can work. his practice. Part table book, part manual, it is an excellent starting point or return to find ideas.

Seek and you will have to find your sights

There are, of course, those instances where someone in your life may be looking for more than inspiration. They may be looking to put their enthusiasm into practice and may want a more concrete tactics book that will give them tips, tricks, and instructions. For people who want to learn photography, you will need to take into account their level of familiarity, their likelihood of investing heavily in equipment, and whether they are just looking to improve their daily shots or pursue something more professional or artistic. .

Best photography books for beginners: Read this if you want to take great photos of people

A cover book with the inscription of the title and the name of the author in capitals.

Get started in the blink of an eye

A classic book of photography tips, tricks and lessons. Henri carroll

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The title says it all. Focusing on portrait photography and drawing on the works of masters like Richard Avedon, William Klein, Cindy Sherman and others, the book speaks clearly about the art form, with an emphasis on de real take-out for those looking to learn photography.

Work tips for (food photography)

While anyone can (and everyone apparently does) just take an Instagram photo of their lunch, there is quite a professional discipline around food photography. If you’re looking for the best photo books to inspire a budding food visual artist, you can find options that are all about making food as amazing as possible. This could be of great help to someone who may be looking to start their own online business, or do more to promote their existing restaurant, or just as a way to bust those shared recipes.

The best food photography advice books will have plenty of examples, but also tactical tips and techniques so that they can be used as a reference time and time again. Soon, they’ll have mastered the perfect, mouth-watering syrup, a refreshing lemon splash, and a plate of steaming veggies.

Best Food Photography Books: The Food Stylist’s Manual

The Food Stylist's Handbook cover with a brown background and a plate of cooked salmon in the middle.

Images good enough to eat

A practical guide to making food as delicious as possible. Denise Vivaldo, Cindie Flannigan

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As the title suggests, this is a food photography tips manual designed to give the reader practical tips for taking delicious pictures. Taking advice from well-known photographers in the advertising and cooking worlds, “The Food Stylist’s Handbook: Hundreds of Media Style Tips, Tricks and Secrets for Chefs, Artists, Bloggers, and Food Lovers” is something that a food photographer will remember over and over again as he perfects his craft.

You have inexpensive photo expertise in your pocket

Fortunately, an interest in photography no longer has to be a prohibitively expensive endeavor. Thanks to high-resolution digital cameras on smartphones, a person can dabble and find their eye without having to invest a ton of film, development costs and equipment. There is also more room for trial and error, as bad plans can be easily removed or even changed as you go.

Access to information and advice is just as easy to find, with many resources available that are neither expensive nor restrictive. You can find plenty of options in the $ 20 range if you are looking for an inspirational gift for a new photographer.

Best Low Budget Photography Books: Complete course in digital photography

Cover of complete digital photography course book with colorful and different images.

Don’t just phone

A comprehensive manual on digital photography. David taylor

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At around $ 20, the “Complete Digital Photography Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks” has a lot of useful information for a reasonable investment. The best part is that it’s aimed at the digital photographer (obviously) so anyone with a smartphone can pick it up and start applying techniques without having to acquire new gear. A great, reasonably priced starting point among the best photography books.


Q: What type of photography is most in demand?

Portrait and family photography is probably the most common type of freelance photography. This type of photography is constantly in demand, as families grow and change over the course of the year – think of births, milestones (graduation, etc.) and other excuses to take a portrait over and over again. formal family.

Q: Who is the world’s # 1 photographer?

It’s a subjective question, but many agree that British photographer Jimmy Nelson is one of the most popular and in-demand photographers in the world right now. If you’re just talking about name recognition, most people suggest Ansel Adams is the most recognizable in the business.

Q: How to start photography?

The easiest way is to know the inside and outside of the equipment (digital vs. film cameras, for example), to watch tutorials on the subjects that interest you the most (portrait photography vs nature photography, for example) , then go out and do some simple trial and error. Oh, and grab some of the best photography books!

Related: Here’s a list of even more books every photographer should own

The final word on choosing the best photography books

Photography is a highly regarded art form, and thanks to digital technology, it has become more and more accessible to more people. Budding photographers have a much easier way to test the waters and find their style without the burden of expensive film development costs or equipment. There are also overwhelming resources both online and in books to guide them as they learn photography, so grab one of the best tabletop books from our selection and start their journey.


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