The Best Photography Books

I am a big fan of reading and using books as a reference and in this post I present you with 40 of the best photography books available today.

There are thousands of photography books at very reasonable prices and deciding which one (or two) would solve your problem can be frustrating – they all look so darn interesting and good.

My aim here is to make things easy for you and refer you to books I know are the top of their class.

Take a look at the great books I have listed here – hopefully one or two will be exactly what you are after.


Best Digital Photography Books

Strange heading considering all the books listed on this page refer to digital photography.

This first section contains four books that are fantastic as tutorials and excellent reference books for the future.

How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

Author: Tony Northrup (aka “Mr. Nikon”)
Level: Beginner and Intermediate
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

Tony Northrup has a very pleasant teaching style that is easy to understand – he doesn’t use highly technical terms and always has his audience’s level of knowledge at the forefront of his mind. No heavy technical detail here – simple English is what it is all about.

The bonus with the 230 plus pages of “How To Create Stunning Digital Photography” is that it comes with over 3 hours of video tutorials and a number of lessons.

You will immediately see the impact of his knowledge and teachings with your own photos as you work your way through the book.

A top seller that is not only a great teaching manual but also an excellent reference to have. You will find yourself referring back to it often in years to come.

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Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Author: Scott Kelby
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

A box-set of 5 for less than the price of taking a class from a Master Photographer and trainer!

There’s a lot of information in this box-set that is broken down into a range of categories to suit everyone. Feel free to jump around from portraits to recommended gear for macro for example. Most genres are covered and you won’t want for information on any of them.

It does help if you understand the exposure triangle – the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, but even if you don’t you will soon come to terms with it as you work through the set.

Scott’s photos include settings used  making it easy for your to replicate his images.

Be warned – Scott uses humour throughout his teachings which some people find irritating while other’s love it.  If you’re one of the former it is well worth ignoring the humour because the information is seriously good.

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Digital Photography: A Basic Manual

Author: Henry Horenstein and Allison Carroll
Level: Beginner
Customer Ratings: 4.6/5 (92%)

Henry Horenstein is a renowned professional photographer and author of photography tutorial books.  He has been teaching and writing about photography for over 25 years.

This book is an excellent reference for the beginner digital photography covering and explaining all the basics of digital photography.

Subjects covered include:

  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture settings and depth of field
  • ISO ratings
  • Focal lengths
  • Digital filing system – ask most photographers and they will tell you their image filing system needs to be revamped because they started off on the wrong foot. Do it right the first time with this book

While clearly aimed at the beginner digital photographer it is another book that you will refer to many times over the years to come.

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Mastering Digital Cameras: An Illustrated Guidebook for Absolute Beginners (Digital Photography 101) (Volume 1)

Author: Al Judge
Level: Beginner 
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

Al Judge has had a varied, very interesting and full filling career.  Having retired he spends his days following his passion – photography and teaching photography.

This is a great book that teaches the basics in plain language and one in which the author does not assume you speak “photography”.

Like the books mentioned above he covers aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc.

The book will appeal particularly to Canon users as he is well versed in them – his knowledge of Nikon and other brands is not so good.

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Best Books for The Beginner Photographer

The following four books are a continuation of the above and are all aimed at the beginner.

However they don’t stop there because once you master the basics they naturally lead to more advanced tips and techniques.

You’re going to love these books – you have tough choices to make!

Digital Photography Complete Course: Learn Everything You Need to Know in 20 Weeks

Author: David Taylor
Level: From Beginner to Advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

This is a complete course that includes tutorials, step by step demonstrations, practical assignments and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Starting from the very basics of digital photography this book will take you to more complex issues in a progression that is easy to understand. 

It covers troublesome issues that you will likely face as a photographer – such as high contrast lighting, shooting into the sun, exposing detail in dark shadows and a myriad of other photographic tips and tricks.

Beautifully designed and printed this is a reference and tutorial that you will refer to often.

In 20 weeks you will notice a remarkable improvement in your photography which would normally take you years to achieve.

Customers that bought this are all extremely happy with their results – 82% of customers have given it a 5 star rating and it is one of Amazon’s top sellers.

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Understanding Exposure, Fourth Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Author: Bryan Peterson
Level: Beginner through to Advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

Do you remember the days when you believed that a bright sunny day was the best time to take photos?  I do and oh what a disaster bright lit sunny days can be with the harsh shadows they produce.

“Understanding Exposure” is a book that every photographer should have and every beginner should make the effort to understand in order to get off on the right foot.

This book explains the exposure triangle and the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  In other words how to utilise the light that is in front of you with the tools at hand.

The complete novice might find it a bit difficult at first but it is well worth working through until you understand it. There’s quite a lot of theory and not much practical application – but if you don’t understand the theory the application is hard to apply.

With a better understanding of exposure you can’t help but improve your photos.

There is also a section on everything you need to know about filters and flash to help you understand when and how to use them.

Highly recommended reading.

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Getting Started in Photography: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Taking Great Pictures 

Author: Jim Hamel
Level:  Beginner
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

This is a 170 page book written in ver plain and easily understandable English.

It begins with the very basics – including selecting the right equipment.  However that may be wasted on some because by the time you buy a book you probably have your camera. 

But that aside this shows you how to take control of your camera and get the best out of it. You will learn:

  • How to set up your camera for different scenarios
  • Mastering the exposure 
  • Composing and creating dramatic and eye catching images
  • How to take sharp photos
  • How to take story telling photos that would formally have been snapshots

The book covers in camera processing for those that haven’t got (or couldn’t be bothered with) a post processing program like LightRoom or PhotoShop.

The book comes with free access to videos to build on the foundations learned here.

A great book for those who want just the basics in a simple and easy to understand format.

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Photography Demystified: Your Guide to Gaining Creative Control and Taking Amazing Photographs!

Author:  David McKay
Level: Beginner (wanting to get off Auto mode)
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

When you started out with your new-flash-digital-adult camera you were no doubt told to learn to shoot in one of the manual modes! I remember thinking “Why? My camera takes perfectly good pictures in Auto – in fact they are great”

Well the truth is they could definitely be a whole lot better if you drive the camera – rather than have it tell you what to do.  It is a machine after all and, although it does a great job, it does not have a brain.

And then when you take your camera off auto  you may feel like you don’t have a brain either with all those menu options, buttons, settings, modes etc.  – what exactly does it all mean? 

At first it is a complete mystery and this tutorial with the practical applications, tutorials and videos will provide you with the tools to “get out of auto by totally demystifying the whole subject.

Take those photos you see in your mind before you press the shutter.

Over 12,000 happy students can’t all be wrong.

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Best Portrait Photography Books

This is a hugely popular genre – we all love taking photos of our family, our friend and other people.

It’s my favourite genre so I am pretty passionate about books on the subject – I think i have about 23 portrait photography books!

With that level of enthusiasm I had to curb myself and stick to 4 books in this category for you to enjoy.

Mastering Portrait Photography

Author: Paul Wilkinson and Sarah Plater
Level: Beginners portrait photographers
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

If you want to get into portrait photography this is the book for you.

It’s another great book that is to understand and  geared specifically to the “wannabe” portrait photographer.

Written by a writer (Sarah Plater) as instructed by renowned portrait photographer Paul Wilkinson, the book is well written and well arranged.

What you will learn in “Mastering Portrait Photography” will get you practising the RIGHT things.   Practice does not make perfect if you are practising the wrong things.

As I said earlier “do it right from the start”.

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The Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Crafting Light and Shadow

Author: Chris Knight
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

This is one of those “good cop / bad cop” tutorials.

The content is good but lacks detail.

Chris Knight is exceptionally good at what he does with portrait lighting but he doesn’t seem to be able to put it across in the written format as well as he does in his live classes.

The book has a high rating  but also a few negative comments.

You’ll of course learn a lot about lighting for dramatic portraits but may be frustrated at the lack of detail and finer points.

Lacks post production tips – which is a real pity as a lot happens in post production to really make portraits pop.

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Gregory Heisler: 50 Portraits: Stories and Techniques from a Photographer’s Photographer

Author: Gregory Heisler
Level: Every Portrait Photographer
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

One of the most prolific and iconic portrait photographers of our time Gregory Heisler’s “50 Portraits” is not a tutorial, it is a collection of some of his work.

The photos in this book are truly stunning and interesting (although sadly does not include all of his great work).  The images include tales of how they were taken.

I’ve included this iconic coffee-table photography book here as you can learn so much just from studying the images.

An absolutely must have in my opinion – but then portraits is my favourite genre.

I’ll let the book and the photos speak for themselves.

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The Natural Light Portrait Book: The step-by-step techniques you need to capture amazing photographs like the pros 

Author: Scott Kelby
Level: Intermediate to Expert
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

Our friend Scott Kelby again – this time with a subject dear to my heart “Natural Light Portraits”.

Let’s be honest here we don’t all have a studio and our subjects are often just normal people in every day situations so it makes sense to learn how to make the most of natural light. 

This book will do just that, and much more, for you.

There are a umber of topics included that go way beyond lighting. Subjects such as:

  • Taking tack sharp photos every time
  • Getting silky smooth out of focus separation between your subject and the background – every time, regardless of what lens you use
  • What gear you need for portrait photography
  • Manipulating natural light, including the harshest light, for maximum benefit
  • Camera settings
  • Post processing
  • Composition and
  • Posing

It’s all here – coming from an expert in the field.

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Best Childrens Photography Books

A subject close to any parents heart and one that we can all relate to.  Little children are just so gorgeous, cute, entertaining, precocious, demanding, loving, resilient yet vulnerable.

The little buggers grow up way too fast though!

Capturing all the special moments brings much joy and pleasure in the future as you look back on these special days.

The Design Aglow Posing Guide for Family Portrait Photography: 100 Modern Ideas for Photographing Newborns, Babies, Children, and Families

Author: Lena Hyde
Level: Beginner to intermediate
Customer Ratings: 4.4/5 (88%)

Mums and dads as well as wannabe and seasoned photographers will get great enjoyment out of “The Design Aglow Posing Guide For Family Portrait Photography”.

With “family” being such a large and diverse niche this book has done a superb job in breaking it down into:

  • Newborns and infants
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Teens
  • Family ( includes incorporating pets especially with the little ones)

The book is beautifully laid out, the images and technical aspects of the photos are consistent. Settings described are easy to follow and understand.

Brimful of posing ideas and techniques this is a wonderful book for parents and photographers alike. 

For photographers it is a great aid to help clients visualise what they can expect and to come up with their own ideas.

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Your Baby in Pictures: The New Parents’ Guide to Photographing Your Baby’s First Year

Author: Me Ra Koh
Level: New Mothers
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

A wonderful book of photography recipes to photograph the first year of your child’s life.

Recipes? Yes recipes – throughout the book the author shows the same photograph taken with different settings so that the reader can see the results and understand why one looks better than the other.

This is not a book that is written in camera jargon – it is a book written by a first time mother who wanted to take good pictures of her children.  she has done a wonderful job of explaining in simple English how to go about recording the first (and subsequent) year of your child’s life.

A must for any new parent who wants memorable photos of their precious bundle of joy.

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Art of Children’s Portrait Photography

Author: Tamara Lackey
Level: Advanced Photographer
Customer Ratings: 5/5 (100%)*

*Only 2 ratings so this high level will no doubt come down.

Aimed at the newborn and child photographer “Children’s Portrait Photography” takes the photographer through techniques of what is acceptable practice in modern contemporary children’s portraits:

  • Close cropping
  • Vignetting
  • Wide angles
  • Shallow depth of field

Portraits are all bout capturing the subjects character and mood. The author explains how to engage both the children and the parents in such a way as to get the essence of the subject recorded in a relaxed and fun way.

The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and moments that the author has experienced with her own clients.

A great read that will assist in upping your game and make you realise what a rewarding genre children’s portraits is (as if you din’t already know).

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Mastering Child Portrait Photography: A Definitive Guide for Photographers

Author: Richard Bradbury
Level: Keen enthusiast and aspiring professional
Customer Ratings: NONE!

I’m taking a chance with including this book because there are no customer ratings on Amazon.

On the flip side of that there is only one left in stock at time of writing with more on the way. From my experience that is always a good sign.

I am sure that over time positive reviews will start coming in.

I like the look and sound of it and I have seen the Authors project “The Children of London” – based on that I am sure you can gain a lot from “Mastering Child Portrait Photography: A Definitive Guide For Photographers”.

What have you got to lose?

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Best Pet Photography Books

Pet photography can be a real challenge. 

Let’s face it for many of us our pets are like our children – each has his/her own character and will on occasions show a side you’ve never before witness.

Combining your love of pets with your passion for photography is a fun and rewarding past time.

Enjoy these books on pet photography.

Pet Photography: The Secrets to Creating Authentic Pet Portraits

Author: Norah Levine
Level: Hobbyist to Professional photographers
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

Aimed at all pet loving photographers “Pet Photography: The Secrets to Creating Authentic Pet Portraits” has a lot to offer.

What is included in the 360 pages?

Well now let’s see:

  • Equipment recommendations
  • Mastering lighting and exposure
  • Composition
  • Preparing for and executing photo shoots
  • Includes techniques and suggestions on photographing all furry and feathered friends
  • how to bring out and capture their true characters
  • And a whole lot more

A beautiful and well written book that is easy to understand and put into practice – providing of course your pet reads the instructions too!

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Pet and Horse Photography for Everybody: Secrets from a Pro

Author: Nicole Begley
Level: All pet loving photographers
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

No matter your level of skill “Pet and Horse Photography For Everybody” is just that – for everybody!

Its about getting the best out of your pet photo sessions – and the best is capturing their unique characters as you (or their owners) see them.

At 128 pages the book is relatively short but packed with a lot of information.

Aimed at photographers who want to advance beyond their phone camera or their point and shoot – those who want to get an “adult” camera. 

It starts off with equipment recommendations and camera settings and moves into specific elements of photographing dogs, cats and horses.  I can’t help but think the author should have included the word “cats” in the title.  

Many cat loving owners and photographers may skip the opportunity of buying this book, and therefore miss out, because of that oversight.

The portraits contained within the book are all stunningly beautiful in one way or another and each comes with  a description, together with the technical stuff, of how it was captured.

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Pet Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Author: Alan Hess
Level: All
Customer Ratings: 4.3/5 (86%)

The “Snapshot to Great Shots” series is a well known and respected range of photographic tutorials and the newly released “Pet Photography” book builds on that great reputation.

Like many of the tutorials on photography the book offers instruction on basic photographic technique, discusses and explains exposure settings, natural and studio lighting, studio equipment and props, etc.

It goes on to discuss working with a variety of pets, how to pose them, capture their unique characters, action shots, and working with more than one subject at a time.

An outstanding book that inspires with its beautiful pet portraits and provides you with the education to produce similarly beautiful and unique photos of your pet.

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The Dogist: Photographic Encounters with 1,000 Dogs

Author: Elias Weiss Freedman
Level: All doggy lovers
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

Okay I have to confess – this is not a tutorial.

“The Dogist: Photographic Encounters With 1,000 Dogs” is just a fantastic reference book to have. 

Everyone should have a book that they just enjoy – right? Well this is that book.

While you are “Oohing and Aahing” over it you should be getting a load of ideas for your won photo shoot – so I guess it is a tutorial in that way.

Enjoy it as a great book celebrating man’s best friend.

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Best Landscape Photography Books

Another huge genre with lots of great books to choose from.

here are four to whet your appetite.

The Art of Landscape Photography

Author: Ross Hoddinott and Mark Bauer
Level: Advanced
Customer Ratings: 5/5 (100%)*

* Only 12 reviews but they all give full marks

This book is aimed at the photographer who knows his/her way around their camera. The book concentrates on the “Heart and soul” (Author’s words) of landscape photography.

It covers in great detail the principles of composition and aesthetic design with the intent of portraying the photographer’s emotion and feelings in the scene in front of him. Landscape photography is how you feel as you take it all in – before pressing the shutter.

He briefly covers technique but only in so much as how it impacts on the final look of the image.  

For example he explains why and how to use filters for mood enhancement rather than the more traditional reason of simply balancing extreme lighting conditions.

There are a number of practical assignments to get you to practice what is taught – theory is nothing if you don’t put it into practice.

The subject is landscape photography and one would expect a number of stunning landscape photos – you won’t be disappointed.

Details of the technical aspects, and other interesting points or features of some of the photos, are included at the very end of the book in thumbnail form.

This is a book that you will be paging through on a regular basis and one that will make you pick up your gear and go out there to capture images of our beautiful world.

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The Landscape Photography Book: The step-by-step techniques you need to capture breathtaking landscape photos like the pros 

Author: Scott Kelby
Level:  Beginner to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.6/5 (92%)

Our friend the great photographer and awesome tutor, Scott Kelby, is back with another great tutorial.  This time on how to take jaw-dropping awe-inspiring landscape photography.

A step by step guide beautifully illustrated with stunning landscape photos.

In “The Landscape Photography Book” Scott has you covered with the following topics:

  • What gear you need – by way of cameras, lenses, tripods, filters etc.
  • The best settings in any given situation
  • Setting up before you shoot
  • Composing your shot
  • Shooting panoramas and HDRs
  • Taking long exposure shots
  • Night time landscapes including the Milky Way and starlit skies 
  • All important post-processing tips and techniques

A great reference book to have on hand at all times.

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The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography

Author: Glenn Randal
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

Using the beautiful Colorado mountains and landscape as his backdrop, renowned wilderness photographer Glenn Randal, has produced an book that truly does indeed reveal the art science and craft of great landscape photography.

Rich in technical detail that is easy to follow landscape photographers will cherish this book for many years to come.  It’s the kind of book that makes you want to put Colorado on your bucket list (and that coming from me who lives in New Zealand).

Although it could be considered a very technical book it is very easy to read – that in itself is a skill and shows that Glenn is well aware of the different levels of his readers and would like to help us all.

All in all you get 244 pages of stunning photos, incredible technical info and a great reference manual for the future.

An updated version of this book is due out soon – how much better it can be I can’t imagine.

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The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography V2

Author: Glen Randall
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Customer Ratings: None yet – see comments below

This is an updated version of the book immediately above and at date of writing (January 2020) has not yet been released.

I don’t want to risk your wrath and have you buying the above book and then blaming me for not telling you about an impending update.

Stick this on your wish list or pre-order it.

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Best Wildlife Photography Books

This is a fascinating genre to get involved in – our planet has so many amazing wildlife species (for the moment anyway).

Here are 4 books on the subject to get you going and be sure to read my post “Best Cameras for WildlIfe Photography in 2020

Wildlife Photography: An expert guide

Author: Richard Benabe
Level: All Wildlife Photography lovers
Customer Ratings: 4.6/5 (92%)

Social media superstar and renowned wildlife photographer Richard Benabe has produced an outstanding book in “Wildlife Photography: An Expert Guide” that will teach you many tricks of the trade while taking your breath away.

This is definitely a book you will refer to often – if not as a reference and reminder then it will be for pure pleasure.

So what do you get?

Well 240 pages with stunning photos, advice on general equipment, settings and strategies for wildlife photography and info on where and when to travel for specific wild life.

There are many aspects to wild life photography and one of the most important is understanding your subject and being patient.  With so many species of wildlife it becomes a lifelong quest to “take that money shot!”

If the book has faults it is in the aesthetic department where in order to produce something so gorgeous the powers that be decided on a very faint font against an equally faint background – maybe my eyes aren’t what they used to be.

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Park Ranger’s Guide to Nature & Wildlife Photography

Author: Douglass Owen
Level: Wildlife lovers of all photographic skill levels
Customer Ratings: 5/5 (100%)*

*From only 12 ratings

This book resonates with e because as a park ranger Douglass focuses on getting his students to concentrate on the subject at hand and not worry about their equipment. His whole approach is in fact centred around students that have very basic gear.  If you’re out in the wold the last thing you want to hear is that you could have better gear (that will always be the case) so it is best to maximise what you have.

This approach means there is not much emphasis on settings and technical jargon -its all about practical application.

It resonates with me because a number of years ago I led a group of Kiwis (that’s New Zealanders for those who don’t know) on a big cat photo safari to in South Africa. Our group comprised skilled photographers with big cameras and lenses and total novices – some of whom only had their phones.  Despite this our very accomplished guides were able to place us in positions that enabled everyone to get outstanding photos.

It’s not the gear folks – this book will show you how to do it with the simplest of tools.

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Art of Bird Photography: The Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques

Author: Arthur Morris
Level: Beginner to expert
Customer Ratings: 4.4/5 (88%)

Bird photography is one of the trickiest and most rewarding genres.

Arthur Morris has produce a wonderful hand on tutorial to teach you how to capture our avian friends in their best light.

From basic equipment and settings to understanding your subject, predicting their behaviour, best composition and best time of day, it’s all here for you to read and absorb.

Many of the magnificent photos in the book were taken in poor lighting with low ISO and slow shutter speeds – you’ll learn how to shoot in similar conditions and still be able to take tack sharp photos. All this without causing undue stress on your subjects.

You’ll be green with envy at some of the photos and no doubt will be inspired to produce similar results – that’s what good tutorials can do to you.

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The Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Digital Images of Nature and Wildlife

Author: Sean Arbabi
Level: Intermediate to expert
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

This book has both animals and general wildlife covered.

A great book for the avid outdoorsman who wants to capture the beauty of the word around him.

Some of the stunning photos in the book are from remote areas – places where you and I may never reach – but the principles and techniques involved remain valid even if you are shooting in your back paddock.

It is a well written and well illustrated book that flows well – making it easy to read and understand.

This is a book written by an author who has a very practical approach to mastering al forms of nature photography.

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Best Posing Books

Posing requires giving directions with confidence while maintaining the comfort of your subject and being true to their character.  A lot of your posing will involve females and we always want to show their best side – ALWAYS!

Point the for the perfect photo is a lot more difficult than most people think.

It requires a lot of practice and a street-wise psychology degree.

These books will help you understand more and get to the point where posing becomes second nature – but only if you practice with real live humans.

Send out an SOS to all family and friends.

The Photographer’s Guide to Posing: Techniques to Flatter Everyone

Author: Lindsay Adler
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.8/5 (96%)

I love this book – because the author is quite emphatic that even the most beautiful subject photographed with the best gear in perfect lighting can fall totally flat if the pose is not absolutely spot on. 

And that doesn’t only apply to women; it applies equally to men, children and groups.

The second part of the book’s title says it all “The Photographer’s Guide to Posing: Techniques to Flatter Everyone“. Everyone in this case includes you the photographer because people will be asking who took the photo.

Subjects covered are too numerous to mention all but some of the more important ones are:

  • Equipment
  • Camera angle
  • Perspective
  • Hands
  • Jaw/chin line
  • Eyes
  • Expression and posture
  • Curvy women

She includes 5 basic “go to” poses that will work every time.

Please take the trouble to read all about it by clicking the button below.

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Pose!: 1,000 Poses for Photographers and Models

Author: Mehmet Eygi
Level: All – everyone will learn something here
Customer Ratings: 4.4/5 (88%)

“Pose! 1,000 Poses for Photographers and Models” is a very useful posing reference.

1,000 poses may sound like a lot but the book is not s complicated as that as each pose shows three variations. Some are subtle shifts while others are more dramatic.

As the title states this is for models and photographers to use in their everyday work or simply to enjoy and study.

  • Subtle tilts of the chin
  • Hand and leg placements
  • Use of props and the environment

For women, men, couples, maternity and family subjects covered include portraits, beauty, lingerie, implied nudes, fashion, curvy, boudoir, sports, business headshots and more.

All packed into 336 pages with accompanying photos and posing techniques and instructions.

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Doug Box’s Guide to Posing for Portrait Photographers

Author: Doug Box
Level: Beginner to expert
Customer Ratings: 4.1/5 (82%)

Like the previous two books the author also emphasises the point that a photo can fail on pose alone despite everything else being technically correct.

But this is a tutorial with a unique point of difference.

It has the usual training on poses, props, indoor sessions, on location shooting, natural and artificial light etc.

The point of difference is that each pose pose is shown on a two page spread with the photo and a detailed explanation of all the settings and intricacies of that specific photo.

It’s a great tool for any photographer to have in his/her armoury.

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Picture Perfect Posing: Practicing the Art of Posing for Photographers and Models (Voices That Matter)

Author: Roberto Valenzuela
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

This is another book that has a unique point of difference and in my opinion a very important one.

Roberto Valenzuela is a well known and very successful teacher who has an uncanny ability to breakdown difficult subjects into very easily understandable ideas.

In this book , rather than show a million poses and the techniques involved in getting them, he concentrates on the anatomy of the human form.

Starting from the core of the human body – the spine, from the tail bone to the neck, he explains: 

  • The model should stand to distribute her weight
  • Where she should hold her hands
  • How and why she should bend her elbow
  • the best position for her fingers
  • The angle of her body to the camera
  • Where to look

It’s a book with a difference and the information contained in it will help every photographer – and even models.

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Best Photography Books on Lighting

You have no doubt heard the phrase “photography is all about lighting” – well it is true and if you want to improve your photography you need to “see” light, understand light and use light.

If you are a photographer it is a subject you will never tire of.

Lighting for Digital Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots (Using Flash and Natural Light for Portrait, Still Life, Action, and Product Photography)

Author: Syl Arena
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.7/% (94%)

Please excuse the long title – what were they thinking of when they came up with that?

Anyway … this is another of the “from snapshots to great shots” series  and as such is another success story.

You will need to be familiar with your camera and be ready to move on to understanding light in more detail.  

Here you will learn the ability to see, influence, modify, control, and create light – all things that will take your photography to another level.

You will learn:

  • The difference between light modifiers (umbrellas, soft boxes, strip lights etc.)
  • To control and bend light with snoots, grids, flags and the zoom function on the flash
  • About the different colour temperatures of light – the sun, fluorescent, flash etc.
  • To work with a combination of different lighting

You can never know too much about lighting because photography is all about lighting.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

Light Science & Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting 

Author: Fil Hunter
Level: All – from beginner to experienced
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

Now this one I do like the title – it says it all.

Lots of information in here.

It covers most of the topics in the book mentioned above and one extra section which I like.

I particularly liked the section where he discusses hard lighting surface such as glass, liquid, metals and extremes (black-on-black and white-on-white).

The one weakness is the subject of setting up your own studio – it spoils what is essentially a great tutorial with over a hundred new photos (from the earlier version).

As one reviewer put it “This book will help you own your light”.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

Crafting the Natural Light Look: The One-Light Approach to Creating Striking Portraits with a Strobe or Flash

Author: Sandra Coan
Level: Intermediate and up
Customer Ratings: None – yet to be released

Can’t really tell you anything about this as it is yet to be released.

I included it because I am a huge fan of natural lighting and in this tutorial the delightful Sandra is going to show us how to replicate natural light when it isn’t suitable.

You can read more about it by clicking on the button below.

It could be worth putting on your wish list – I have.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

The Luminous Portrait: Capture the Beauty of Natural Light for Glowing, Flattering Photographs 

Author: Elizabeth Messina
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.3/5 (86%)

Although this is a book for intermediate to advanced photographers I don’t want to put off newbies.  iI think if you took this on you would learn a lot of excellent skills and habits before falling into the trap of wanting to buy new gear.

Yes you guessed it this is all about natural lighting and taking beautiful, flattering, romantic images in all kinds of natural lighting conditions.

It doesn’t matter if your subject are male or female, young or old individuals or groups, With what you learn here you will be able to take stunning portraits.

if you’re looking for camera settings this book will disappoint because it is not about camera settings – well not until you have learnt to see and understand the light in front of you.

This is definitely a keeper!

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

Best Post processing Books

In today’s digital world no review would be complete without a section on post-processing.

In days gone by it was the “dark room” – in today’s world it is “LightRoom and PhotoShop”.

As an excellent photographer and very good friend of mine once said:
“Post-processing is everything!

Here are 4 extremely popular post-processing books for you to choose from and if you click on any of the links you’ll find a whole lot more to consider.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC – The Missing FAQ (Version 7/2018 Release): Real Answers to Real Questions Asked by Lightroom Users

Author: Victoria Bampton 
Level: Beginners to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.7/5 (94%)

This is a very well thought of tutorial based on user reviews – there are lots of them and they are all high.

There is an added bonus when you register your copy you get 1 years Free Premium membership to Lightroom Queen.

This gives you access to all of the eBooks formats mentioned in the tutorial as well as email support from Victoria herself plus online book updates for a year

As this book will no doubt soon be updated it may be worth waiting for that to happen.  On the other hand if she updates it every year as per the bonus she may not update it.

Please click the button below for more info.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

The Photoshop Workbook: Professional Retouching and Compositing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Author: Glyn Dewis
Level: All
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

I am delighted to be able to recommend Glyn’s book as I know him personally through my association with The Photographer’s Guild.  
I’ve had personal tuition from him and follow his popular YouTube channel.

He is a nice guy with some amazing PhotoShop skills and an easy teaching manner.

In the first part of the book he teaches you how to use the PhotoShop tools – and there are a lot of them. 

In the second part of the book he teaches you when to use them and how to bring it all together.

He is a true professional and an expert in his field – he has to be to meet the extremely high standards of the Photographers Guild.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

The Photoshop Elements 2020 Book for Digital Photographers

Author: Scott Kelby
Level: Beginner to advanced
Customer Ratings: 5/5 (100%) – but a brand new release so only two reviews

Our friend Scott Kelby is back with a tutorial for those using Photoshop Elements in 2020.

Elements can probably best be described as a watered down version of PhotoShop but in this book Scott shows you the secrets and tricks that pros use to work around issues to overcome these minor shortfalls.

You’ll learn:
  • How easy it is to to unlock the power of layers
  • All about Camera Raw and how to use it for processing JPEGs, TIFFs, and PSDs as well as RAW
  • The power behind correct sharpening and what the pros do to get their images looking so good.
  • Dealing with common digital photography problems such as the brightening of subjects in dark shadow and producing the  best colour and colour range possible
  • And much more!
A big plus is that the images he works on are downloadable so you can work right alongside the tutorial as he takes you through things – step by step.

By now you  know the routine – for more information click the button below.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

The HDR Book: Unlocking the Pros’ Hottest Post-Processing Techniques (2nd Edition)

Author: Rafael Concepcion
Level: Intermediate to advanced
Customer Ratings: 4.5/5 (90%)

Love it or hate it HDR is a thing.

The trick is to know when enough is enough and when you’ve gone too far.

You have a choice to learn HDR – hours and hours of trial and error or instead of trying to reinvent the wheel (which can be fun I know) go straight to the experts and get a solid grounding from years of knowledge.

This book is your “EXPERT”.

It’s another book that will prove to be a well used reference book in the coming years.

Cick through to Amazon for pricing

A Final Word on Photography Books - are they still a thing?

That a very  good question what with YouTube being such a great resource and one that I highly recommend you use.

In my opinion books are most definitely still a thing.

Maybe I am old school but there is something about having a book to refer to, with easy access to chapters and pages that you have just passed.  It all makes for finding things a lot easier for me.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and I sincerely hope it was helpful in finding you the book you were after.

One last request  if I may …

What books do you own and recommend and why?

Let me know in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “The Best Photography Books”

  1. I am very interested in the book “Understanding Exposure” – it looks like it’s also good for beginners, isn’t it? 

    I would like to learn more about photography, even though I don’t have professional equipment yet. I could definitely learn more about the exposure triangle. It would help me take better photos which I can use for my websites, or perhaps even book covers. 

    The Natural Light Portrait book also looks very interesting. I would love to improve on taking photos with sharp contrasts.  I love the dramatic look of them. 

    Pet photography is another one on my list. I used to volunteer in dog and cat rescue, and taking the exact right photo often made the difference in getting or not getting an adoption. Although I am no longer rescuing, I still help however I can, and if I could learn to take great photos of rescue dogs and cats, I would be able to help find adoptions for them. 

    And I absolutely agree with you that books are still a thing. Although Kindle is what everybody or most people use nowadays (and I have Kindle on my phone), I still – and always will – prefer the feel of a physical book in my hands, turning the pages, and bookmarking the pages where I can find the info. Especially when you are learning something new, it is best to have a physical book to refer to.

    • Hi Christine

      Thanks for your comments – I can tell that you are a quick learner and get to the core of things from the outset.

      What makes me say this?

      Well you straight away cottoned on to light being the essence of photography and understanding the exposure triangle is at the centre of that.

      any beginner who can grasp the importance of lighting and the exposure triangle is, in my opinion, streets ahead of the average photographer and certainly way ahead of those who only ever shoot in “auto” mode.

      Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with “auto” mode – it’s just that understanding the exposure triangle allows you to get the very best out of your camera by using the more flexible manual modes.

      And to conclude – its nice to know I’m not the only one who likes to learn from books.

      All the best,

  2. I really enjoyed browsing your website, maybe because I was always a bit afraid of the complexity of cameras.

    The website, including the best photography books post is a tremendous help for people like me or for those that would like to pursue photography as a hobby. 

    I found the topic very helpful and factual and had no idea there were so many fantastic tutorials on so many different photographic subjects – all in book format, still my favourite way of learning.

    Congratulations on the beautiful website, and yes, New Zealand is a photographers paradise!

    • Hi Daniela – thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      And thanks for the nice words too.

      Cameras can be pretty complex and a lot of people feel this way. Truth is though with “auto” mode anyone cant take a good photo – I’m sure the photos you take with your phone are pretty good?
      The thought of writing this post came about because of your very fears – a good tutorial, in book format, using simple language is probably the easiest way to learn.

      One of the reasons I divided it into categories is that people buy cameras for a specific reasons – for example to take family portraits. They want to know how to take good family portraits not everything there is to know about photography. Wouldn’t you agree?

      Very pleased you liked it and thanks once again for your comments.


  3. What a great list of books. I have found this one to be very useful for us who are new to Digital Photgraphy. “Getting Started in Photography: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Taking Great Pictures ” By Author: Jim Hamel.

    This is an amazing collection of good books on Photography. I saw a couple in there I want to get. Bookmarking this post.

    • Hey Bo
      Glad you liked the list and found it interesting.

      You’ve chosen a great book in “Getting Started in Photography: A Complete Beginner’s Guide to Taking Great Pictures ”
      Once you learn everything in there you’re going to be hooked – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

      When you get to the section on exposure triangle and how aperture, shutter and ISO all work together and how changing one changes everything pay real close attention. Its the secret to good photography. Read it over and over again until it is absolutely crystal clear.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      All the best

  4. Hey Lawrence! Wow, this is an amazing compilation!
    I wish I had all these books. I love taking pictures, and I am always amazed at what I see is not always how the picture comes out… something about not quite getting the true colors and textures.. like for instance pictures of nature..
    How do you get truer colors and textures in your photos?
    In peace and gratitude, ariel

    • Hi Ariel

      I’m delighted that you found the list to be useful – I would also love to own all these books (I have 8 of them so far)

      Thanks for stopping by and asking a great question which I will not try to answer.

      First of all we need to understand that the eye is a very sophisticated organ (is it an organ?) and a camera is a machine – albeit an amazing one.

      Colour rendition in photographs is primarily determined by the quality of the lens and the sensor capturing the light – these days most cameras are very good though. It is further influenced by things such as the quality of the light, the hue, the luminance dust and smoke particles in the air etc.

      All of these things can effect the image and they appear different to what we might see with out naked eye.

      There’s one other thing that has a big impact on how an image appears. The screen you are viewing it on. Not all screens are the same and have different colour palettes hence the need to calibrate your monitor.

      Now here is the secret to getting true colours – shoot in RAW.

      As a camera sensor literally captures everything in front of it – shooting in RAW means that all the detail is there. Sometimes though it is not clearly visible and needs to be extracted and this is where post processing is so important.

      With post-processing each and every detail can be brought out of even the darkest of shadows, colours can be highlighted or reduced/softened (and even changed) and so on and so forth until you have the image you envisioned when looking through the viewfinder.

      Textures can likewise be enhanced or, as I often do, a textured layer can be added over the image. A simple way to make an image look very different in a subtle way.

      Hope that helps and makes sense – and of course answers your question.

      All the best

  5. Thanks for the amazing list, I am very old school and love reading and having the ability to refer back easily, awesome, thanks again.


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