I’ve read several photography books and here are my short reviews on some of them. I am mostly a landscape, nature, and travel photographer, so I have read more of these types of books than others, but there are books in here for any photographer that I would recommend!
(I didn’t include the mediocre ones because I don’t have anything really good or bad to say about them so they’re not worth reviewing.)
I’ve put a star rating by each, and a short comment also. Here’s what my star ratings mean:
- 1 star – *—-, I didn’t like it. I’ve sold it used, returned it, or thrown it away.
- 2 stars – **—, It’s not that good.
- 3 stars – ***–, It’s o.k. Not great. I got something out of it. A small part of it is useful. I might keep it.
- 4 stars – ****-, It’s good. I liked it and got a lot out of it. I don’t refer to it too often though. It’s on my shelf.
- 5 stars – *****, It is a great book. I like it and use it often, referring back to it from time to time. I get a lot out of it.
These are in no particular order. Clicking on each title will take you directly to the book on Amazon and several have some previews. I’d recommend looking over the table of contents at a minimum to see if they suit you.
Last updated March 2015.
Landscape and Nature Photography
***** The New Art of Photographing Nature: An Updated Guide to Composing Stunning Images of Animals, Nature, and Landscapes by Art Wolfe, An excellent book regarding many critical aspects of photographing nature. If you’re shooting outdoors then you should definitely read this book.
****- Light, Gesture and Color by Jay Maisel, A good book for learning how composition affects various photos. Not exclusively a landscape book, but good instruction applicable for any photo.
***** The Magic of Digital Nature Photography (A Lark Photography Book) by Rob Sheppard, This book explains all aspects of photography, not just nature. The author has many good ideas about how color is enhanced by black areas, and other insightful thoughts.
***** Exploring North American Landscapes: Visions and Lessons in Digital Photography by Marc Muench, This book is divided into two parts. First is the inspiration and showcasing of many great photos of Marc’s. Last is the processing techniques. He has different post-processing than others and it shows – his photos look amazing! Definitely recommended reading.
****- Light in the Landscape: A Photographer’s Year by Peter Watson, A book that has many of the author’s photos of landscapes of England, each with an explanation of how the author took the photo, what settings, etc. Very helpful in explaining how his photos were made.
***** The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography by The Mountain Trail Photo Team, Excellent instruction in the art of taking fantastic nature and landscape photos. I refer to it often.
***** National Audubon Society Guide to Landscape Photography by Tim Fitzharris, Nice photography and tips included. I refer to it often and its great photos give me something to strive for in my own work.
***** National Audubon Society Guide to Nature Photography: Digital Editionby Tim Fitzharris, Nice photography and tips included. I refer to it often and its great photos give me something to strive for in my own work.
***** Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Masters by Michael Frye, Excellent book – I refer to it often. Buy it. The author goes into detail of how to apply curves to photos in post-processing, talks of filters to use while shooting, and offers reasons why each choice is made. Very thorough and very direct and to the point. I like that.
Selling and Marketing Photography
****- Marketing Fine Art Photographyby Alain Briot, An excellent book that explains marketing of fine-art photography. The drawback for me is that there is no index in this book and it makes it difficult for me to find information quickly. Otherwise a great book!
****- Shooting & Selling Your Photos: The Complete Guide to Making Money with Your Photography by Jim Zuckerman, Well-written and useful.
***** 99 Ways To Make Money From Your Photos by the editors of Photopreneur, Extremely useful book of knowledge regarding where you can sell your photos. It gives a difficulty rating for each suggestion so you know up-front what you’re getting into and how profitable it could be.
Stock and Microstock Photography
****- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sellby Rob Sylvan, I useful book by someone who knows what they are talking about. Rob is part of the iStockphoto network so he has plenty of inside information here that will help any prospective microstock photographer.
**— Microstock Money Shots by Ellen Boughn, More of a guided tour than an instructive book that you would ever refer back upon.
***– Microstock Photography: How to Make Money from Your Digital Images by Douglas Freer, A good primer on the ins and outs of making money with your photos.
***** The Digital Photographer’s Guide to Filters: The Complete Guide to Hardware and Software Filtrationby Ross Hoddinott, The best book on filters that I have read.
****- The Photographer’s Guide to Filters by Lee Frost, A good overview of filters used in photography. This book is a classic text for filters and although a little bit dated, you should own it.
****- Professional Filter Techniques for Digital Photographers by Stan Sholik, Another good filter book. Worth owning.
Camera Skills and Techniques
***** Capturing Light: The Heart of Photography by Michael Freeman, A great book describing all the different types of light that one encounters in photography. Excellent book. Highly recommended.
***** Digital Exposure Handbookby Ross Hoddinott, A small book that is easily carried. I refer to it often. Well written.
***– Digital Photography: Essential Skills, Fourth Edition by Mark Galer, I can’t fault the author here for this book as it is good for getting the basics. The basics-type of books have been written many times though. However, this book brings in some items the others leave out – such as printing, Lightroom, and other aspects of photography not widely written about in basic books of this type.
****_ Pro Secrets to Dramatic Digital Photos (A Lark Photography Book) by Jim Zuckerman, An excellent book that has different sections for the various techniques that Jim recommends. They are all proven techniques and work. I highly recommend this book.
*—- The Moment It Clicks: Photography secrets from one of the world’s top shooters by Joe McNally, Inspirational images and discussions about lighting. That is about it though.
***** Perfect Exposure by Jim Zuckerman, One of the best and most definitive on photography. It has the secrets you need to get some great shots. Unfortunately out of print at this time.
****- Understanding Digital Photography: Techniques for Getting Great Pictures by Bryan Peterson, Probably the best book on basic photography. Covers a wide amount.
****_ Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera by Bryan Peterson, A great book about exposure.
****_ Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second by Bryan Peterson, The best book on shutter speed. I use it often but less than his book on exposure.
****- Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure: Mastering Adobe’s Next-Generation Tool for Digital Photographers by Mikkel Aaland, A great reference for Lightroom written and contributed by photographers. Some very good tips. It doesn’t just apply to Lightroom version 2 – it can be used for any version.
****- David Busch’s Guide to Digital SLR Photography by David Busch, I have the version for the Canon EOS camera that I have and Busch publishes a different guide for each camera out there. I would recommend this book for your camera if you want to quickly learn the features in an in-depth way. Very well written and laid-out.
***** The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos by Michael Freeman, The best guide on photo composition that I have seen.
***** Michael Freeman’s Top Digital Photography Tips (A Lark Photography Book) by Michael Freeman, Secrets revealed! Enough said. Buy it.
**— Exposure, From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell, Basic stuff. There are lots of better basic photography books out there and this type of book has been done many times before. Nothing new is offered in this one.
*—- The Elements of Photography by Angela Faris Belt, Wordy and basic. It doesn’t offer much that I could use. Just my opinion.
*—- Perfect Digital Photography by Jay Dickman and Jay Kinghorn, Another basic book but written in long-form. Not for me.
**— Creative Composition by Harold Davis, Another basic book, but this one includes interesting information on lenses.
**— 35mm Handbook by Michael Langford, Outdated now (1986), but this was one of my first photography books.
**— Secrets of Color in Photography by Jim Zuckerman, A good solid book on color in photos, but nothing new that one couldn’t figure out on their own.
****- The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby, A good solid book on Lightroom. It really helped me get set-up correctly with Lightroom when I was starting out. I recommend it.
***– Scott Kelby’s 7-Point System for Adobe Photoshop CS3 by Scott Kelby, I like this book, but wish there was one for Lightroom instead of Photoshop. Not everybody can afford Adobe Photoshop. I’ve taken a lot from this book though and adapted it for Lightroom with perfect results. Scott provides test images on his site and I can do the same to them in Lightroom as he did in Photoshop, so this book did provide a challenge to me in that regard.
****- Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 by Scott Kelby, These three books have numerous tips and hints that I refer back to from time to time. If there’s a fourth and fifth, buy them – they’re good.
***– Adobe Photoshop CS Image Effects by Ron Grebler et. al., Not about photography. Shows you how to make images in Photoshop that look like photos. I used this to make my “deep blue sea” image that now has sold over a million copies world-wide.
**— Photoshop CS3 Photo Effects Cookbook by Tim Shelbourne, Shows lots of ways to modify photos for different effects. Useful, but not used regularly.
**— Photoshop Classic Effects by Scott Kelby, Effects that can be done to photos in Photoshop. Includes most of the widely-used ones.
Night and Low Light Photography
***– Digital Night and Low-Light Photography by Tim Gartside, Well laid-out book with good photo examples and instruction.
***– The Complete Guide to Night & Lowlight Digital Photography (A Lark Photography Book) by Michael Freeman, A good book on night and low light photography. Filled with step by step instruction in both photographic equipment and a variety of software solutions.
**— Night Photography, Finding Your Way in the Dark by Lance Keimig, It’s o.k and has some Lightroom examples.
***** Seeing in the Dark: A Guide to Night Photography by Jon Beard, The absolute best book on night photography. If you’re interested in taking some great night photos quickly, then this is the book for you.
HDR – High Dynamic Range Photography
***– Practical HDRI: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers by Jack Howard, This book is well-written and gives a good overview of HDR techniques.
***** Mastering HDR Photography: Combining Technology and Artistry to Create High Dynamic Range Images by Michael Freeman, One of the best books on HDR techniques out there. It shows several different popular HDR software packages and the results achieved by each. Good basic theory as well.
***** Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography (A Lark Photography Book) by Ferrell McCollough, Another one of the best HDR books out there.
I’m updating this all of the time, so just because the post date here is old, the information in here is not!
Thank you for reading what I wrote —I hope you enjoyed it.