A few days ago my friend asked me about photography books I’d recommend since she wants to learn how to take good pictures with a DSLR camera. It reminded me of the various books I’ve learned from, and I wanted to share my recommendations for those people also wanting to take up photography.
I still remember when I decided to get into photography. Back in 2011 when my husband was out of town for a week, I was browsing the Internet and feeling a little blue, wishing I had some of the talents I saw in others. Then I remembered a saying my husband once told me that still impacts me today: “You are who you choose to be.” I decided right then and there that instead of lamenting about the talents I didn’t have, I would actively learn and become what I wanted to be. And I wanted to learn how to take good pictures.
Luckily at that point I had already inherited my brother-in-law’s old Canon Rebel camera; I just needed to learn how to use it. So if you’re at the same point, this is what I recommend (in this order):
1. Photo 101 by Nicole Hill Gerulat, $40 (her website)
This was the very first book I bought. I was attracted to it because I admired the author’s work and it had a very clean, modern feel. After the first week, my pictures went from this…
… to this.
The author teaches you how to use your camera in manual mode and shooting with natural light. Her book is extremely informative for the absolute beginner who doesn’t even know how to operate a DSLR.
2. Beyond Snapshots, Rachel Devine and Peta Mazey, $15 (Amazon)
I happened upon this book actually just a few days ago when my friend contacted me. I had already seen the work of the authors, but now they have an amazing book. It compliments Photo 101 because it delves more into advanced techniques and composition ideas. I view this book as the everyday life photography resource. I can’t wait to learn from it!
3. Your Baby in Pictures by Me Ra Koh, $14 (Amazon)
This was my second photography book. I look at it here and there now, but at the time it had a huge impact on helping me look differently at my children. Photography is meant to tell a story, which meant focusing on details and expressions, not just events. She also does a great job showing you how to set up a specific shot. These shots were inspired by this book.
4. Mamarazzi by Stacy Wasmuth, $17 (Amazon)
This book is okay. It might be worth checking out from the library. With my #2 recommendation, this one is a little less inspiring, but I have used it for composition ideas, like for this session with my friend’s kids.
All of these books focus more on photographing people. But if you’re into tabletop or food photography I recommend…
Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin, $17 (Amazon)
Someday I’d like to spend some time focusing on food photography, but right now I’m lucky if I get dinner on the table, let alone take a nice picture of it! But, I bought this book so I could learn tabletop/still life photography techniques. The author is self-taught and extremely inspiring.