I’m the same as you. I love new cameras and lenses.
There is something satisfying and gratifying about getting a new tool and I believe that a new camera or lens can often kick start your inspiration to create the images that you want.
However in all honesty most cameras these days are capable of creating high quality images so a wiser investment of our money is perhaps to increase our photographic knowledge and competence.
I’m a self taught photographer as I guess a lot of you are too.
When I first picked up a proper camera I quickly realised that I wanted to know what makes a good image.
I read and studied a huge amount of books on the subject. Ranging from simple tips and tricks books that tell you what to do (but not always why) such as Scott Kelbies Digital Photography series to books on classical painters to study composition.
Below are my top 5 books that I feel give the most useful information in the most easily digestible form.
Don’t forget to buy through my Amazon links below. It wont cost you any more but I get a small comission which helps me to create new content. Thank you and enjoy.
1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson.
This is my number one general photography book because it gives a great understanding of the basics of the exposure triangle (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) as well as the creative choices that these settings give us.
It teaches you to understand how to create images with total control over the final look of your photos in an easily digestible way.
This is the first book you should buy.
2. Digital Photography Series by Scott Kelby.
This series of books by Scott Kelby gives simple straight forward tips to help you create certain looks in your images. It never delves too deeply into the why but if you just want to know the how then these books are great.
3. Nature Photography: Insider secrets by Chris Weston
This book is not just about nature photography although it is a must read for anyone interested in shooting wildlife.
It also has some great explanations on the fundamental skills and principles needed to create high quality images of any subject. Its explanations on how to properly expose your photos to maximise image quality are the best I’ve read and it’s explanation of ISO is a ‘turning on the light switch’ moment.
4. The Photographers Eye by Michael Freeman.
Michael Freeman’s book concentrates on composition and is probably the most in depth of the books listed so far.
It explains the theories behind composition and goes in to more detail than just the rule of thirds which so many cite as the be all and end all of composition.
Information on Gestalt theory, how to use line, shape and form as well as great images to convey each point.
This book goes way beyond the basics but in an easy to read and interesting way.
If you want to really understand composition then I suggest this book as a great starting point.
5. Mastering Composition by Richard Garvey Williams.
This book offers a thorough examination of composition from the rule of thirds through to design, theory, colour and more.
It is the most thorough in its examination of composition. It is a little dry in the way it is written so perhaps not as engaging as Michael Freeman’s book above, however the content is excellent and worth working your way through.
So there you have it, my top 5 books on photography.
If you read just two of these I would suggest Understanding Exposure and The Photographers Eye as great places to start. Once you have read and digested the information in these books go out and put your new found knowledge in to practise and I guarantee you will be creating more interesting and compelling photos than the majority of people.