There is no shortage of ways to learn photography. From Photography tutorials on Youtube, Photography Podcasts, and Photography courses and workshops it is easy to forget about the golden standard and the way many beginners learned photography for a century before the internet, BOOKS!
It may seem weird learning photography from books which are traditionally full of text but the truth is books cost a lot of money to produce and therefore the content in them is much higher quality than the majority of free resources. I can tell you first hand these are the best photography books for beginners and if you are serious about learning photography these books will guide you wherever you want your camera to take you.
This article contains affiliate links to the books listed and if you purchase one of the photography books below I may receive a small commission but this has in no way influenced my real world experience using each and every book listed below.
1: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson
Veteran photographer Bryan Peterson explains the fundamentals of light, aperture, and shutter speed and how they interact with and influence one another. With an emphasis on finding the right exposure even in tricky situations, Understanding Exposure shows you how to get (or lose) sharpness and contrast in images, freeze action, and take the best meter readings, while also exploring filters, flash, and light.
2: The Photographers Eye by Michael Freeman
Design is the single most important factor in creating a successful photograph. The ability to see the potential for a strong picture and then organize the graphic elements into an effective, compelling composition has always been one of the key skills in making photographs.
In this book, Photographer Michael Freeman teaches how digital photography has brought a new, exciting aspect to design with instant feedback from a digital camera allows immediate appraisal and improvement. This has had a profound effect on the way digital photographers take pictures.
3: Advancing your Photography by Marc Silber
Marc Silber has not only been a guest on the Beginner Photography Podcast but has interviewed some of the world's best photographers and learned their secrets for stunning composition. Now he passes their wisdom along to you in an easy to understand handbook. Too many photographers get to a certain level and find it hard to advance. We're bombarded with so many videos, books and people telling you what to do it can be overwhelming. Marc wrote Advancing Your Photography so you could have one easy to read handbook to carry with you. All his tips are based on decades of photography and the deep wisdom of the fantastic photographers he's interviewed.
4: Picture Perfect Practice by Roberto Valenzuela
If you’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed by the challenges of real-world locations and executing a great image–or if you simply want to become a better shooter but don’t know where to start– Roberto Valenzuela’s Picture Perfect Practice gives you the tools and information you need to finally become the kind of photographer you’ve always wanted to be: the kind who can confidently walk into any location, under any lighting condition, with any subject, and know that you can create astonishing photographs that have a timeless impact.
5: The Photographers Guide to Posing by Lindsay Adler
When photographing people, you can have a great composition, perfect light, and the right camera settings, but if your subject doesn’t look right―if the pose is off―the shot will not be a keeper. Posing is truly a crucial skill that photographers need to have in order to create great photographs. If you’re looking to improve your ability to pose your subjects―whether they’re men, women, couples, or groups―best-selling author and photographer Lindsay Adler’s The Photographer’s Guide to Posing: Techniques to Flatter Everyone is the perfect resource for you.
6: Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders
Competition in the photography industry has never been fiercer. But in this empowering guide, acclaimed photographer Dane Sanders reveals that the key to success is to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and start focusing on your most powerful resource: you.
BONUS: Magnum Contact Sheets by Kristen Lubben
This groundbreaking book presents a remarkable selection of contact sheets, revealing how the most celebrated Magnum photographers capture and edit the very best shots. Addressing key questions of photographic practice, the book illuminates the creative methods, strategies, and editing processes behind some of the world’s most iconic images. The book is a bonus because it is less actionable than others on this list and focuses more on the stories from the photographers who took the photos. This is a must read.