It doesn’t matter what you are learning, having the right books at your disposal are essential tools for the journey, and this is true for photography for beginners too.

If you are looking for photography ideas for beginners at home, one of the first things you should consider is a good photography for beginners book that will not only introduce you to the incredible art but also provide photography for beginners tips that will serve you for years to come.  

If you are embarking on a photography journey, it’s important to know that this is a subject where there is a significant amount of important theory behind the art. Keep reading for a comprehensive list of some of the best books on photography for beginners.

1. “Learning Photography” by Nicolas Croce

This best-selling photography for beginners book by Nicolas Croce offers students important foundational knowledge on how to learn photography. In fact, it is jam-packed with lessons and practical photography assignments. I

In addition, Croce also has his own blog which is also very useful for picking up photography for beginners tips regarding composition, using the manual function, and when to use a tripod.

Why You’ll Love It:

There’s no doubt that students are able to progress quickly with this book. Not only the exercises well suited for photography for beginners but explanations regarding the settings on a DSLR are easy to understand.

Of course, there is quite a lot of work to get through, but like anything worth learning in life, some dedication helps you get through it.

If you are keen on other books on photography for beginners, you could check out additional books by Nicolas Croce who has published “Long Exposure” and “Lightroom” which are also perfect for picking up photography ideas for beginners at home.

2. “Frame and Set-Off: Photography Step by Step” by Anne-Laure Jacquart

Anne-Laure Jacquart is a recognised and award-winning photographer with heaps of experience. Her book is perfect for anyone who is self-teaching and looking for photography ideas at home.

Jacquart has the ability to bring a very personalised approach into her photography for beginners book especially regarding her unique style when it comes to black and white photography and using flash.

She also has a blog that offers fantastic photography for beginners tips. Readers can expect to find out how to use their SLR or Digital SLR camera to adjust focus, achieve sharpness, and know the difference between using either available, natural light, or studio flash.

art and photography books
Boost your book learning with the help of a photography tutor. - Source: Unsplash

In addition, visitors to her blog can also pick up useful post-production and editing tips, both of which are essential not only to finish off an image so that it looks professional but also to potentially change the interpretation of the image.

In short, when it comes to books on photography for beginners, Jaquart is really able to deliver the goods.

Why You’ll Love It:

You will find that Jacquart’s teachings are clear and concise without being too technical. Also, her many images are extremely helpful especially the ones that compare images for the critical eye.

3. “Photo Class in 20 Weeks” by David Taylor, Paul Lowe, Paul Sanders, and Tracy Hallet

This collaborative work by several professionals is certainly one of the best books on photography for beginners out there.

Paul Sanders specialises in fine art photography using film to take outstanding black and white images, while photojournalist Paul Lowe specialises in award-winning nature images.

Tracy Hallett is a magazine freelancer who specialises in natural and urban landscape photography, especially the flora of Great Britain.

Finally, David Taylor has authored 20 books devoted to books on photography for beginners!

Why You’ll Love It:

Firstly, these authors are real professionals and have dozens of photography for beginners tips. Their work is easy to understand, offers excellent lessons, and even photography ideas for beginners at home.

4. “Learning How to Shoot Digital Photography” by Jean-Marie Sepulchre

Jean-Marie Sepulcher who has been involved with teaching the art of photography since 1974, has authored many a photography for beginners book. He not only teaches how to use SLR and analogue cameras but also provides photography for beginners tips on how to take better images with a smartphone.

He has also published several very practical e-books on specific types of cameras and also has a blog that offers very practical photography ideas for beginners at home.

Using his methods, you could foundational photography knowledge without having to go through the paces of a traditional and expensive photography school.

Why You’ll Love It:

Sepulchre’s guides are simple, educational, and offer great explanations about device functionality. The advice which is very generalised is aimed at photography for beginners tips and not for advanced students who would also require information about post-production techniques.

photography books and vintage camera
Great photography manuals can serve as a reference for years to come. - Source; Unsplash

5. “Photographing Animals, Flora and Natural Landscapes” by Ivan Roux, Maeva Destombes and Jacques Harbornn

When it comes to natural landscape photography, this illustrious list of photographers is certainly the experts. Firstly, Ivan Roux’s credentials include his positions as deputy editor for the Science and Macro Life magazine as well as the editor-in-chief or Photography magazine.

Photojournalist, Maeva Destomes practices food and photojournalism photography and Jacques Harbonn is a journalist for scientific and computer science journals including video game magazines.

Why You’ll Love It:

There are many reasons why this is the perfect photography for beginners book. Firstly, chapters are defined by themes and it provides a good description of easily accessible photography equipment. You’ll find concisely organised pages on sensors, how to zoom, and basic techniques for beginners.

But the most helpful concept in this book is that every photograph is captioned with the SLR camera settings used. There is also a helpful analysis that describes various shooting conditions.

As you consider these five photography books, it might also be helpful to check out these basic photo tips from PetaPixel.

Four Photography for Beginners Tips You Can’t Do Without!

Get in Close

It was famed photojournalist, Robert Capa, who has been quoted as saying, “if your photographs aren’t good enough, you are not close enough!” By this he meant, you need to be in and amongst the action. So if your images are not emotive enough, take a couple of steps closer to your subject, fill the frame and see how they look without wasted space. This is an important tip for shooting people in a documentary style.

Shoot Every Day

There is no doubt when it comes to improving in anything in life, the best method is to practise, practise, and practise some more! It doesn’t really matter what you decide to shoot, but spending hours behind your camera is the surest way to become technically proficient. Experiment as much as you can without thinking about it too much and over time, you will begin to notice that your own unique and authentic style will begin to emerge.

See the Light

A good photographer is always observing light, which in effect is the canvas of the image. Make sure you always know where the light is coming from and use its direction to your advantage. Regardless of whether it is natural light or an artificial source, light is the ingredient that either makes or breaks a photograph. Ask yourself how the light is interacting with your landscape scene or falling on your subject’s face. Look out for shadows and highlights and consider whether they add to the image or not.

woman reading photography book
In addition to reading, make sure to practise your photography. - Source: Unsplash

Ask Permission

If you decide that you love to photograph people, especially when you are travelling in countries where the culture and language differ from your own, firstly be mindful that it can be tricky to communicate. Secondly, bear in mind that in certain countries it is considered rude and highly offensive to take a photograph of someone. For this reason, always ask permission, even if you use gestures and body language before you actually take a photograph. Smile, show humility and respect and the chances are that you will be granted permission. Your attitude and openness will determine the degree to which people open up, relax, and allow you into their worlds.

Find a Private Photography Tutor

Books aside, of course, there is no better way to learn than by being taught by an expert. And when it comes to photography, there is no doubt that one-on-one tuition could help you to sail through the more technical aspects like trying to understand the complex relationship between aperture and shutter speed, for instance.

In South Africa on websites like Superprof, there are dozens of private tutors located all over the country with varying backgrounds, experience, qualifications, and fees. Most of them not only come with reviews but also offer an introductory lesson for free.

Having a private tutor, whether that is face-to-face or online, can help you learn at your own pace and to truly grasp the trickier concepts without feeling the pressure of a classroom setting.

When it comes to learning anything new, remember the best way to tackle it is from a number of different angles! Good luck.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.