9 Best Photography Books to Improve Your Photography

Photography books to improve your images
Since our last post of 5 Must-Read Photography Books was so popular we decided to add a few more books to the list.

1. The Luminous Portrait by Elizabeth Messina

Allison Jacob’s Favorite
The Luminous Portrait
It was so exciting to get to hear Elizabeth Messina speak at WPPI this past year. She reviewed how she set up some of her favorite images including her camera, settings, and thoughts behind creating the images. So, when I learned she had published a book, The Luminous Portrait: Capture the Beauty of Natural Light for Glowing, Flattering Photographs, I knew it would be on my list. She writes in details about the process behind getting her images including locations, lighting, and camera settings (she usually shoots film but she does discuss some tips for digital shooting in her book as well). Her work is truly inspirational and she talks about finding your own vision and style. In her book she discusses how to find your own vision by looking within and provides questions to ponder to help you shoot with authenticity. She goes through different types of portraits from children to weddings and provides insight into making the most of each type creatively. If you are looking for some beautiful images shot by an artist who truly knows how to use the light around her then this is a book to pick up!

2. Expressive Photography, The Shutter Sister’s Guide to Shooting from the Heart by The Shutter Sisters

Jen Bacher’s Favorite
Expressive Photography, The Shutter Sister’s Guide to Shooting from the Heart
Expressive Photography, The Shutter Sister’s Guide to Shooting from the Heart is a beautiful and inspiring photography book that is filled with touching images and words that speak to the soul. It is an extension of the Shutter Sister’s blog and includes chapters on shooting horizons, portraits, nature, stillness, documentary, childhood, and more. This book challenges you to see things differently and to approach your subjects with a more compassionate lens. One thing I really like about it (besides all the eye candy) is it has small highlighted boxes throughout that gives you tips on how you can create similar shots. It’s also the perfect size and has a captivating cover that anyone would be proud to display in their home as a coffee table book!

3. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby

Laurie Flickinger’s Favorite
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 for Digital Photographers
Recently, I have started using Lightroom for editing my raw files. Another Click It Up a Notch contributor, Elicia, recommended Scott Kelby’s book: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 for Digital Photographers as a good place to start. While I had the basics of raw editing down from years of using Photoshop ACR, I was clueless as how to set up the Lightroom catalog and folders, as well as understanding what some of the new sliders that were different from ACR. This book saved me a ton of time and frustration. If you have ever read anything else from Scott Kelby, this book is the same. He is straight forward, simply stated, and easy to understand. His books offer step by step instructions as well as screen shots as visuals, which makes it easy to follow. It’s my Lightroom 4 manual and go to when I have questions.

4. People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs by Chris Orwig

Courtney Slazinik’s Favorite
People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs
I’m a sucker for a book that will give me daily assignments or tasks. That was one of the reasons I purchased People Pictures: 30 Exercises for Creating Authentic Photographs. Besides the amazing images throughout the book, I love the tips he offers to capture an authentic photograph. Isn’t that what we all want in the end? He covers a variety of topics and exercises to help push you to capture the best possible image. I have yet to work through the whole book but that is another reason I enjoy it. I can put it down and pick it up a few weeks later when I’m ready for another task. This is a great book to do with a few friends to help push your creativity and improve your photography skills. Maybe we can do it as a group here on Click it Up a Notch sometime in the future.

More must-read photography books

To read about 5 more photography books you need to check out be sure to read – 5 must-read photography books.

And one of my new favorites, The Unexpected Everyday.

What is your favorite photography book?

*These links are affiliate links. Thank you in advance if you decide to purchase something and support Click it Up a Notch.

  • June 4, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    these have all been on my wish list for some time. i also want to read Elevate the Everyday by shutter sister Tracy Clark.

    • Courtney Slazinik
      June 7, 2013 at 2:19 PM

      I haven’t heard of that one. Will have to check it out! Thanks!

  • June 4, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Great suggestions– you just gave me several titles for my wish list!

    My all-time favorite is “Understanding Exposure” by Bryan Peterson. It was the first photography book I read cover-to-cover, and I still refer to it frequently. He’s written several that I consider essential, but this one is my desert island photography book.

    Thanks for the fabulous list!

    • Courtney Slazinik
      June 7, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Understanding Exposure is a great one for sure! Thanks!

  • June 10, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    I’d like the Shutter Sister’s one some time. They’re pretty nifty.

    • Courtney Slazinik
      June 17, 2013 at 4:45 PM

      Thanks! I’ll have to check them out!

  • July 4, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    I have been asked to do a reunion for a family friend, and not sure how to go about it.

  • Angela
    December 3, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    I recently started reading Picture Perfect Practice by Roberto Valenzuela and love it! Another book with exercises to complete after each lesson. Thanks for this list, there are a few that I will add to my wish list :)

  • May 21, 2014 at 4:31 AM

    Awesome list, thanks for sharing. Where’s Gina Milicia’s book? :D

  • July 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Picture Perfect Practice and Picture Perfect Posing by Roberto Valenzuela. HIGLY recommend!!!!! If you truly want to learn, these are the books to buy.

  • Marnie
    July 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Fixing of a Shadow

  • July 29, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    A nice listing of books! I’ll definitely need to check out “The Luminous Portrait” as I’m interested in work with natural light. Here’s a list of some of my favs:

    1. “Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling” by Helene Dujardin
    2. “Tao of Photography” by Philippe L. Gross and S.I. Shapiro
    3. “Take Your Best Shot” and “The Complete Photo Manual” both by Popular Photography Magazine
    4. “Basics: Creative Photography Design Principles” by Jeremy Webb

    Great books all around when in need of inspiration or a few quick tips to improve your technique. I also like Bryan Peterson’s books as well. Thanks for sharing your list!

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  • Susan
    April 5, 2016 at 3:17 PM

    I read another book by Scott Kilby and wasn’t impressed. As an amateur/hobbyist, I was confused by some of his tips…such as ‘don’t bother learning manual.’ He suggested that the program modes covered everything you needed. It was disheartening since I’m still learning manual and practicing as much as possible, and he didn’t spend much on it.

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    Chris Orwig is an amazing educator. Not only is that a great book, but his Lynda.com videos are also a great resource. I’ll have to take a closer looking ok to the other books on this list. Thank You for the tip.

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