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Given the fact that we’re all now stuck inside for an indefinite amount of time, it seems like as good a time as any to compile a “best photography books” list.
These photography books will give you something to look forward to during the pandemic because we made sure to only choose photography books that we feel will either directly or indirectly teach you something profound about photography.
Some of them are Amazon best selling photography books, while others of them are obscure (and expensive).
Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book
Our first photography book, Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book, directly teaches readers nearly everything there is to know about photoshop.
Traditionally, I’ve relied on YouTube videos, but Photoshop books provide a better all-around classroom experience because they provide you with project-based lessons to teach you different techniques.
This just so happens to be one of our favorite photography books for beginners as well, since the authors assume you know nothing about Photoshop. However, if you do know a little bit more about Photoshop, the authors thought of you too and created a loophole to allow you to skip lessons you already understand.
While I prefer my photography books to be in hard copy, this is one of the many digital photography books on our list (you can grab a Kindle edition).
Understanding Exposure is another one of our best photography books for beginners because it basically acts as an Exposure 101 course.
Understanding Exposure is by no means one of the best photography books for beginners in 2020, considering the original was published in 1990 and has taught three generations of photographers everything they know about exposure in the worst of lighting circumstances.
But, this edition is updated and includes information about exposure in all sorts of recent photography fads, like shooting star trails.
If you’ve ever struggled with exposure, then this is one of the best photography books for you.
The Photoshop Elements 2020 Book for Digital Photographers
Here’s another Photoshop book worth the read… the Photoshop Elements 2020 Book for Digital Photographers.
While this book isn’t actually published by Adobe (it’s written by Scott Kelby, who teaches Photoshop on a professional level), it does cover the practical side of Elements.
For instance, if you’re looking for digital photography books that cover all of the nitty-gritty info you could ever possibly need to know about specific Elements features then this is not the book for you. But, if you’re looking for digital photography books that practically walk you through questions you and everyone else on the planet has about Elements, then this is one of the best photography books for you.
The Photoshop Elements 2020 Book for Digital Photographers is $35 on Amazon.
How Do I Do That in Photoshop?
How Do I Do That in Photoshop is yet another one of the Photoshop books that made our list, and for good reason. This book, which was also written by Scott Kelby, acts as an encyclopedia for photographers.
I keep my edition sitting right next to my work computer because it is specifically designed to allow you to get the answer to the Photoshop question you’re having right this minute.
If you’ve ever felt “stuck” while working in Photoshop, it may be because you’ve never encountered one of Kelby’s Photoshop books.
How Do I Do That in Photoshop is on Amazon for $20.
Extraordinary Everyday Photography
“Photographers are a traveling bunch. We go places to capture the light, the landscape, the wildlife, and the people. Many photographers travel quite a distance to make their pictures, seeking out exotic locations. But do we have to go far to find interesting things to photograph?”
This is how Extraordinary Everyday Photography opens, with a call to action.
Extraordinary Everyday Photography is hands down one of the best photography books you could have during a pandemic.
While learning about Photoshop theory from Photoshop books is helpful in the long-run, every once and a while you want one of the best photography books for reigniting your creativity.
Like, you want a photography book that is going to give you projects you can do from your studio apartment to improve your work and that is this book.
Extraordinary Everyday Photography is also just $20 on Amazon.
Photography: A Cultural History
If you’re not really looking for one of the best photography books to teach you, but rather one of the best photography books to inspire you then Photography: A Cultural History may be right up your alley.
Written by an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writer, this is one of the most comprehensive books on the history of photography ever written.
It begins with the advent of photography, and then contextualizes every single period of photography from multiple continents allowing the reader to be fully immersed in each era.
It works as a reference book, a coffee table book, or an educational textbook, and definitely deserves its place on our best photography books 2020 list.
Photography: A Cultural History is one of those rare pieces you can brag about to your photography friends, but this also means that it’s going to cost you $150.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Classroom in a Book
So, you have your Photoshop books picked out, but what about Lightroom? Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Classroom in a Book is also published by Adobe and is full of lessons (12 in-depth ones to be precise) that will teach you how to use Lightroom as effectively as possible.
This is one of our best photography books because it’s technically a little bit more than a book; it comes with downloadable lessons that allow you to work through the book in a very hands-on manner.
Or, you can opt for the web edition which also comes with quizzes so you can test yourself on your newfound knowledge.
While I wouldn’t necessarily be a big fan of tests I didn’t have to take, I found this book to be one of the best photography books for beginners in 2020 (it was just released).
You can buy Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Classroom in a Book off of Amazon for $50.
Seizing the Light: A Social & Aesthetic History of Photography
While you don’t need Photography: A Cultural History and Seizing the Light, you definitely need one of them and this book gives Photography: A Cultural History a run for its money.
Seizing the Light is also a comprehensive history of photography book. It also happens to be one of the Amazon best selling photography books of this year.
It sometimes reads like a textbook, but generally reads like a Ted Talk and informs as well as stimulates.
Learning to See Creatively
This is one of the best photography books for beginners and one of the best photography books for professionals because Learning to See Creatively helps you to gain your artistic perspective, or revise it after years of monotony.
It just so happens to be written by the author of Understanding Exposure, but is much less technical. Instead of teaching you how to shoot with a specific camera, Learning to See Creatively teaches you how to pay attention to the world around you.
The whole aim of the book is to get readers to never again ask the question: “Why didn’t I see that?”
Learning to See Creatively is just $18 on Amazon.
Rounding out our best photography books list is Criticizing Photographs. Aptly named, this photography book shows readers how to criticize both others' photographs and their own work through the lenses of describing, interpreting, evaluating and theorizing.
It’s short and sweet and acts like a pocketbook of photography vocabulary allowing you to always have the correct words at your next photography networking happy hour.
Criticizing Photographs is $25 right now.