Are you enraptured with the idea of learning photography? Are you doing your best to learn what you can on your own, but are perhaps overwhelmed by the sheer volume of study material available?
Whether through magazines or textbooks, such volumes are a great way to discover the basics of photography, which you could then put into practice, either on a solo photo shoot or during a workshop, with a teacher.
Being a self-taught photographer is not uncommon; the only difficulty is choosing the right guidance.
The manuals you select to learn from will shape your skills set and experience behind the lens, so we urge you to choose your study materials carefully.
To that end, let us recommend the top books and magazines to learn the art of photography from!
The Best Photography Magazines
The art of photography today remains as it was in the day of William Fox Talbot: the pursuit of imprinting on a tangible medium what, until captured, could only be ephemerally discerned.
However, the technology that drives the art of photography is ever-changing: it seems there are new tricks, equipment and advances in the field every day!
Photography follows some of the greatest feats of engineering: rapid technical advances revolving around a centuries-old principle.
If that is the case, how can the amateur or professional photographer stay on the cutting edge of the discipline if it is ever-changing?
You could subscribe to these magazines, for a start...
Published quarterly, this magazine might overwhelm the amateur photographer, but satisfy the professional and the above-average outfitted weekend enthusiast.
In general, professional photographers would benefit the most from this publication, as it details top of the line cameras, lenses and other accessories.
Every issue has a nice how-to section that anyone with an eye for composition and the right equipment could follow.
If landscape photography, wildlife photography or creative photography is your bailiwick, you might find particular value in this periodical.
Here is why this magazine is a good choice for the advanced photographer as well as those who are planning to go pro:
- Annual subscription cost: £34.99 for 4 issues; or £10.99 quarterly
- Excellent kit reviews from professionals
- Relevant articles, tied to seasonal subjects
- How to photograph fall leaf colours, for example, or winter wildlife and nature photography
- All photos include shot details: how the photographer set his aperture and white balance; zoom and exposure time
- Practical experience articles, such as: timeless baby portraits, and articles on night photography
- Aimed at serious digital SLR enthusiasts and professionals
If you are just getting started in photography; only now discovering the joy of digital image capture, this may not be the mag for you.
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Most of the kit demonstrated or advertised within these pages is quite pricey, which could lead to frustration for those with limited resources, who might be just learning how to photograph.
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If you are cultivating your photography skills and wondering how far they will take you, you might benefit more from Digital Photographer's website.
There, you will find convenient subscription options – their quarterly or yearly offers, and occasional giveaways.
You can also access archived copies of past issues, or find articles on a particular topic that interests you.
Why not buy your first issue today, no matter what your level, just to get an idea of what gear pro photographers take to the field?
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Digital SLR Photography
This is the magazine created by professional photographers that covers everything from night photography to macro photography – the imaging of tiny particles, be they food, jewellery or insects.
With headliners such as Simple Steps to Creative Lighting, you know this publication is aimed at beginners, amateurs and maybe even students who are enroled in photography school.
As for you, you may want to photograph your pet, or learn how to use filters so you can shoot the sunset on the beach during your upcoming holiday.
If so, this is the magazine for you.
Among its features, you will find:
- Reader's showcase – send your pictures in for publication
- if you intend to go pro, this type of advertising can only help you!
- Most printed photos include shot details: how the photographer set the camera
- Panel review: amateurs send their images in for critique by expert photographers
- said experts recommend post processing tweaks to turn your nice image stunning.
- Kit reviews: everything from camouflage clothing for wildlife photography, to accessories
As it happens, Digital SLR is right now promoting its magazine for a special rate of 5 issues for £5!
You can order your issues to come by post, to your digital device, or both.
In summary: this magazine puts technique before the more the artistic and cultural aspects of photography.
Therefore, this publication presents a good opportunity to develop your skill and learn through concrete examples, including digital editing of images prior to submitting them for print and evaluation.
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Would you like to learn more about photo editing and post production, portraiture or nature photography, to become a professional photographer?
The opening pages of this magazine feature some stunning images captured by pros / semi-pros, which sets the tone for the quality of this mag.
They also indicate its target audience: intermediate to pro, and enthusiastic amateurs.
With the wealth of picture-worthy subject material around our country, it could be sometimes difficult to choose what to shoot; what specialty to settle focus on.
Practical Photography's segment, Photo Ideas, gives you a bit of technical suggestion – what filter to use and what setting for your camera's aperture.
Those experts then plow on through the garden, the woods and around town, capturing unique visions that you could recreate in your own milieu.
This publication puts heavy emphasis on Photoshop, as though it were the only editing software available.
Its sister magazine, Digital Photo, touts nothing but Adobe Photoshop, to the exclusion of all else, in spite of some excellent web-based image editing applications that come with tutorials.
Anyone who has undergone any photography training, knows that there is far more out there than Adobe products!
Still: this magazine's tutorials translate well to other applications, and it never hurts to know more about Adobe products, which are considered the industry's standard.
Highlights of this mag include:
- How to's: what to shoot and how best to shoot it
- Targeted to beginner photography; perhaps an amateur who has just enroled in photography courses
- Kit reviews: in-depth accounting of DSLR camera and accessories
- Relevant adverts: You won't see any Cartier watches or Rolls Royces among these pages!
- You will find camo gear, beanbags and studio lighting, though.
If your goal is to become a commercial photographer, a travel photographer or a photojournalist, this could become your go-to outlet for the latest and greatest of the trade.
Conversely, if you have no intention of going pro, you should check out:
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In print continuously for 125 years, this gem has kept photo enthusiasts informed of every aspect of their hobby.
Its sections are clearly marked, and they include: interviews with renown photographers, photographic equipment – where you could cast your vote for the best kit, how-to: a series of articles relevant to the season, and more!
There is even a review of smartphone cameras on their web page!
Highlights of this publication include:
- Separate sections for videography, photography, tutorials, and recommendations
- A readers' forum, where you can pose a question or detail your success in capturing a particularly difficult subject
- Icons of photography – articles about notable equipment or persons in the history of photography
- Photo Insight, a segment wherein photographers opine on a selected image, explaining both the technique and artistic representation.
- News – of events, of new product launches, of competitions; everything new about digital and film photography
This weekly publication is remarkable, not just for its content but for its longevity.
You may choose to enter its monthly competition, which is theme-based, for a shot at being named Amateur Photographer of the Year.
This competition is only open to amateurs, so if you earn your living by photographing subjects, you cannot earn this accolade.
A rolling subscription runs £22.24 per quarter, subject to automatic renewal.
A year's subscription realises you a 39% savings: 51 issues for £93.49
Now, let us look at rounding out your photography lessons with books that are considered must-have by anyone in the photography business.
The Best Books on Photography
Chris Gatcum: Complete Photography
Are you on the hunt for some of the recommended photography books; one that will instruct you on how to take quality snaps or even take professional quality shots?
Chris Gatcum offers accelerated photo training, especially designed for absolute beginners in the art of photography.
What is hyperfocal distance? What is a wireless flash trigger? When should you use a telephoto lens?
All of these questions and more are answered within the pages of this manual.
Why not let Chris Gatcum, with his more than 20 years of advanced photography, teach you everything you need to know about digital photography and the components that make up a digital camera?
This handy guide is sure to help you learn how to capture images, after just a few weeks of studying!
Between those covers you will find:
- Introduction to the basics of photography,
- Tips for working with natural light,
- Instructions for choosing camera settings,
- Explanations for exposure time,
- Instruction on HDR, white balance and exposure correction,
This book is fully illustrated to help you better understand what this master describes.
Investing in a copy of this work is akin to taking a photography class with a personal tutor, without subjecting yourself to a traditional learning environment.
If you have declared a photographic specialty – commercial photography, for example, or travel photography, you will see a dramatic improvement to your art after only a few hours of reading!
Scott Kelby: The Digital Photography Book
Why not learn photography in the company of a proven artist?
Known the world over for his work as a teacher of photography, Scott Kelby is the founder of Photoshop User Magazine, helping photographers improve their image editing in post-production.
Be it with Adobe Lightroom, InDesign or other web based software!
Let us not lose sight that, to become an artist, taking a beautiful photo is not an end in itself.
The majority of photo processing work takes place in the darkroom or on a computer, and it takes more than a measure of skill in order to get the best possible rendering.
In his illustrated book, Scott Kelby dispenses tips and tutelage, both for the photographer cradling a digital SLR camera for the first time, and for those who have never used any software to enhance an image.
Digesting this tome cover to cover will reveal:
- Basics of photography,
- Evaluations of different brands of cameras,
- Comparisons of digital devices,
- Narratives on studio photography,
- A particular focus that zooms in on the techniques of professional photographers,
- Illustrations, comprehensively drawn, to better understand the exercises.
Although this book ranks high with amateur photographers of all stripes, you should note that Scott Kelby's photography manual requires a certain amount of time in experimentation behind the lens before fully absorbing these teachings.
It would behoove you to study up on your camera's capabilities before applying the tips and instruction you will find in this book.
Bear in mind that any photo book is far from equalling a session in the company of a photography teacher.
However, a photography manual is an ideal tool to study between photography classes in school, or with an instructor at home.
Showing a bit of incentive through independent study will help you progress faster.
Becoming an ace in photojournalism or portrait photography will happen much sooner if you combine photography lessons with a few hours of weekly reading.
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