Photo & Video Recommended Reading List

Photography by Taichiro Ueki

The Instructors here at Tuts+ Photo & Video are a diverse crew. Though we come from different walks of life, one thing we share is our love of books: photo and video books.

I asked our Instructors about their favourite books on learning how to make photos and video, and here are the results! This is the Tuts+ annotated reading list of great books for learning to make photo and video, broken down into handy sections:
  1. All About Light
  2. Photographic Craft: Traditions and Practice
  3. Living the Decisive Moment
  4. Embracing Film and Video
  5. Navigating the Perils of Post-Production
  6. The Business of Image Making
  7. Understanding the Nature of Images

Light Science and Magic

The book about light. If you really want to understand light at a fundamental level and how to use it, this is the book for you. Highly recommended.

Big light from small flashes. First read Light, Science and Magic, then put everything to practice with this book. Recommended by Ben Lucas.
The man. The mullet. The teaching is excellent, the photos exceptional and the author's mullet unequalled. Recommended by Harry Guinness.

Digital Photography by Bruce Warren

If you can buy only one textbook about photography, this is the one to get. Straightforward, practical, and clear instruction from start to finish. This book covers the fundamentals so well I still sometimes consult my copy from ten years ago. The current edition is up-to-date with digital technology and practices
Even if you aren't a photojournalist, the technique and approaches in this book will help anyone getting into assignment photography - whether it's editorial or commercial.

Colourful and alive, this book is a must-read for anyone engaged in recording the world around them.
The studio-photographer's cookbook. Lots of great recipes to get you started. Recommended by Ben Lucas.
An insight into the human side of photography rather than the technical. Recommended by Ben Lucas.
All about how to understand the language of cities in 100 quick lessons. If you're someone who is interested in street photography or architecture this is your handbook to urban visual communication.
An in-depth book through the last century of photography about the perception of images, how they capture our world, how they relate to one another and the evolution of photographic themes. Recommended by Simon Bray.
The inner working of the art photography magazine is illuminated this collection of interviews and illustrations.

Magnum Stories

Go inside Magnum through 61 'photo story' master classes with photographers from the legendary photo collective.
History, inspiration, biographies-a great intro to photojournalism. Recommended by Lauren Justice.
Interviews with photographers from LIFE magazine. Recommended by Lauren Justice.
A look at how stories have evolved at National Geographic magazine. Recommended by Lauren Justice.
A surprising book of true short stories from photographers about the pictures they saw but didn't take. Pocketable. Great for passing the time when you're waiting for something photographic to happen.

In the Blink of an Eye

Documentary is the root of all cinema, so if you're thinking of getting into film making start here! Great sections about finding your voice, direction, and building your team.
A great introduction book to cinematography with DSLRs, also covers gear. Recommended by Charles Yeager.
A handbook for cameramen and camerawomen. All go to proceeds to the Rory Peck Trust. Recommended by Slavik Boyechko.

What is editing all about? In his short but highly influential book, acclaimed Hollywood editor Walter Murch shares his simple, effective, and emotional editing process. Written for film editing, but equally interesting and applicable to photo editing.
A book that takes you through the evolution of Wes Anderson and his films-great for seeing where he started and how he grew into where he is today. Handwritten break downs of soundtracks, story boarding, thought processes, inspiration. Many interviews included. A good way to see how all the pieces of a film fit together and how initial styles can be strengthened and used throughout multiple films. Recommended by Lauren Justice.

Publish Your Photograph Book

Digital asset management for photographers. Everyone who makes more than 100 pictures a year should read this book. Recommended by Andrew Childress.
Compositing isn't really complicated. It's taking a lot of tiny steps, treating them like building blocks, and putting them together to make something great. This book goes over those fundamental building blocks. Recommended by Ben Lucas.
What the titles says! Everything you need to know to get your book into the world.


Everything about working as an artist except how to make art. Essential reading if you want to build a healthy career and get your work seen.

A good place to start for the starving artist who doesn't want to starve anymore. Recommended by Ben Lucas.
A lot of important life lessons for work put together into two short and easily digestible books. Favourite lesson: "The Tone is in your Fingers". Recommended by Harry Guinness and Andrew Childress, respectively.

Comprehensive tips and advice on the business side of photography. Recommended by Lauren Justice.

What It Is

A wonderfully illustrated guide to why and how the photographic medium works. Short and sweet.
The best book about images, imagination, memory, and art that I have ever read. Richly illustrated and touching, this book is a personal, and practical, journey of discovery. Barry asks, but it's you who find the answer: What is that formless thing which gives things form? See also Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book and Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor
What It Is covers the same topic in a much more interesting and engaging way, but if you want to hold your weight when talking with art-school grads a quick read about Barthes' "punctum" (or the spirit of an image) will go a long way. Understanding punctum also helps to train your eye to look for the core of an image, and discern between images, quickly and effectively.

An essential, critical look at the aesthetic and moral problems of photography.
Now that we are one foot firmly into in the digital age, what is photography becoming? Is digital photography a fundamentally new medium?

Also an illustrated guide to understand how and why photographs work. Anything but short, still a fascinating read for those with an addiction to the mysteries of photography.
Capturing the Light: The Birth of Photography
A history book about the invention of photography and the controversy of who really came up with it first! Recommended by Marie Gardiner.

Do you have a favourite book about learning to make photos and video? Let us know!


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