Knowing that I’m into my photography, the other day a couple of colleagues asked me if I had any recommendations for those just getting started in photography.

They were mainly interested in “how to” books however one of the things that has helped me the most over the years is mixing with other photographers. Everyone has their own interests and as a result tends to build up knowledge and skills in a specific area. Its rare that when meeting up with a group of photographers I don’t leave with some new idea or skill to try. A great resource for bringing photographers together is of course Flickr. The massive variety of groups almost guarantees that whatever your focus or interest there will be a Flickr group already set up. Location based groups are also a good resource and if you’re lucky to have an active Flickr group in your local area (as I am with the Leeds group) there are plenty of opportunities to meet up and learn new skills.

But back to the request from my colleagues – beginners books. After a bit of a think I would recommend the following three publications for anyone just starting out.

Digital Photography Masterclass – Tom Ang

I like this book because Tom Ang has a great way of explaining complicated subjects.

The book provides clear tutorials on technical elements from exposure to colour balance and genres from fine art to sports photography. In addition,  after learning a skill he sets you an assignment – a chance to go and put what you’ve just learned to good use. This is then followed by sample images he gathered from other regular photographers which he uses to illustrate how they approached the same assignment.

The Digital Photography Book(s) – Scott Kelby

Another great book for beginners although this is a little thin and you’ll easily get through it in one reading. That said, there are three books in this series so you might want to look at the others too.

The beauty of this book is that each page is a single tip. Short, sweet and to the point. As a result, whilst the tips are great and there’s something for everyone, those familiar with their camera may be slightly disappointed by the lack of additional information. Still its a great book to start with if you want to learn about your cameras features and functions.

40 Digital Photography Techniques for Beginners – John Kim

This book gets straight to the point and provides you with easy to follow and useful tutorials on how to get the best out of your camera and how to improve your skills.

The 40 techniques cover everything from how to compose good shots, play with light and shoot close-ups, to capturing motion, experimenting with filters, and more. If you have a compact camera which doesn’t provide much control over the shutter times, aperture, etc then some of the content may not be appropriate, however there are still great sections on framing your shot and making the most of available light to make the book worthwhile.