Resources: 'Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs' / by 3.1

When people ask me about advice on photography, I'm always reluctant to give any. It's not that I'm being selfish or anything like that, but more the fact that as a self-taught photographer, I'm nervous about dishing up bad advice and bad habits as everything that I know that helps me get by, both in film and in digital, has been amassed by simply doing. Trial and error over a period of time can be a great teacher.

That said, when by doing something you still don't get the required results, the effort into doing a little research will no doubt have to be made. The Internet of course is a great resource, but someone asked very recently if I could recommend any books to help. So rather than attempting to dish out half-baked advice, I'll be making a book recommendation or two from time to time under the 'Resources' tag, and these will most probably be books on my own bookshelf that I have for reference or inspiration.

The first book I'd like to recommend is Henry Carroll's 'Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs' (Paperback, Lawrence King Publishing, ISBN: 9781780673356). This was a very recent acquisition to my bookshelf, but having flicked through it I do wish I'd come across something like this when I was a lot younger. A lot of photography books that I grew with were proper hardback tomes that read more like a reference manual than anything else ('The New Photographer's Handbook' (Third Edition) by John Hedgecoe springs to mind) and whilst it was full of useful information, it wasn't very engaging for an 11-year-old me.

A great resource for both beginners and the more experienced shooter (and all the tips work with film or digital too), Henry Carroll's book is something you can take out with you into the real world as a textbook full of exercises and activities you can practice with, or as a 'how-to' guide that can be easily be read during a morning commute. The book is laid out in such a way that you have a task, idea or skill explained in plain English on one page, with a corresponding photograph as an example on the opposite page. The great thing about the photographs is that they're a selection from the greats like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams, so you can randomly flick to any page in the book to find some inspiration.

There are also few pages where Carroll explains some of the technical basics like aperture and shutter speed, as well as some of the basic camera modes, like Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority, and he does this in such a great way that even as a beginner you will be able to decide what is best for you beyond the out-of-the-box automatic functions. In fact, most of the technical details are easy to read and very clear, so this may help with those of you looking for a bit more clarity where you may have started off with reference manual-esque books.

Pick up a copy from Waterstones, or any other decent bookseller or library.

Much love (and I hope this helps you, anonymous requester of books!)

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