I know somebody who is a keen photographer with, I think, an exceptional eye for artistic composition but who takes most (all?) of her photographs on Auto. I want to get her a book (for Christmas) to introduce her to the more technical side of photography : apertures, f-stops, depth of field, shutter speeds, film speed (in the digital age), white balance, filters, etc, etc. However, she is one of the least technically minded people I know. So that's what I'm looking for : recommendations for a technical photography book that's ideal for a non-technically-minded person.

As such, if you have, say, a PhD in engineering (like me), then I'm not really interested in hearing your recommendation, unless you are recommending a book that you've seen really help someone else you know who is very different from you. If, on the other hand, you would describe yourself as technophobic, or at least technically non-inclined, and you found a particular book very useful, then you are exactly the sort of person I want to hear from.

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Maybe as an alternative to a book, although probably more expensive, I quite like the format and easy explanations along with examples that the karltaylorphotography.co.uk DVDs have. The first is very much explaining apertures and shutter speeds etc etc and all the basics of cameras which your friend would easily understand. Whether she'd find the next two interesting I'm not sure as it's mainly examples and techniques of getting different kinds of shots. Example videos on the site though
    – Dreamager
    Oct 30, 2011 at 11:18
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    Karl's videos are great, but they are pricey. The "Introduction to Photography" video covers a lot, though (exposure, DoF, ISO, composition and lighting) -- and it's great that he goes out of his way to use a low-end DSLR in a couple of the segments. (The "kiwi slices" macro abstract piece is an especially good incentive for a beginner.)
    – user2719
    Oct 31, 2011 at 4:12

3 Answers 3


I think the Scott Kelby Digital Photography Book series fits the bill here. These aren't books that I really enjoy or appreciate myself as technical person, but I know they are technically accurate, and they intentionally aim for an approachable, non-technical style. The "elevator pitch" for the series is:

If you and I were out on a shoot, and you asked me, 'Hey, how do I get this flower to be in focus, but I want the background out of focus?' I wouldn't stand there and give you a lecture about aperture, exposure, and depth of field. In real life, I'd just say, "Get out your telephoto lens, set your f/stop to f/2.8, focus on the flower, and fire away." You d say, "OK," and you'd get the shot. That's what this book is all about. A book of you and I shooting, and I answer the questions, give you advice, and share the secrets I've learned just like I would with a friend, without all the technical explanations and without all the techno-photo-speak.

This is a way your friend might learn some of the technical details without approaching them from an engineering direction.

  • I'll second the Kelby books. They're simple without ever actually lying to anybody, and pretty much cover the gamut of "normal" photography -- a little portraiture, a little landscape, a little still life, etc., in each of the books.
    – user2719
    Oct 31, 2011 at 4:06

John Hedgecoe's New Manual of Photography is an excellent guide to all aspects of photography (both technical and creative) that I would say is suitable for your friend. Each topic (eg. aperture, shutter speed) is covered on its own page, in plain layman's English and with lots of pictures and illustrations.

Whilst I'm not at all the technophobe you were hoping would reply, I've recommended this book to others who are and they've found it very helpful.


A book I really enjoyed having and reading is Digital Photography by Steve Luck. I came across with it while being on vacation this year. I know that your post is obsolete, but it may help other people instead.

  • No need to apologize for answering an old question if it adds something new — this isn't a traditional webforum and that's actually welcome and encouraged here. But could you explain a little more about why you like and recommend this book, and why it fits this request in particular?
    – mattdm
    Jul 12, 2014 at 14:33
  • I'm glad to hear that, mattdm. I like the book, because it is neat and well-organized into very specific chapters, with examples illustrated, and you can use it like an encyclopedia if you want. It also puts everything in a wonderful helpful order for the reader to go through. The same applies for a new photography book I had the chance to come across and buy - Complete digital Photography by Ben Long. I think that it is also very well-organized and serves like an encyclopedia for you to refer to if necessary. The chapters are also very well written with examples. Both are in very good prices.
    – Morpho
    Jul 13, 2014 at 10:33

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