“How To” Book Recommendations: People Photography

People Photography Books

More photos are taken of people than any other photograph subject. If you want to improve your photographs of people, there are some excellent books to help you do that.

It helps to have a basic understanding of metering, lighting, and the fundamentals of people photography. A good introduction is in Digital photography Exposure for Dummies.  Read the chapters on metering, lighting, and people photography.  Then you can move on to some specialized books.

For sheer inspiration covering the whole realm of people photography, both casual and formal, it is hard to beat The Joy of Photographing People by Kodak. The wealth of photos will give you a lot of ideas and there are plenty of suggestions for taking better photos of people. For a book more focused the art of portrait photography, read The Portrait: Professional Techniques and Practices in the excellent Kodak Workshop Series. Both of these excellent Kodak books are out of print but you can find them on the used market. Just chose these books in my photography store and click on the “Buy at Amazon.com” button.

Robert Caputos National Geographic Field Guide: People & Portraits is a good, brief introduction to people photography.

Steve Sint’s Digital Portrait Photography: Art, Business, and Style is a more detailed look a formal portrait photography. This book is targeted at people who want to do portrait photography as a business, but don’t let that stop you from reading this book. The majority of the chapters aren’t about starting a business. All of the information on equipment, lighting, and posing are excellent for anyone who wants to create quality portraits. If you only buy one detailed book on portrait photography, this should be it.

To dig deeper into portrait photography, you will need to read specialized books on lighting, posing, and digital retouching. Here are some of the best.

Studio lighting is a one of the keys to great portrait photography, and the more you learn about it the better. One of the best books is Christopher Grey’s  Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers. Then read Christopher Grey’s Studio Lighting Techniques for Photography: Tricks of the Trade for Professional Digital Photographers

To learn how to pose people, read Jeff Smith’s Posing for Portrait Photography: A Head-to-Toe Guide and Lou Jacob’s The Art of Posing.

If you are experienced with Photoshop and you are ready for some advanced techniques for editing photos of people, read Skin (2nd version), by Lee Varis and Rick Sammon. The title and cover photo are provocative, but there are a lot of really useful ideas. One of them is color correcting “skin by the numbers” by adjusting the CMYK values. Not many books tell you how to adjust CMYK values for people with different ethnic backgrounds.  Another excellent advanced book is Kevin Ames’ Adobe Photoshop CS2: The Art of Photographing Women.

For wedding photography, start with The Art of Wedding Photography: Professional Techniques with Style by Cantrell, Cohen, and Reggie.  It is an older book but it has a lot of excellent suggestions.


You can learn more about all of these books, and order them, by going to the people photography section of my photography store. It is powered by Amazon.com so you get Amazon’s great prices, fast delivery, excellent service, and first class guarantee.

The “best of the best” photography gear, books, accessories, and online photo labs:  a series of articles.