The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Photography Essentials

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Photography Essentials (Complete Idiot's Guide to)The folks at the Complete Idiot’s Guides picked the right guy to cover Photography Essentials. Mark Jenkinson is a photographer of the first order, routinely shooting for big name magazines like Maxim, Time and Vogue.

You might think that Jenkinson would jump to advanced concepts based on his own work, but he’s done a wonderful job of putting together a beginner-to-intermediate manual for photographers. Even if you have a certain level of photography experience, this book will still have plenty to offer.

The table of contents reads like an exceptionally user-friendly textbook:

  • Basic Equipment
  • Optics
  • Exposure
  • Formats
  • Rules & Conventions
  • Light
  • Photographing People
  • Photographing Events
  • Travel & Landscape Photography
  • Still Life Photography
  • Arching
  • Next Steps

The writing style mirrors that approach, without suffering from the condescension many photography textbooks seem to ooze. Instead, this guide is a friendly manual. An added bonus is that Jenkinson does not assume that every beginning photographer will have a bag full of expensive equipment. He offers practical advice that does not require spending a fortune.

Take light meters, for example: Jenkinson gives a great overview of the average metering options on an SLR. He also makes mention of handheld light meters, but doesn’t make them an integral part of his discussion of the subject.

There’s an added bonus with Photography Essentials. The book is full of beautiful color photography, illustrating Jenkinson’s points. It’s always easier to learn a photographic technique when you know the end result you’re aiming for. The photos in this book making it an excellent teaching tool.

Despite my own photography experience, I feel like I learned plenty from his tips on shooting in different types of light. I have a feeling I’ll be dragging this book out as an essential reference for quite a while to come. I’m also asking my photography professor from back in the day to replace his textbook with Jenkinson’s book — it’s a much better introduction overall.