The Strobist Bookshelf

Listed below are what I consider to be some of the best books about lighting and related subjects. Some of the books have more detailed reviews elsewhere in the blog -- see embedded links.

This list is updated occasionally.

Books and DVDs on Lighting

McNally's book, The Moment it Clicks, is the best photo/lighting book I have seen in a long time. And by a "long time" I mean, well, ever.

He has completely opened up his photographer brain for your inspection. The photos are great, and the stories are even better. If you can only afford to get one book as you are cruising through this book faves page, get this one. Full review is here.

Barely a year after releasing The Moment it Clicks, McNally released The Hot Shoe Diaries, which as the name implies, focuses exclusively on speedlight techniques. As much as you would think these two books overlap, they actually don't. They are alike and different, and together are the two best photographic lighting technique books I have ever seen.

Do yourself a favor and don't choose -- buy both.

Together they comprise a career's worth of knowledge from one of the most consistently good lighting photographers in the game. The fact that they are both also wonderfully funny reads is a bonus.

Behind all of Joe's self-deprecating, sometimes infantile humor lies the mind of a master lighting photographer. And with a careful read of these books, you might pick up some of Joe's legendary skills at making interesting photos come together, too. There is much more to that than lighting ratios.

Hot Shoe Diaries is more fully reviewed here. And like Moment it Clicks, I could not recommend it more highly.

If you feel like you are ready to jump whole hog into the deep end, Lighting in Layers is the official Strobist video course. It's not a start-from-absolute-zero thing; you should be at least somewhat familiar with the Lighting 101 series of posts first. But if you are looking for a fully immersive small-flash lighting course, this is it.

Six full location shoots on 6 DVDs, the series is a 360-degree look at using small-flashes on location—with lots of extras.

Available as a 6+1 DVD set or an instant download, you'll find full information here.

Canon's flash system, which works completely differently from that of Nikon, can be jungle of confusion for many photographers. The long-awaited Speedliter's Handbook: Learning to Craft Light with Canon Speedlites, by Syl Arena, is the Canon Flash Bible. Syl goes under the hood to help you get a much better understanding of your Canon flashes, how they work, and how to make them sing.

It's nearly 400 pages of plain-English how-to's, diagrams and near-encyclopedic Canon knowledge. As an example of the level of detail, Speedliter's Handbook has what is easily the best discussion on pro's and cons of the various types of batteries -- complete with the details of the corresponding torture tests that were required to get the info.

There are several good resources for Nikon flashes. But if you shoot Canon, this is the book that should be on your list.

In 2009 we sold our house in the middle of the worst real estate market in a generation. Even so, we had heavy traffic -- and multiple offers over the asking price within two weeks. I am convinced this is because I spent two days photographing my house to make sure our home stood out from the pack of crappy real estate pictures.

If you (or your spouse) is a real estate agent, you want to learn to shoot real estate or you just might sell your house one day, The Essential Guide to Lighting Interiors (eBook, with 30-day, money-back guarantee) is a no-brainer.

In it, San Francisco-based interiors photographer Scott Hargis guides you step-by-step how to make beautiful interior or real estate photography using just a few small flashes. It is not hard. And the difference could mean big bucks if you are selling your house. I truly believe it did for me.

It's not every day you get a chance to do a shoot that could essentially put an additional $10,000 in your pocket. Don't blow it.


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