Still photography is full of lessons — about framing, lighting, depth of field — that filmmakers draw from all the time. If you’re thinking of getting into the field, film photography books are a great way to help improve your craft. Regardless of whether you’re currently in school for photography, or are merely interested in the genre, you can’t go wrong by stocking up on some necessary reading materials. Below find seven film photography books that any photographer can learn from, and for more great reading recommendations check out our list of best screenwriting books, and essential books for TV writers. For additional shopping suggestions, check out our roundup of durable film photography cameras, and best cameras for any budget.
If you’re curious about film photography, “The Film Photography Handbook” is a good place to start. Authors Chris Marquardt and Monika Andrae offer an easy-to-understand, complete resource to shooting film, which includes important differences between film and digital photography, film formats, film cameras to buy, and how to shoot and process black-and-white film at home. This 2019 updated and expanded edition, addresses topics such as as the hybrid film/digital workflow, digitizing negatives, as well as using smartphones for light metering and to assist in film processing.
“Medium Format Film Photography” by Jeff Stefan
A solid choice for amateurs, “Medium Format Film Photography” goes beyond the world of 35mm film. The book includes essentials of film photography, different medium format cameras to use, how to set exposure on your camera using a light meter, developing black and white negatives, photographing, negatives digitally, and how to convert your negatives to positives in Lightroom, and process your images.
“Mastering Film Photography: A Definitive Guide for Photographers” by Chris Gatcum
“Mastering Film Photography,” will give you a fast-track guide to shooting emulsion in the digital age. The book provides a crash course in how film works, choosing the ideal camera, and overcoming the challenges of getting the exposure right when there’s no instant feedback. Also featured in the book: how to use flash systems in the pre-TTL era, the importance of filters before Instagram, and the world of lensless photography.
“The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression” by Bruce Barnham
Although it’s not explicitly about film photography, “The Art of Photography: A Personal Approach to Artistic Expression” is still worth a read. Originally published in 1994 and first revised in 2010, the book features nearly 200 beautiful both black-and-white and color photographs, plus numerous charts, graphs, and tables, presenting the world of photography to beginner, intermediate, and advanced photographers.
“What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School” by Demetrius Fordham
From talented amateur to respected pro, “What They Didn’t Teach You in Photo School: The Secrets of the Trade that Will Make You a Success in the Industry” unlocks the trade secrets to building your own brand and business. The book is packed with hard-earned lessons from author Demetrius Fordham’s successful career as a commercial, editorial, and lifestyle photographer. Tips in the book include how to snag the best internships and assistant positions, and developing an amazing portfolio to lay the groundwork for your own successful career.
“The Camera” by Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams, the late photographer behind some of the most iconic photos of the 20th century, authored a trio of illustrated books to help harness any photographer’s creative potential. “The Camera,” which is the first in the series, offers a timeless masterclass gained from a lifetime of photography. It covers 35mm, medium-format and large-format view cameras, along with offering detailed advice on camera components such as lenses, shutters, and light meters.
“The Negative” takes on artificial and natural light, film and exposure, darkroom equipment, and techniques. Lastly, “The Print,” offers a step-by-step guide through everything from designing and furnishing a darkroom to mounting and displaying your photographs, making your first print, and mastering advanced techniques. The illustrated guide is filled with indispensable darkroom techniques and tips, and shows how printmaking can be used expressively to enhance an image. You can buy all three books for around $70.
“Film Photography: How to Develop Analog Photography Films” by Eric Anderson
Digital photography has evolved into the more popular genre, but analog photography is an art form still worth pursuing. Eric Anderson’s “Film Photography: How to Develop Analog Photography Films” teaches you how to process and develop analog films, even if you don’t have experience. Readers will learn how easy it is to develop black-and-white film at home (including necessary equipment), the cost of processing the film, how to feed the film, how to fix and dry the film, as well as how to scan negatives, colorizing analog images, and much more.