This post has been on my to do list for a while now (okay, years), and to be honest it’s ALWAYS changing! When I first started around 2010, I stalked every single photography blog I could find and pretty much read and watched whatever they told me to! There are definitely way more resources out there now, but I wanted to take a post to shout out to the resources that shaped who I am as a photographer, a business owner, and frankly…a person! I love connecting with photographers who are just starting out, and I truly believe that the best thing you can do as a budding photographer is to soak up ALL the knowledge! It doesn’t do to just haul the fancy camera out every once in a while. You have to read that manual, learn from the pros, read all the books, watch people in action…and then do the same thing for business knowledge. It can be so overwhelming but hopefully this little list will give you some direction! These are my favorite books and educational videos that I think anyone who wants to learn how to be a wedding or portrait photographer needs to experience. They definitely shaped me and taught me the kind of business I wanted to create, as well as how to create the types of images I wanted to create! Read on…and then KEEP reading!
The Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders
I’ve blogged about this book a few times, and I remember first blogging about it right after I read it. I was sitting in an empty exam room on my lunch break at the optometry office I was an office manager at. I’d finished the book the day before and was BURSTING with ideas! I wrote up my blog post on my laptop and popped it on my shiny new Blogger site. I was READY, friends! I realize it’s called Fast Track Photographer, but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, that’s definitely NOT how my story worked out for me. Life got crazy for us shortly after I read this book, but what I love about it is how it encourages you to find the TYPE of business that will be most fulfilling to you. When I worked briefly as an associate shooter and I didn’t love it, I remembered this book. Of course being an associate shooter didn’t work out! I love connecting personally with my couples way before the wedding day, so much so that my brides often become my friends! There’s no way I could show up to a stranger’s wedding to shoot it and still create that connection that results in beautiful, relaxed portraits! I learned that way back when I first read this book, but naturally it took me actually walking that path to really learn that lesson. This book also includes a great evaluation quiz of your strengths as they stand now, which can really help you decide how to market yourself in a saturated market. There’s also a companion book, The Fast Track Photographer’s Business Plan, that is just as useful. I reread both of these books on a pretty regular basis, just to remind myself of where I’ve always been headed.
Love Is The Killer App by Tim Sanders
If there’s one principle that has guided me in my business over the last eight years, it was that my work comes from a place of love and abundance. I’ve tried to never get in to that super competitive, fight my competitors for the job type of thing. When I realized how important connecting with my community on a deeper level is from reading The Fast Track Photographer book, I completely built my business model around it. And Love Is The Killer App is just an extension of that. Tim Sanders talks about how important it is to just be a KIND person: share your knowledge, share your network, and most importantly, share your compassion. I’ve found some of the most satisfying parts of my business by applying that concept. It resulted in creating some communities I’m super proud of, making strong friendships with people who might otherwise be considered competitors, and treating my clients with compassion throughout their entire experience. I mean, honestly, even thinking of things like posing through the lens of compassion has really changed the way I approach a session! The ideas in this book are life and world changing, and I recommend it to everyone, photographer or not.
Picture Perfect Practice by Roberto Valenzuela
Really any of Valenzuela’s books are must-reads, in my opinion. But, this one in particular is a really excellent and comprehensive book on the art of photography. He goes over design principles and gives homework challenges to you in each chapter that just warms my nerdy little Type A heart. If you do really well with structured learning, this is the book for you. I love that he explains his thought process for each image and goes in depth as he explains why he made the choices he did in each scenario. If you’re past the point of learning about how to use your camera as far as the technical settings, this is a great next step kind of book. I often see books like Understanding Exposure get recommended in photography groups, and while that is an excellent book to read cover to cover and understand, for me there came a point where I needed something much more in depth. Something that could go deep into the technicalities of why an image worked or didn’t work, and how to fix it. This is that book! If you struggle with lighting or posing, he also has whole books dedicated to those two topics that I completely recommend.
Jasmine Star’s Complete Wedding Photographer Experience on CreativeLive
Okay, what aspiring wedding photographer in the 2010’s (is that a thing?) DIDN’T creep J*’s blog to learn about photography? Her educational blog posts were instrumental in teaching me about photography circa 2011..she’s the reason I know and love natural reflectors! Her massive course on CreativeLive, The Complete Wedding Photographer Experience, is an amazing introduction to how wedding photography works for anyone considering learning how to photograph weddings! And side note, if you’re interested in learning about ANYTHING remotely creative, you need to get yourself over to CreativeLive right this second, because there is just a wealth of information over there!
Posing 101 with Lindsay Adler on CreativeLive
Lindsay Adler is another amazing photography educator, and this video in particular is such a fabulous resource for learning about posing! While I love natural posing and lifestyle photography, it can be really helpful to study more traditional posing that considers basic principals of design and the anatomy of how people move. It’s kind of hard to explain, but once you learn how people move and how the ways they move effect a portrait, you’ll be so much more ready to guide them into those poses in a natural way! Lindsay also has some great resources on lighting out there, but this video in particular was useful to me as I learned the basics of posing.
Glamour Photography with Sue Bryce on CreativeLive
I don’t do glamour portraiture at all, but I remember sitting in my office around 2012 watching Sue Bryce and her beautiful accent teach me about posing and directing. I’m realizing I have two videos on posing here, but what I love about Sue’s posing education is that she teaches you so much more than how to put people into flattering poses. My big takeaway from her videos are about how to talk to people so that they feel confident and beautiful! There’s so much that goes in to encouraging people in front of the camera, and Sue Bryce is amazing at this!
EVERYTHING ELSE //
Katelyn James Education
Katelyn James completely deserves her own category on her own because of what an influence she’s been on my work, but also because she has an education component on her website that includes both books and video! I’ve followed her since 2013-ish, and in that time she’s added not just downloadable mini-guides to her shop (super useful if you’re struggling with ring or dress photos), but also full video courses on lighting, posing, and editing. I basically recommend everything she does because the way she teaches just makes sense to me! If you don’t get anything else, though, I think her Lighting and Locations course is worth every single penny and useful for beginners all the way to seasoned pros! Total game changer!
So there you have it! That’s my comprehensive list of must-have education for people who want to learn how to be a wedding photographer! I kept this list to the super inspiring must haves…the things that left me feeling inspired and ambitious and FOCUSED. There are so many resources out there but in my opinion, this is the place to start. Happy reading!
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This list is amazing! I hadn’t read the first two books, but plan to now. I have RV’s books and love Jasmine Star! Thanks for the recommendations.
This is so cool! Thanks so much for sharing!!
I love this post! It’s bookmarked 😉
Thanks for all of the recommendations!
good reference. When I find time to read I will check back…lol
I’m not much of a reader, but these sound intriguing!!
This is such an awesome post Samantha!! I have to agree with you on Katelyn James needing her own section. 🙂 I have the Roberto Valenzuela book and it’s awesome too. I must definitely read the others on your list because they sound fantastic. Thank you for such a fabulous post. (and P.S. I love your your picture!! It’s beautiful!)
I’m definitely going to need to check these books out!