There are sooooo many photography books that aim to educate and inspire the aspiring, intermediate and advanced photographer. Some aim to educate on taking particular types of photographs and I do think they can be of value on the nuances and various differences involved in subject specific photography. Photographing children, for example, requires some child know how and quick noticing and acting while photographing objects and products requires a specific understanding of light and product placement. Many of these books are wonderful but really, there are just a few basic principals that need to be studied and understood and the rest is about learning to see, and to feel and to practice all of it out in the field. Generally, after know how, is acquired, books can be valuable inspiration and studying photographs by the best can help you to see possible photographs around you better. Ultimately though, many books can give you knowledge on technique and practice as well as inspiration but practicing the art of photography sometimes for years will be your best educational resource. Below are some of my favorite and useful books.
The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum is a readable, attractive and informative guide for the novice who's interested in taking product photography, which I do for my garments and for images on my website. Though photography in my opinion requires understanding of some basic principals such as light, composition as well as shutter speed and aperture understand (such that you can use it to get your desired result and don't fumble on it too much) there's not a lot to get from the various basic books other than inspiration. And I get a lot of inspiration from the images in this book. So it's recommended for the aspiring product photographer or the individual in need of some inspiration and ideas.
Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson is organized in a wonderfully inspiring and readable way. Topics are limited to a sentence or two beside a full example photograph. The book attempts to educate by example photograph and a written simple inspirational and explanatory interpretation. Other photography books do a similar thing. I think it is a very effective and valuable way to educate aspiring photographers. This is recommended for photographers of all types but especially those early - ish in the learning process.
Picture Perfect Practice by Roberto Valenzuela is a wealth of insight into seeing more clearly by one of the country's leading wedding photographers. After one gets down the basic principals of how to compose and get a technically good shot, the budding photographer can begin to learn how to see the world around her more clearly. There are great photographs at every moment in our lives but they won't be captured on film without ability to recognize them. Of course great photographers become so by taking countless photographs and learning in the field and no amount of knowledge and learning explained in a book can substitute for that but it can shorten your own learning experience and show you where to look and what to look for. Recommended for the evolving photographer.
Your camera manual might be your best beginning resource. Knowing what setting and features your camera along with how to set and manipulate them to your advantage can go a long way in helping you to produce the best photographs possible at each stage in your photography learning process. Better than the manual would be if you could find some video education on your camera. When I got my new camera very recently I decided it wasn't worth the expense if I wasn't going to take advantage of all it had to offer. I knew the written manual was going to be a bit dense and perhaps tedious so I decided I'd search for an online tutorial. Boy did I find a great one! Lynda.com had a five hour one. And although I learned about my camera during my trial period, I decided to continue on a month to month basis for more photography tutorials as well as their educational Adobe Illustrator videos. I have since suspended my account having saturated myself with their tutorials for the time being. Anyhow, learn as much as you can about your particular camera. It's the best recommendation I can make to anyone interested in photography.
The Visual Toolbox by David Duchemin is a nicely organized toolbox with explanation and exercises, of the elements of great photography. I like the organizational aspect of this book. It refrains from long paragraphs of lengthy instruction and instead briefly covers the basics of those important elements to taking great photographs. Recommended for the aspiring photographer.