Introduction to Photography

basics of photography cover

Photography Basics: an introduction for young people

Submitter: I’m a school librarian at a K-6 elementary school. While weeding my 700’s this past year I found this book about photography: Photography Basics by Vick Owens-Knudsen published in 1983. Most of my kids wouldn’t know what film was if they saw it! Digital photography is all they’ve ever known. I’ll be looking for a more modern replacement.

Holly: If this was an adult or artist oriented title it might have some merit in public library collection depending on size and scope of collection.  I know film still has fans among photography buffs.  Might make a neat display, but pretty useless for a K-6 library 700’s collection!

Mary: Photography always strikes me as a odd area when talking about weeding.  It has elements of art that seems to be timeless but also the technology that ages quickly.  I have also had a variety of skill levels and interest even in small libraries, so the scope of the collection is tricky too.  Again, I know we sound like a broken record here, but this is topic that you would need not just good circ data, but also a solid knowledge of the interest/skill level of your library users.

parts of the camera

camera equipment

camera film




  1. On my Flickr page, I’ve posted some double exposures of old slides (apparently, digital cameras let you create double exposures, but mine are the real thing). I realized how things have changed when I explained to my teenage sons how double exposures occurred, and I had to begin by telling them about sprockets on film, and how one advanced the film. I love my double exposures, but I wouldn’t want to go back:

  2. If you are looking for a book on photography in the library, you probably aren’t trying to use a digital camera to take snapshots. The basics of photography haven’t changed in 150 years or so, and the information in this book is just as relevant now as it was in 1983 (film may have been replaced a digital sensor, but every other aspect of photography is still there, from shutter speeds to ƒ-stops, even ‘film’ speed is still important). Most photography courses still start with manual film cameras like the one on the cover, since you can’t cheat by using a modern camera’s auto settings. Also, based on the picture showing various types of cameras, this book isn’t just about 35mm. Medium and large format cameras have no digital equivalent, so that information is still up to date. I guess since this was apparently in a school library it is a little out of date, but in any public library it would still help some people and shouldn’t be weeded unless there is a more comprehensive book available.

    I may be a little biased, because I refuse to use digital cameras for anything besides quick snapshots (I don’t even like electronic film cameras, and usually use vintage mechanical ones), but still.

  3. ‘Animals’ and ‘Nature’ are separate categories? Was there a craze for photographing un-natural animals in the ’80s? As someone who’s taken several thousand shots of trains and planes – both film & digital – down the years, I’m puzzled as to how my fields of interest don’t appear to be even mentioned: I’m not that weird, am I?*

    *rhetorical question only

  4. As a photographer, someone who became interested in film photography at the beginning of the digital revolution, I think having a book like this at a K-6 library could prove invaluable. To learn how to take photographs in the style this book promotes, to learn about shutter speed, aperture, exposure values and composition is something rare and wonderful–just the type of thing an intelligent, creative, young child might find fascinating and compelling.

    Also, the fact that it is geared towards teaching children is another reason it shouldn’t be weeded. Of course the library should add something modern, but sometimes, the joy of libraries (and I say this as someone who spends (and has spent) every available waking moment in one or another) is finding unexpected treasures from the past, learning about things to which one might never otherwise have exposure, and enjoying what is old as though it were new again.

  5. I know digital cameras but I have a film camera that I have no idea how to use, so I might actually find this book useful.

  6. Nice resources! When one has passion for photography, Is it always good to understand it theoretically?or is it just enough to have a creative mind when taking photos depending on how unique and artistic or imaginative you are.

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