It’s never been easier to embark on a career or hobby in photography. With the development of all sorts of cameras which cater for all levels and budgets, the only decision facing prospective photographers these days is when to start. However, too many new photographers fall into the trap of not going through the proper and well thought out process and being disappointed with the results. Here are 10 tips to help you get started and avoid the pitfalls of new photographers.
1. Find your passion
Everyone has a passion – something they love or enjoy doing or observing. For some that might be wildlife or sport, for others it’s walking and camping in the wild, and for some it might just be to walk around a busy city to absorb the atmosphere. Needless to say that if it is something you enjoy doing or watching, you’ll be more likely to enjoy photographing it. This is especially important when you are starting out because it will give you focus. So, whatever your passion is, that should be your first focus when starting photography.
2. Get the equipment
Whatever you are going to photograph, you will need at least a camera of some sort, and this could be a basic point and shoot camera or even a smart phone. The mistake a lot people who are starting out in photography make is that they think a better or more expensive camera will mean better photos. The camera is simply a tool and without an interesting subject, correct composition and good lighting the photo would still fail regardless of how good the camera is, so instead of spending a lot of money on an expensive camera, buy something within your budget and once you are ready, invest in a more expensive one.
3. Learn the basics
There’s a lot that goes into a capturing a great photo, but there is no getting around the fact that you will need to learn the basics of photography. You will need to understand the technical elements such as depth of field and focusing, as well the specific controls in cameras that can influence these factors. You will need to learn about creative elements of photography such as lighting and composition and how and when to put it all together for a pleasing result. Many successful photographers are self-taught with no formal qualifications in photography, but they have all spent time learning and practicing the basics.
4. Practice, practice, practice
There’s no shortcut to becoming a good photographer. Like any skill or profession it takes practice over a period of time. This is even more imperative when you are starting out as the best way to really understand what you are learning is to go out and do it for real. Every time you read something new, go out and practice it until it becomes second nature to you.
6. Get inspired
Surround yourself with other photographer’s work that you admire. Study their work and style and try to work out what makes those photos great. Read trade magazines and articles that will inspire you and push you further. Go to galleries, talks and watch videos – anything that will make you feel like you want to go out and take photos is a great way of inspiring yourself.
7. Find your style
There will come a time when you will need to start developing your own style. This is what makes you unique and why photography is such a great and exciting profession. You could look at different photographers work from the same location and they will look completely different. A great experiment for when you are starting out is to start cutting out and keeping any photo that you really like that you see in magazines and newspapers. After a while, spread all of your cut outs and see if there is a resemblance in the style. If there is, this is what your eye sees as a pleasing result and is beginning of your own unique style.
8. Learn from your mistakes
“…It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes…” Joseph Conrad
Making mistakes as a photographer is OK – especially when you are starting out. Back in the days of film, every mistaken photo cost the photography money, but with digital photography this isn’t the case. In fact, often you will learn more from your photography mistakes than you would from any book. The important thing is not to get disheartened and constantly evaluate your work and see why and where you have gone wrong and what the solution is.
9. Set yourself goals
As a photographer you have to constantly look to improve. One of the best ways to do this is to set yourself goals, for example, if you are someone who is shy and struggles to approach people to take their photos, make it a goal that every time you go out for photography, you will photograph at least one person. Once you’ve plucked up the courage to do that once, set yourself a new goal to do it twice and so on. As you move along in your journey as a photographer, your goals will constantly change and evolve.
10. Take risks
Who wants to see another usual photo of that famous landmark? In this age of smart phones and digital photography, it is more important than ever to take original and unique photos, so be prepared to take risks (within the law and with your personal safety in mind) with your photos and try to look beyond the obvious. The key is to research what you are photographing so that you can see what already exists and how you can make it different.
Photography is one of the best professions or hobbies around. Not only will it challenge you creatively and physically, but as you move along your journey is will lead to amazing encounters and opportunities. It will also allow you to see the world in a different light and often experience so much more as you have to analyze every scene. The great thing is that it is now easier than ever to start.
Now it’s your turn. Share your tips and photos below.