For anyone new, photography can seem like a daunting hobby to get into. There are so many things to learn. So many different scenarios to master and so many challenges along the way. But you needn’t worry because there has never been a better time for learning photography as it is today. There is so much free information online that there are many full-time photographers that learnt on their own just using this free information. So if you are new to photography, here are 10 basic tips for beginners to help you get started.
Learn the basics
I often tell newbie photographers that one of the first and best things you can do is to just read your camera manual. Yes, incredibly those big booklets that come with your camera have a whole wealth of information in there not just about your camera, but also about photography. So, start by simply reading your manual all the way through a couple of times.
Then go online and spend time actually learning the basics of photography. Things like shutter speed, aperture, ISO are together known as the exposure triangle and should become second nature to you. Learn the basics of composition like the rule of thirds and how to frame your shots. Basically, the more you learn the better and quicker your progress will become.
Look after your gear
Even though camera equipment has become more accessible than it was many years ago, it does still come at a cost. By the time you have a collection of equipment that you need it will add up to a hefty sum. Looking after your equipment should be of the utmost importance. So, make sure you learn how to look after your camera gear.
For example, fitting a UV filter to your expensive lens means protecting the lens glass from scratches. It’s much cheaper to replace a UV filter than repairing a scratched lens. Or for example, know that you should avoid touching your sensor. There is plenty of advice on camera care online so spend time learning it. It can save you money in the long term.
Put together a shot list
Whether you are a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, it always helps if you have a shot list. Professional photographers use shot lists to ensure that they cover off all the different photos that they need to capture on a shoot. But as a beginner, a shot list can be equally useful in helping you write a list of what you want to photograph.
It could be a place, a specific scenario like a blue hour shot of a famous landmark or even a specific image that you have in your mind. The good thing about a shot list is that it gives you goals and targets to achieve by ticking them off. But also helps you capture a diverse set of photos rather than the same thing over and over again. So, if you haven’t written out a shot list yet then go ahead and do so.
Carry your camera with you
It might be cumbersome and a pain to carry your camera with you all the time, but when you are starting out it really does help. One of the big challenges for newbie photographers is finding time to practice. Juggling a job, family and other commitments mean you might not have a lot of time to actually take photos. By having your camera with you all the time it gives you more opportunities to practice taking photos.
If you find it really cumbersome to carry your camera with you then simply use your camera phone.
Get off auto mode
The automatic modes on cameras have improved dramatically in recent years. But the problem with using automatic mode is that you are not actually learning about photography and how to take photos. The other issue with auto modes is that sometimes you need to compensate to be able to capture the shot you want. In auto mode, the camera will make that decision which might have an adverse effect on your photo.
For example, if you are shooting in low light conditions the camera might bump up your ISO to 6400! This means a lot of noise in your photo which will make it look soft. Whereas if you were controlling the exposure triangle yourself, you may have been able to underexpose your image by a stop or two to then brighten post-processing. This might have given you a better image. So, instead of settling for auto mode, learn the basics and do it yourself.
One of the great things about starting out is that you are allowed to make mistakes. You are also allowed to experiment with different genres and even different settings to find your own style and preference. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with your photos and if you get something wrong, learn from it and move on.
Find people to inspire you
Photography is a lonely profession and you will quickly find that there aren’t too many people who want to wait around for you to take photos at sunset. Finding a photo buddy, especially one whose work you admire can really help push you to become a better photographer.
But even if you don’t have anyone to act as a photo buddy, find photographers whose work you like and follow them. The key is not to copy their work but instead use it to inspire your own.
Share your photos
You don’t have to be a professional photographer to find an outlet for your photos. Anyone can do it and you should because it can help you become better. I said earlier that photography is a lonely profession and for many, their only interaction on photography comes online through social media. Don’t be afraid to find a way to share your photos with others whether that is online or in person. It could be your own website, Instagram, Facebook or even a local camera club.
Learn basic photo editing
Even if you are completely against photo editing, it still pays to know the basics. As inevitably most photos will benefit from some level of post-processing. That could be as simple as just straightening the photo or cropping it slightly differently. Or sometimes you may need to add more extensive retouching like removing the trash can that is in the shot.
Whatever you decide is the right approach for you, as with everything else, there are lots of free learning material online. YouTube videos can walk you through the entire process from the basics to more advanced functions. So, don’t be lazy, learn the basics of post-processing.
Get a workflow
One of the biggest benefits of digital photography is that it allows you to build a workflow that can get the work you need to get done in a fraction of the time. Your workflow will naturally evolve over time but it’s still worth thinking about it and putting a process in place. Think about how you want to store your photos like a filing structure? How do you want to back them up? How to flag the good ones and if you want to delete the bad ones? Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers straight away, that will come over time. But it’s good to think about it and have a process in place.
As a beginner, you are starting a wonderful journey. One that will at times be frustrating whilst at other times gives you an enormous sense of pride. The most important thing when you are starting out is to enjoy yourself, learn as much as you can and practice, practice and practice. Don’t worry it won’t always be this daunting.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage anywhere online without permission. Dreamstime.