Whether you are a weekend photographer or someone who wants to be more serious, learning photography is a great thing to do. We have all been there, and we have all taken photos that we now look at and cringe, it is a natural part of learning, but you can help yourself by taking some steps to make it easier.
Here are 7 tips for what you can do, or things not to do, when you first start out in photography.
- Which camera to pick
It is not the camera that does the work, it is you. So, someone with a phone, could, potentially take just as good an image as someone with a high end DSLR. Of course, it depends on the conditions, but the point is just having an expensive one does not make you a photographer.
Think about the type of photography you want to do and then decide what will be the right camera. Having the wrong one could mean you don’t take many images and could put you off photography. If you love taking photos, for instance, with your phone, then do it. Whichever one you get learn how to use it. Study it and experiment.
- Getting off Auto
If you buy a camera that you can use aperture, shutter speed, and pick your ISO, but you continue to put your camera on Auto, then ask yourself why did you buy a camera like that. While you might get some great photos with it, there will be missed opportunities because it doesn’t cut it. Learn how your camera works and taking it off auto, is something you will never regret doing.
Find a class or photographer who can teach you how to use your camera which will enable to use it to its full potential.
- Copying other photographers
This is a great way to learn. Find photographers whose work you like and try to emulate it. There is nothing wrong with copying, but only if you do it in the process of learning and never pass it off as your work. It is probably best not to put it up on social media as well. Use it to teach yourself, then get on with your own work.
- Study what others do
Like the comment above, you should also be looking at what other photographers are doing. See what they are photographing, and what you can learn from them. Study the compositions, how they use light and even what their subjects are.
Especially look at photographers who do work that you aspire to, who you find inspiration from. It is like that saying, if you want to get better at writing, then read the material that is like what you want to write. Photography is the same, if you want to do some photos of a particular thing or style, then look at images of them a lot.
- Do courses from respected people
Learning what you are doing can never be underestimated and is valuable. You can learn by yourself, but there are always going to be aspects you miss out on and you lose lots of time trying to figure out some stuff. It is great to have someone to ask questions, especially when you get stuck.
You don’t have to spend a fortune, but make sure that whatever course you choose will teach you everything you want to learn.
- Learn basic editing
Whether you want to do it or not, you do have to learn some editing. It is like using the darkroom. Photos straight out of the camera might be nice, but they never seem to have that polished look that photos that have been edited have. If you look at some of the great landscape photographers and see how they edit, they often don’t do a lot.
You don’t have to learn how to use everything, or even learn Photoshop, but Lightroom by Adobe is a great editing platform and easy to use. It is a great place to start and for many it will always be enough. There are some other editing platforms you could try as well, such as On 1 or Zoner Photo Studio X which is one I’ve been trying out.
Getting people to critique your work can be invaluable, but it can also be very destructive and can kill your creativity. Don’t put photos up on sites and ask everyone to give you their opinion, because they will and you might not like what they have to say. If the image is bad, you will get lots of advice, however, if the image is good, then you might get some bitchy comments.
You need to find someone you trust, who you know will give you honest feedback, but isn’t there to bring you down, or make you feel like crap. Paying someone can be good too, as they, you would hope, wouldn’t be horrible to you. I know when I critique work I try and be gentle and encouraging. I want people who pay me to come back and get more work critiqued.
If you love photography learning how to do it is not something you will ever regret doing. It will always be money well spent. It could be the start of an amazing adventure and there are so many places to share your work. It is also a very social thing and people love going out with others to take photos. Good luck.