You bought your first camera and now you are not sure where to start? Here are some tips for beginner photographers.
Don’t go out buying the most expensive camera just yet
Having the latest and greatest can have a certain appeal, but just starting in photography and getting the most expensive camera and lenses makes little sense. Having premium gear will not make you a good photographer. Learning and practice on the other hand will! Nowadays the camera technology is so advanced, that even entry level camera will give you a very good quality! Even camera phone image quality (not features) is comparable to entry level DSLR’s. Click here to read my short camera purchase guide for beginners.
Know the settings of your camera
This is obviously an important one. Without knowing your camera, it will be hard for you get the photos exactly as you imagine them. Using the camera in AUTO will limit her potential a lot. I know that nobody likes reading manuals, they are boring and long, but there are numerous other options as well: photography workshops (please take a look at my “Everything you need to know” photography workshop in Brussels), photography articles online (most of them free), books etc..
Keep your camera with you all the time
I understand that this may not be always possible, but nowadays we all have smart phones. And they also have cameras. Modern smart phones are incredibly capable of making great photos. Yes, you will not have the same functionality, but look at it this way – you have a camera in your pocket. I have taken some of my favourite photos with my phone. Look at the photo above – it is taken in the Tar desert just outside of the Indian city of Jaisalmer and about 30 kilometres from the border of Pakistan. There was no way for me to get my DSLR out and photograph. I better have an iPhone photo, than no photo at all. If you interested in the story behind the photo above click here.
Have a list of photos you’d like to take and work towards a goal
This is for all people that don’t take pictures because they don’t see anything interesting. Don’t expect interesting photos to just happen next to you, it can happen, but most of the time you will have to do some work to get them. Having a list of photos that you would like to take is a great way to practice your photography skills.
Don’t overlook mundane subjects for photography
Look at the works of the greatest street photographers – they are all making photos of subjects that may seem mundane and uninteresting: people walking, kids playing, everyday “boring” street encounters etc… Don’t think that you need to go to some exotic place to get interesting photos. Yes, it might help, but amazing things are happening every day around us. Train yourself to look for them and when you are out on the street, slow down and observe the world around you. I am sure you will find something interesting to photograph.
Learn and enjoy the process of getting better
Being a photographer seems incredibly easy these days, that is before you actually take the camera in your hands and start doing it. There is a learning curve with photography as with anything else. I have been practicing photography professionally for 11 years already and I make sure I go to at least one workshop every year. There is always something to learn.
I have this friend who always asks me for advice when buying a new camera and he changes them quite often. Why you would ask? Well, because he blames every camera he owns to be insufficiently good and he is constantly unhappy with the photos he takes. It’s been a few years now and god knows how many cameras, but he still can’t accept that being good photographer is not equal to having expensive (new) camera. It just doesn’t work that way.
You have to except that there will be some time and quite a lot of practice before you get really good.
Know basic rules and how to brake them
Learning the basic rules in photography and how to apply them can help you greatly in becoming better photographer. It will also show you the incredible world of possibilities in photography. You will be able to take better and more creative images, to see images where you haven’t seen them before and more importantly you will know how to brake them 🙂
Photograph as much as you can
To quote Henri Cartier-Bresson “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Although in this digital age getting to your 10000 images can happen quite fast, this quote is still quite relevant. It just means that the more you practice the better you will get. Embrace every opportunity you have to make pictures – photograph the life around you, your friends and family, your coworkers even your pets. The more you photograph, the BETTER you WILL get! Period.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Experimenting with your camera can be better that reading the manual. I really mean that! Try different setting in different conditions. For example: instead of using high shutter speed when photographing fast moving subjects, use slower. When darker crank the ISO instead of using flash. Photograph towards the sun instead of the other way around. You might get surprised 🙂