Getting started as a new photographer can be a tricky business. Although nowadays smartphones and Instagram mean that almost everyone has dipped their toe into amateur photography, taking it seriously as a hobby, or starting out as a professional is a little harder.
Taking great photos is more complicated than just pointing and clicking, and while there’s never been more information available for photographers than there is now, so much of it is either too complicated, confusing or just plain unhelpful. So, we decided to put together a few hints and tips for anyone just starting out, to help you get the most out of your new favorite bit of kit, and to give your shots that extra bit of spark that sets true photographers apart. Read on to learn about our six small but mighty tips for new photographers.
Learn to love your camera
There’s a temptation when you are just starting out to throw money at the problem and upgrade your camera for the sake of it…but we say hold off!
Sure, a big, brand new DSLR can help, but things like composition, framing, and subjects can only come from you. As long as you’ve got a decent bit of kit, work with what you’ve got. It will give you a chance to get to grips with some of the fundamentals of photography first, before taking the plunge into a world of complicated settings and expensive gear. You’ll develop your skills more fully and will be ready for a new challenge when you’ve outgrown your first camera.
It might sound simple but learning how to hold your camera properly is one of the best things you can do right at the beginning.
Keeping the camera steady is the key to creating clear, focused shots, as any movement will create a blur of light across the aperture. Bring your arms up, and tuck your elbows in, keeping everything close to your body to use your core to create stability. If you are shooting in low light, it is well worth investing in a high quality fixed focal lenses for wobble-free shots.
Three is the magic number
The rule of three is one of the best things to keep in mind (and perhaps sometimes to throw out the window!) for all photographers, from total newbies to grizzled veterans. It is a great way when starting out to learn about good composition, and to help take great photos right from the get-go.
The rule of three divides an image into three horizontal and vertical sections, and positions key features at the intersection points. Once you’ve mastered the rule, you’ll also want to learn how to break it effectively, to mix up your shots and create a little bit of chaos…
A sense of perspective
Taking shots from a new perspective is a key technique in going from a dabbler to a true photographer.
Straight-on, eye-level shots are easy…but boring. We all see the world from that angle all the time! Try getting closer to the ground, adjusting the angle of your shot, or taking the photo from farther away. You’ll be amazed at what an impact a simple adjustment can make!
Lean on your camera
Don’t be afraid to really get to know the functions of your camera, and to lean on some of the semi-auto functions it can offer.
There are loads of things to be thinking about when you are getting started as a photographer, so for example letting your camera take care of shutter speed while you concentrate on focusing is totally legit. There’s no shame in taking advantage of technology to give you a helping hand!
Take more photos
This really is the easiest, but the most important piece of advice we can give to a photographer just starting out. Your camera should almost become a part of you, going with you wherever you go.
Take photos of everything, then take some more. You’ll learn how to use your camera, what shots and compositions work best (and which ones don’t!), and most importantly you’ll become far more comfortable behind the lens. Making mistakes and taking bad photos can be as valuable in the learning process as capturing a perfect image, so don’t be afraid to get the camera out, and don’t be discouraged by a few imperfect shots!
The road to becoming a great photographer is exciting but starting out can be daunting. Hopefully these pointers will give you something to work with. If you are keen to learn more, why not check out this great piece on starting out as a wedding photographer.
Now, what are you waiting for? Grab your camera, get out there and start shooting!