It’s never been easier to embark on a career or hobby in photography. The development of all sorts of cameras means there is something for all levels and budgets. The only decision facing prospective photographers these days is when to start. But, too many new photographers fall into the trap of not going through a well thought out process. This leads to them being disappointed with the results. Here are 10 tips to help you get started in photography and avoid the pitfalls of new photographers.
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. For some, it might 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. For example, if your passion is the outdoors than landscape photography might be for you. This is especially important when you are starting out because it will give you focus. Whatever your passion is, that should be your first focus when starting photography.
Get the equipment
Whatever you are going to photograph, you will need at least a camera of some sort. This could be a basic point and shoot camera or even a smartphone. The mistake a lot of people who are starting out in photography make is that they think a better or more expensive camera will mean better photos. A camera is a tool only. Without an interesting subject, correct composition and good lighting the photo would still fail regardless of how good the camera is. Instead of spending a lot of money on an expensive camera, buy something within your budget. Then once you are ready, invest in a more expensive one.
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. You should know the specific controls in cameras that can influence these factors. Also, you will need to learn about the creative elements of photography. Things like 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 practising the basics.
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. The best way to 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.
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.
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 different. A great experiment when you are starting out is to start cutting out and keeping any photo that you like that you see in magazines. After a while, spread out all 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 the beginning of your own unique style.
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. Instead, try to always evaluate your work and see why and where you have gone wrong and what the solution was.
Set yourself goals
As a photographer, you have to always 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 that your goal. Tell yourself 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 change and evolve. But it’s important to set yourself new ones when you have accomplished the old ones.
Who wants to see another usual photo of that famous landmark? In this age of smartphones and digital photography, it is more important than ever to take original and unique photos. Be prepared to take risks (within the law and with your personal safety in mind) with your photos. Try to look beyond the obvious and never settle for your first photo. The key is to research what you are photographing well. That way you can see what already exists and how you can make it different.
Photography is one of the best professions or hobbies. It will challenge you creatively, physically and emotionally. But as you move along your journey it will lead to amazing encounters and opportunities. It will also allow you to see the world in a different light and experience so much more as you have to analyse every scene. The great thing is that it is now easier than ever to start. Follow these tips on how to get started in photography and you will avoid a lot of the pitfalls that newbie photographers make.
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