I often get asked if I have any advice or tips on how to get better as a new photographer when you’re just starting out. This can be such a tough question to answer because just like anything worth while in life it takes time, patience, and lots of practice. However, that answer feels just a little too obvious and quite frankly, not helpful.
So, I sat down and thought about what would make some of the biggest improvements and help someone avoid some of the mistakes I made in the beginning. Believe me, being a self-taught photographer I made some mistakes that I had to learn to undo…blech!
Here is a list of the 6 things I recommend.
1.Experiment and learn the exposure triangle. Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all work together to determine your exposure. Learning this is the key to getting your camera out of automatic mode and taking control over the types of images you want to create. This book, Understanding Exposure Play: How to Shoot Great Photographs with any Camera by Bryan Petersen was a great read for me to wrap my head around these three important components. Then, play around with changing these setting to see how the
2. Practice shooting with your lens or lenses. Different lenses have different apertures, or f-stops. Practice shooting at all those different apertures (f-stops) until you can consistently nail your focus. Notice how changing your aperture (f-stop) will force you to change your shutter speed and ISO to get the same exposure. Watch how the depth of field changes with every change in aperture. For instance, with practice I know that I love to photograph my newborns at f 2.8 but do all my family portraits at f 4.0 or higher. This is a personal preference and what I have learned over time.
3. Experiment with composition. This is what makes a photo more interesting or pleasing to the eye. Play around with the rule of thirds , negative space, getting up high and shooting down, getting down low and shooting up, layer your subject in the middle with some foreground and background ( ex. placing some tree leaves that are out of focus in front of your subject).
4. Shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Ok, you knew I was going to have to say this. Just get out there and do it. I’m doing the same thing this year by challenging myself to do my first Project 365. There are many 365 day projects, but they all share the same goal. Take at least one photograph every day. This year I’ll be pushing myself by only shooting with one very specific lens that I want to master.
5. Have fun. Your camera is your tool to take images. The images you want to take. You are the one in control. Not every image will be a masterpiece. Photography is a journey. Enjoy the journey!
6. Share your images. Please don’t let all those beautiful images your are going to take sit on your hard drive. Share them with your friends, your family, the world. Heck, PRINT some of your images. I loooove printing my favorite images and displaying them around my home.
Ok, that’s it…now go out and create some beautiful pictures!
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