Photography Tips For Beginners

So you want to be a photographer? You've got your first proper camera, and would like to start creating photographic masterpieces? These photography tips for beginners will help you on your way.  Let's begin.

The right tools for beginner photography

1. Know your camera.

Every workman must learn his / her tools. As soon as your camera stops getting in the way of your photography, you can begin to learn to shoot great photos. So tip number one is to learn your cameras basic controls. At the very least, learn how to: 

Set your Aperture - that's the opening of the lens.
Set your Shutter Speed - how long the camera takes the photo for.
Adjust the camera's ISO - How sensitive the camera is to light.

These controls are used for setting exposure - learn more about Exposure.

2. Get a sturdy tripod.

Until your technique develops, you'll need a little help with keeping the camera steady enough for photographs in less than perfect light. Don't get tempted to pop that tiny flash every time the sun goes behind a cloud. Use a steady tripod to keep the camera steady when it needs just a little longer to gather that light. 

Later on, you'll need that tripod again for experimental shots too. 

3. Protect your camera and lens with a bag and UV filter.

You'll want to keep your new camera in great condition, and while you're learning it can be difficult to avoid little expensive mishaps. Invest in a good padded camera bag and a clear UV filter to protect your camera and lens from knocks and dirt. 

4. Buy a spare battery and keep them charged.

You're not going to learn very much with a dead battery, so to keep the fun and learning going, buy a spare battery and keep them both charged. This will keep you in the action for longer, which brings me smoothly to the next section.


Practice makes perfect

It is said that 10,000 hours of practice can make one the master of any skill. Photography is no exception. The more you practice, the better you will get. So on to tip number 5. 

5. Keep your camera with you. 

A part of photography is about being in the right place at the right time, with a camera. And Chase Jarvis famously said "The best camera is the one you have with you" (or left at home). Don't be that guy who always says "I wish I had my camera on me" [sorry to all the people I said that to - Simon] bring your camera with you to everything, then you'll have it whenever you need. And charge that battery. 

6. Study photographs that inspire you.

It can be difficult to learn in isolation. Find photographers and photographs that inspire you and study their work. Try to figure out what makes the photos appeal to you, and have a go at applying those concepts to your own work. I discourage copying people's work, but most of the rules of composition and appeal are universal and transferable, so find your own way of using them. 

7. Try photographing everything.

Most professionals specialise in a particular field, or set of fields in photography. For example I mostly shoot animals and nature. This allows the pro to hone the specific set of skills needed to perfection. However, to start, you'll need to try everything to find what your best fit is and learn a wide range of techniques. 


Take feedback and review

An important part of the the beginners photography learning process is to review your work, acknowledge the successes, and seek to improve. Without this process of reflection our work would stagnate and we lose our objectivity. This will continue for as long as you are serious about photography.

8. Self critique but not too much.

The best photo is the one you're going to take tomorrow. Always view your work as a continuous process of improvement. Don't be afraid to discover your own failings as these will set you on the path to improvement. Try not to overdo the self critique however, since early work is often not as bad as you expect. As your post processing skills improve you'll begin to identify old works that just needed minor adjustment to become great. 

9. Revisit old photos from time to time.

As your photo editing skills improve you'll learn techniques and skills which can make better work of old photos. You'll also find opportunities that you'll be able to shoot better as your camera skills improve also. Use these to plan re-shoots.

10. Seek impartial critique from experienced photographers.

An important part in beginner photography is to accept advice and praise from other more skilled photographers. Their trained eye will identify ways to improve that you might not have noticed yourself or even knew existed. They'll be able to point you in the right direction, and give you praise where you did well. You'll find that this type of support never stops being useful.

11. Don't feed the trolls. 

Of course, your photography will not be to everyone's taste, and you'll almost certainly receive negative feedback from haters. Take your advice from trusted professionals and peers, their advice will be constructive and supportive. Ignore the trolls and don't feed them with arguments. 

Your turn.

Do you have any photography tips for beginners to share, or examples of how far you've come since starting out? Please share them in the comments below and I'll update this guide. 

Simon Osbaldeston