You’ve got your camera. You want to take good photographs. You want to learn about what your camera can do. You want to be good at getting a great shot. You have absolutely no idea where to start.
Who nodded along? I know I did. And they are statements that we hear a lot.
I have always said that I’m nothing more than an enthusiastic amateur, but I do like to think that I am getting better all the time. I am learning about my camera. I’m getting good photographs that I love more and more. But the great thing is that there is always something new to learn.
Here are some tips for absolute beginners, to get you started on the road to taking photos which make you proud.
Use what you’ve got
It can be really easy to get suckered into spending a lot of money thinking that it will take better pictures. It won’t. YOU are the thing driving that camera and it’s you that matters. Yes, a fancy camera will give you more control over certain elements of your photo. But I’d you are starting out using any camera will be good enough. The resolution may not be so good but it’s the art of actually taking the photograph that matters. If you never use your camera phone or your little point and shoot camera to take pictures, then what makes you think that buying a fancy camera will make you suddenly start snapping?
I have always taken lots of photos. And I used to get along very well with a little Sony Cybershot camera for a long time. In many ways it was a ton more practical than the big camera I lug around now. But by the time I got a DSLR I was already in the habit of using a camera a lot. It was when I found my point and shoot was restricting the sorts of photos I wanted to take that I bought a DSLR. I was also in a better position to buy a DSLR because I knew better what it was that I wanted.
What I’m saying is don’t spend money if you don’t need to, because an expensive camera won’t get you better pictures if you don’t know how to use it. The same goes for accessories and additional kit; don’t buy them when you’re starting out. You’ll have a much better idea of the kit that you might want once you and your camera are old friends.
Experiment and enjoy the learning process
There is a mountain of available information online to help you learn about your camera and it’s settings and it can be really overwhelming. But nothing will help you learn like actually playing around with your own camera.
If you do own a DSLR check out our post on the modes and settings on your camera. Read it, take away one or two things and then go and play. You won’t learn everything about your camera in one day, so just think about a photography opportunity you have coming up and try out one new thing with your camera. You’ll soon build up a knowledge and repertoire of things you can do.
If you are using a point and shoot then check out the pre-programmed settings and try taking the same photo with each setting. You’ll get a really good idea of each programmed setting will do simply by going through this process.
Just play and don’t be afraid to have a go. Obviously if you really want to capture a specific image that is time sensitive then that’s not the time to muck around with your camera. But when I first started out using manual on my camera, I would take a few in auto first to guarantee I had the picture I wanted, and then I’d start fiddling with settings.
Photograph random things
Just because you can! Digital photography means that it is far easier and cheaper to just have a go because you don’t have to print (or even show anyone) your little experiments. So don’t overlook everyday objects as photo opportunities, even if it’s just an excuse to experiment.
Write a photo wish list
I have one and I’m adding to it all the time. It’s basically a list of photos you would like to take. I had ‘photo in long grass’ and ‘photo with bluebells’ on my list until recently, but I recently got to tick them off the list. I want to take more pictures with bubbles and water. I want to take some pictures in silhouette.
The best place to look for inspiration is Pinterest, or you might find inspiration on blogs or in magazines. But I find it really helps me to have some plans and ideas for photos that I’d like to take. It gives you something to aim for on a boring, empty weekend too.
It goes without saying that your photography won’t get any better while you sit and watch TV. So get your camera out, whatever camera that may be and take some pictures. Try to challenge yourself to take one every day or every week.
Setting yourself little challenges keeps you learning and practising the skills that you are learning. And blogging is a great excuse to get better. There are so many photo linkys out there which give you simple inspiration or ideas for taking more photographs.
So pick up your camera and you might just learn a thing or two.