So you’re interested in the amazing ability of capturing moments in time and documenting corners of the world? Interested in how the pros do it? Need a new Facebook profile picture? Just want some cool snaps for your Instagram feed? Look no further! We’ve got some tips for beginners to help you start taking the coolest photographs.
- Take photos of everything!
The key to mastering the art of photography is to photograph EVERYTHING you can. Take your camera everywhere you go and snap away! Going out with friends? Take pictures of what you’re doing and create photo diaries. On a road trip? Snap photos of the scenery! Sure, almost everyone has seen someone on their Facebook news feed upload an album called ‘Photography’ with 200 different photos of the flowers in their back yard – but so has everyone! In fact, flowers are a great starting point to photograph if you want to learn about focus and depth of field. Practice makes perfect and it’s the same for photography. Even if you’re out and about with nothing but a smartphone and see something that looks interesting, take a photograph of it. Cell phone photography is a great way to get into the habit of regularly taking pictures. They might not be as high quality as digital photographs but you learn can a lot about cropping, light and aesthetically-pleasing shots through the lens of a phone camera. You’ll often find that friends and family are in need of a new profile photo for social media, and since you can only take so many selfies before you start to go insane you’ll be surprised at how many people will be thankful for your snap-happy habits.
2. Get to know your camera
The most important thing as a photographer is to understand how your tool of the trade works. Starting off on Automatic mode is absolutely fine, as this allows you to learn the basics of using a camera without having to worry about all the technical stuff – the camera does this for you. However, if you’re wanting to get a better understanding and improve your photos, learning to set up your camera for different photographic environments on Manual Mode is key. Have a look at tutorials online. There are hundreds out there on the web, all you need to do is to type in ‘[Camera & Model Number] Manual Mode Tutorial’ or similar, and tada! Another tip is to take a photo on Automatic Mode and learn from there. Note down the f/stop and aperture levels displayed on the screen on your camera, and mimic these in manual mode. From there, see what happens as you increase and decrease these settings – that way you’re learning at your own pace from settings that you’re already familiar with. If you’ve got photography buddies, ask them for tips! Even if you have different brands or models of cameras, aperture, focus and lighting settings are almost always the same throughout DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras. I learnt through a combination of high school classes, self-teaching, photo-savvy family members and professional photographers, and all of them helped a great deal.
3. Find inspiration online
Photography is found across the world wide web, particularly on social media and image-heavy websites. My passion for photography sparked on websites such as WeHeartIt, Tumblr and the online photography community Flickr. From there I learnt valuable tools and tips, began to follow fellow photographer’s lives and photo documentation, and gained gallons of inspiration and drive to photograph everything in my life. It’s easy to get lost whilst admiring other’s portfolios so an important thing to remember is to never compare yourself to other’s work, only compare yourself to your past work and focus on how much you have improved and will in the future. You’ll be surprised at how far you’ll go and how quickly you improve if you stick to your guns.
4. Set yourself a photography challenge
If you’re familiar with the world of Flickr you will no doubt have heard of challenges such as 365 or 52 weeks, where photographers challenge themselves to take a new photo every week (or the crazy ones that somehow manage to take a new photo every single day for 365 days of the year!) Having done a 52 weeks challenge a few years back I could go on for days preaching about the benefits of challenging yourself to stay on top of your photography and how much I learnt during my challenge. However your challenges don’t have to be as clear-cut as the popular ones. Try taking photos of a different subject matter each month, such as a portrait one month, animals the next, landscapes the month after – or have a crack at tackling different settings and modes on your camera or learning new styles of photography (my personal favourite was light painting – Google it!). And if you miss a photograph or two – don’t sweat it! It’s okay not to push yourself or try to force out creativity.