28 Tips for New Photographers

tips for new photographers

Photography is an incredibly enjoyable hobby that can be super fun and rewarding. But, it’s also a difficult art to master, and it will likely take years to create the type of images that will truly satisfy your creative vision. When you’re first starting out, you’ll need to learn technical skills and to develop your photographer’s eye, while also training yourself to find photographic opportunities in everything around you, which can seem like a daunting task.

However much it might seem like there’s an impossible amount to learn when you first pick up a camera, by following our 28 tips for new photographers, you’ll have a handy checklist of skills and habits to learn that are certain to improve your imagery.

28. Never leave the house without your camera

And we really do mean never. Your camera should be at your side whenever you leave the house, as you never know when a great photo opportunity is going to present itself. Having your camera with you will encourage you to take in your surroundings with a photographer’s eye, which will make it more likely for you to notice great photo ops.

Read our article on: Best 4K Camera

27. Don’t buy the most expensive gear right away

When you’re just starting out in the world of photography, you’re not really going to know what you’re doing. So, what’s the use in spending a fortune on a top of the range camera? You can always upgrade later down the line when you’ve mastered a camera with more automatic features that can give you a helping hand.

26. Spend lots of time experimenting with camera settings

It might not particularly fun, but read your camera’s user manual. There might be more ways of using the on board features than you realised, so it’s worth taking the time to read manuals and user reviews. It’s also good practice to take several shot at different settings when you’re learning, so you can see which combination works best for what shots.

Read our guide on: How to shoot in low light.

25. Use auto features whenever possible

And we really do mean never. Your camera should be at your side whenever you leave the house, as you never know when a great photo opportunity is going to present itself. Having your camera with you will encourage you to take in your surroundings with a photographer’s eye, which will make it more likely for you to notice great photo ops.

24. A camera bag is a good investment

When you’re just starting out in the world of photography, you’re not really going to know what you’re doing. So, what’s the use in spending a fortune on a top of the range camera? You can always upgrade later down the line when you’ve mastered a camera with more automatic features that can give you a helping hand.

23. Don’t get frustrated by learning

When you’re just starting out in the world of photography, you’re not really going to know what you’re doing. So, what’s the use in spending a fortune on a top of the range camera? You can always upgrade later down the line when you’ve mastered a camera with more automatic features that can give you a helping hand.

22. Scour the internet for tutorials

There’s nothing wrong with using automatic settings: that’s exactly why they’re there! When you’re starting out, it’s better to focus on framing, composition and exposure, as they’re the skills you’ll always rely on no matter which camera you’re shooting on. We’d recommend switching to aperture priority mode so you can still manipulate aperture and ISO, but in this mode your camera will work out the correct shutter speed so you don’t have to.

21. A camera bag is a good investment

A camera bag will keep your kit organized, which you’ll need more and more as your gear increases. You’ll also need it to keep your equipment safe from bumps and bashes when you’re out and about with your camera. A decent bag will also be waterproof which is a necessity if you like to shoot outside. Choose something that can grow with you as you acquire more kit.

20. Don’t get frustrated by learning

Mastering the art of photography is tricky, and you’re not going to become a professional overnight. Instead of getting frustrated, just enjoy the learning process and try not to rush things. Taking your time to learn the basics and to practice will ultimately make you a better photographer.

19. Scour the internet for tutorials

There are so many fantastic tutorials and courses available online, and much of it you won’t even have to pay for. YouTube and Vimeo are both excellent sources for free tutorials from professional photographers, and mandy.com offers learning materials on pretty much every possible photography topic.

18. You need a great tripod

Unlike our advice on your first camera, we recommend that you buy the best tripod you can afford. A sturdy tripod will allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds, which you’ll need to do if you want to get great night time shots and that beautiful smooth effect when shooting moving subjects like waterfalls. If you buy a decent tripod to begin with, chances are that you won’t have to replace it for a very long time.

17. Learn the basic rules of composition

As you’ll see later in this article, it’s ok to break the rules sometimes, but first you really do need to know them. By taking time to study things like how professionals balance elements in a frame and how to use leading lines to draw your viewer in, you’ll have all the basic tools you need to set up the perfect shot.

16. Learn about the exposure triangle

With regards to the technical things you need to learn as a newb, the exposure triangle is up there with the most important things. This covers aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and you can find lots of great tutorials online that will help you master these important factors.

15. Shot lists are key

A shot list is as important as your camera when you’re heading out for a day of shooting. Without a plan, it’s so easy to get side tracked and forget about the images that you really wanted to capture. It’s also a nice idea to have a shot ‘wish list’ that you’d like to capture as your skills improve. Keep this list in your photography notebook or on your phone, and enjoy a huge sense of satisfaction as you tick each one off.

14. Make a habit of taking photos

Learn to see a photographic opportunity in everything around you, and aim to take at least one photo every single day to keep you in a photographer’s mind set. If you can’t have your camera with you, use your camera phone: shooting every day is about continuing to learn and practicing the skills you’ve picked up.

13. Keep a notebook with you

If you really can’t take your camera, take a notebook to jot down any shots you’d like to get so you can come back later. It might also be that you see a great photographic opportunity but the weather is bad, or it’s too busy to get a clean shot. Make a note or do a quick sketch, so you can return and get that shot another day.

12. Check out photographers that inspire you

Everyone knows that imitation is the best form of flattery, so take all the inspiration you need from the photographers you love most. Sites like Instagram, Flickr and 500px are goldmines when it comes to photo inspo, so if you’re off to a new location or would like to try a new style of photography, search for images that’s you’d like to recreate beforehand. This is one of the best ways to develop your creative eye.

11. Take risks and experiment

If you’re shooting on a digital camera, it costs nothing to take photographs so why not take as many as possible? Take chances on an unconventional angle, or get a friend to be your model for the day and see what works. Shooting manual obviously has more cost implications, but you should still try to go wild once in a while.

10. Learn the rule of thirds…

…and when to break it. The rule of thirds will be one of the first things you learn when you’re getting into photography, and it’s an important one, but there are times when you’ll be served better by forgetting this lesson. This rule is all about balancing the proportion of the most interesting elements of an image, so if you think two elements have equal importance, throw out the rule book and compose your shot to communicate that.

9. Try different perspectives and angles

A subject might look a little uninspiring from your eye level, but have you considered getting low? Might your subject look better if you get above it? Also, you’re not limited to portrait and landscape: go ‘Dutch’ and shoot on an angle to make your images stand out better. Get in the habit of thinking outside the box when you’re shooting, and your images are certain to be more dynamic.

8. Learn the power of post

Post production is in no way cheating, and it’s essential to learn a program like Photoshop if you want your images to shine. The fact of the matter is, cameras aren’t perfect machines, and subtle editing can really take your photography to the next level; just be careful to keep it subtle so it’s not obvious that your images aren’t au natural.

7. Don’t write off ‘mundane’ scenes

Sure, you might see a particular office block every day on your way to work, but have you really looked at it? Look at your surroundings with fresh eyes, and think with a photographer’s brain; you’ll be surprised how much potential there is in the people and the places that you see every day.

6. Buy a reflector…

…and learn how to use it!! Lighting is always one of the main struggles for a new photographer, and a reflector, like the Neewer 32, is an invaluable tool for mastering this. Of all the gear you buy, reflectors will be some of the least expensive, so buy a pack of a few different colors and start experimenting. Once you’ve got the hang of them, you’ll be amazed how much a simple piece of kit will change your photography.

5. Don’t get complacent, keep learning

Even the greatest photographers in the world are aware that they don’t know everything, and that’s exactly why they’re the best. Once you’ve committed to learning, commit to learning for life, and with that attitude you’ll go so much further with your photography.

4. Use your histogram

Most amateur photographers neglect their histogram, but if you want to develop your skills then using it is not optional. By just spending ten minutes learning how to use a histogram, you’ll see how beneficial it can be to your images. You’ll need it to perform tasks such as checking that there’s enough light in your images or that they’re not over exposed while you’re still out taking photos, which will save you a lot of disappointment of getting home and realising that your images aren’t usable.

3. Realize that it’s ok to make mistakes

Seriously, it’s fine to make mistakes. It’s a great way to learn, so don’t be afraid to push yourself. Know that you’re going to mess up loads when you start out, and some of your images will be laughable when you look back at them in the future, but who cares. Photography should be a joy, don’t let self-doubt hold you back.

2. Ask for feedback

It’s scary to seek out feedback, and having your images critiqued isn’t any photographer’s favorite part of the creative process. But, it’s an amazing way to learn and to improve your skills, and the perspective of others is invaluable. If possible, try and get feedback from other photographers as well as friends and family that don’t have experience in photography. Professional and non-professional input is equally as important, as you’ll get technical tips as well as an insight into what consumers might feel about your images.

1. Take your time

Our final tip is to simply TAKE YOUR TIME, and we mean this in every sense. Take your time to learn, by reading as many articles and watching as many tutorials as you can get your hands on. Take your time when you’re out shooting to ensure you get the best shot possible. Take your time to edit your images to make them as perfect as you can. Whatever you’re doing with regards to photography, never rush: you’re images will reward you for your patience.

Conclusion

As with anything worth learning, picking up the skills and experience to become a great photographer isn’t going to happen overnight. But, the more you put into learning, the more you’ll get out of it, so take your time to master your art. And, most importantly, have fun with it!

Do you have a tip for new photographers? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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