“In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes,” said Andy Warhol. That fame today means only one thing — pic, or it didn’t happen. Everyone is or wants to become a photographer nowadays, and every aspect of life is good or important enough to be part of your photostream.
So if you are just beginning to discover photography, or you just want to improve your skills, these photography tips for beginners, and everyone else for that matter, are gonna help a lot. So let’s begin!
Start With the Basics
We’ve come a long way from having just one guy in town who owns some kind of camera to having three or maybe more in our phone. But every camera works on the same principles. Your subject, or the light it emits, is captured through the lens and onto the digital or material canvas.
In modern cameras, a photosensor is the one capturing the scene. In analog cameras, you have a photosensitive film negative. The photo is made by exposing the “canvas” to a lit subject for a limited amount of time. This time is referred to as shutter time.
Everything else is a combination of various factors: the size of the sensor, its abilities, sensitivity to light, dynamic range, etc. On the other hand, we have the lens, its focal length, the field of view, sensitivity to light, and sharpness.
There is absolutely no guide on what you should use. The only question that matters is, “What exactly is that you want to achieve with this photo?”! But don’t let this scares you. This only means that your imagination is the only limit.
After getting a camera, of course, you should think about what focal length your lens should have. We always recommend using 50mm for beginners in photography. Once you get that settled, go out there, find your subject and start taking photos.
Know Your Subject and Its Placement
In photography, choosing the right subject and then picking the best angle and combining it with the best light conditions is the only thing that differentiates a real, professional photo from a snapshot of your broken glasses that you sent to your friend.
There are two types of photographers: the ones who are planning almost everything in their photos, and the ones that go out without a special plan and try to use the best of the moment. Now there’s no official beef between those two groups. But you can feel pressure to be a part of one. The truth is, there are good sides to both approaches. If you’re pro, you’ll be using the best of both, just like in life, right?
Whatever approach you choose, the most important thing is choosing your subject wisely. Do you remember that story about how it doesn’t matter what job you have as long as you do it with a hundred percent? It can also be applied to choosing subjects in photography.
No matter if you want to capture that perfect sunset, or you are fascinated with people’s faces, or you’re just into birds or any other animal for that matter, you need to be honest with yourself. Find the subject that excites you the most, and try to be the best.
That doesn’t mean you are not allowed to experiment or change to something new as you grow as an artist. The message here is — don’t be ashamed if you are into photographing dog eyes in maximum closeup. That can be exciting as anything else you photographed. Your subject tells the story, and you are the one directing it.
Put the Right Amount of Focus
To take a photo that resembles the most what your eyes are seeing, you need to get the focus on your subject right. That means that you need to tell the camera which light rays it should collect and converge onto the film or sensor at a single point. Or simply put, the focus is the distance of the subject from a camera, and you can use it to tell a story you want to tell.
If you are taking portraits, you can blur the background and emphasize your subject. If you are photographing nature, you can put everything in focus to emphasize greatness and open space. As we said, the decision is yours, and the fun starts when you start to experiment by combining different approaches.
The general rule is — the part of the photo that is in focus will be the first thing people notice. With that in mind, you can easily choose where your focus will be.
Light and Angle
So you have chosen your gear, got the right lens, found a spot, and you know what you are trying to accomplish. The question that remains unanswered is the perspective.
People tend to start with the obvious perspective — a line of sight. You should start your journey there. But bear in mind that the fun starts when you start to get out of your comfort zone. Wise men say that the shot is found by walking, so try out all perspectives that you can think of.
Changing the perspective and angle of your shot changes the composition and makes a good photo into a great one. A slight change of angle can make your background pop or make it completely unrecognizable. For example, ultra-wide lenses and low-angle lenses can make anything, or anyone, look colossal, while telephoto lenses can capture the beauty of someone’s eyes and nothing else.
But before you can choose your angle, you must add the light conditions to the equation. The amount of light that hits the subject and determines the mood and color of your photo can be added or reduced by adjusting the angle, shutter speed, and aperture.
Have the Right Camera for Your Skills
There is a reason we are addressing this issue at the very end and not at the beginning. The issue of which camera to buy is probably the biggest one in whole photography. It’s like choosing the right partner for the rest of your life.
Even experienced photographers tend to make their life living hell when it comes to replacing outdated and buying new equipment. Your camera is your photography vehicle. It needs to fit you and only you, and by that, we mean your style, line of work, and most importantly, the depth of your pocket.
The first rule of buying an expensive camera is: “I’m not buying anything that won’t pay for itself in a year.” So if you are planning to buy a two-thousand-dollar camera, but you are just starting and have three clients earning you five hundred dollars a year, you should consider lowering your standards.
Optimizing your purchase means that you will have all that extra money to spend on additional equipment and not waste it on buying a camera with half of the functions you don’t currently need or know how to use. Having all the fancy stuff that more expensive cameras have at the beginning of your career is counterproductive.
You’ll know you’re grown and upped your photography skills when you realize you have the ideas that overcome the capabilities of your camera. Then, and only then, are you ready for an upgrade.
Make Noise Online About Your Work
Can you imagine how hard it was for a young Kubrick to get exposed as an artist? Vivian Mayer? Luckily for you, we have invented the internet, and on it, there are countless websites and apps designed for you to publicize your work.
The need for visual aesthetics is constant. People like to see that you’re so into something that you publish your photos every day or every hour, for that matter. This will help you build your name in the photography game and establish a style that your photographs will be recognized for.
Exposing your work online will bring you the ability to face criticism and selectively apply it in your work. Don’t be afraid to get out of your cocoon and face those critics. You can choose to listen to them or go against anything they tell you. But either way, it will help you grow into the strong and confident photographer you need to be in order to succeed.
So get out there. The world is your canvas!