Today I have made a list of the 100 photography tips for beginners every photographer should read. When I first started out, it was back in the mid 90s, I had a Canon EOS 5 film camera and I had to figure it all out by myself…I made a lot of mistakes and the learning process was a lot longer than it is now…but if I could start it all again…I’d tell my alternate self these tips to get better at a faster rate than if I was just randomly taking photos from time to time, hoping to get better.
If you want to shoot photographs with a blurry background, I start off with tips and techniques for those, if you really don’t like the blurry background look, I cover other ways to get your photos looking nice and crisp and I give you a whole myriad of tips and tricks that I have learned over the 25 years that photography has been in my life.
If you’re worried about not having the pro level up to date gear, don’t worry about that…you can get some great images with an entry level camera and it can teach you so much about photography…even if it is an older camera, what we have nowadays is leaps and bounds ahead of anything we had in the early 2000s…
I also cover a lot of different tips and tricks for landscape photography. This is what I am passionate about when I am not shooting for corporate clients, or doing professional headshots for businesses and their personnel … and even though with the current “situation” where we can’t travel as much as we normally would be able to, landscape photography offers so many different challenges so having a few tips and tricks up your sleeve will really help you get much better photographs.
So get a pen and paper ready, as I have put together 100 tips for the beginner photographer!
- Use auto as a safety net – if you get really confused with what does what
- Start shooting in RAW
- Use a wide aperture for shooting portraits
- Use a longer focal length for shooting portraits
- Learn to use the aperture priority mode when you want to control the aperture
- Learn to use the shutter priority when you want to control shutter speed
- If you want a blurry background, move your subject away from the background…
- If you can’t get your background out of focus, get closer to your subject.
- Learn to use flash in manual flash mode
- Don’t be afraid to raise your iso…and nowadays it can go higher than you think.
- Noise is better than blur
- Learn how exposure compensation works in your camera…and where to find it.
- Unless you want a really shallow depth of focus, get your camera to it’s preferable aperture…it’s normally around about f8…but can range between f5.6 and f11. I shoot a lot of portraits for corporate companies at f5.6 to f8 and they come out super sharp.
- Learn the rule of thirds
- Ignore people who say the rule of thirds is rubbish
- Focus on the eyes…this is why there has been such a big push recently from the camera companies to get great eye-AF…and it is well worth it.
- Patrol your edges…if something creeps into your shot and you’re not aware of it, it can sometimes ruin the photo.
- Invest in a goop planning app – Photopills
- Learn about the histogram – This is an essential tool to help you get a better balanced shot.
- Keep an eye on your background and what is in it…it is amazing how easily you can miss something that is so distracting…
- Invest in a good photo editing program – Adobe, capture one, dark table – not only money but time as well to learn it properly.
- Look through your photos from time to time and see if there has been an improvement…try and learn what you are doing wrong and what you need to work on.
- Find a mentor – This could be someone on line or in person, but having someone that is on the next level to you is really important to help push you and your photography to the next level.
- Learn to hold your camera properly
- Once you shoot in RAW, know that white balance is not that important in the taking stage but more so in the editing stage.
- Switch your camera to manual and head out to a park or somewhere nearby where there are no pressures to get the shot…and learn about manual
- Learn your camera setup…mainly where to access and change your principle settings; aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
- Don’t think that you have to buy the best gear straight away…photography is a hobby that will last for years and you will build up a decent set of gear over time.
- Have a camera setup that you can take everywhere with you…the best camera is the one you have with you.
- Plan some Photographs you want to take
- GO and do those shoots you have planned
- When shooting a subject, be it a person, a place or an object, work around it…shoot it from different angles, different focal lengths and different heights…it’s amazing what you can get and how different you can make your subject look.
- Take photos regularly.
- Do a sunrise landscape shoot – this will either help you fall in love with landscape photography…or make you realise you’re not a morning person and maybe landscape photography is not for you.
- Learn about the exposure triangle and how it helps you know how your three principle settings interact with each other.
- If you’re not a morning person, photograph sunsets
- If you’re not a morning person and you shoot sunsets, learn how to photoshop people out of your photographs.
- Photograph everything…ie parties, landscapes, people, whatever is in front of you, photograph it…even if there are no good photos from one event, you’ll build up your time behind the camera and after a while it will become second nature to know where all of those principle settings are.
- Find some events near you and go and photograph them…be it a running event, a car race, some bikers going down a trail…there will be events around you…as long as there isn’t a global pandemic…and these are great ways to have a subject ready and waiting for you to photograph.
- Find different locations to shoot the same subject.
- Shoot the same subject at different times of the day.
- Try to find shapes in what you are photographing and think of ways to incorporate them into your photos.
- Look for leading lines to draw the viewer into your shot.
- Get the sun into your frame…and make it burst…tip…shoot with high aperture numbers…f11-f18.
- Look for a foreground element…it might not work but if you start looking for them, it will train your mind to think in the right way.
- Emulate, then create…if you see a photo you like of a place you are visiting or you live nearby…try to recreate it first of all, but then see if you can find a better photograph of that subject.
- Try astrophotography…
- Realise it takes a few days to recover from a full night of astrophotography.
- If you are shooting a big landscape, try finding something to give it scale…whether it is a person in the shot, a building or a boat…put something in the frame to show how grand it is and it will look even more grand!
- Look around when you are photographing a scene…you might be surprised at what you see behind you.
- Back up your photos as soon as you can.
- Clear your SD cards as soon as you have backed up your photos.
- Delete the rubbish photos…the ones that are out of focus or horrible and blurry.
- Spend more on your memory cards – The speed of the card will slow you down
- Buy more than one memory card – They can and do fail…and you’ll kick yourself if you don’t have a backup.
- Mirrorless will help you learn at a much quicker rate
- Mirrorless will make you a lazy photographer
- Turn your built in flash off…completely…
- Read your cameras manual…it may surprise you as to how much your camera can actually do.
- Try and get some critical feedback – and I don’t mean your mum saying she loves your images…or the numerous gushing comments on Facebook…seek out some proper critical feedback
- When you get critical feedback, don’t take it personally…they are trying to help you become a better photographer.
- Share your photos on line
- Don’t share your photos across multiple Facebook groups…the same people will probably be in those groups and the last thing they will want to see is 5 of the same picture in 5 different groups…this is pet peeve of mine…
- Shoot at the eye level of your subject
- Learn about the shutter focal length rule…and then see how much you can break this rule by…
- Know when to use a tripod
- Carry less gear
- If you have more than one lens, just take one with you.
- If you have a shot in mind, scout the location to see if it is any good.
- Go out and shoot in bad weather…even if you have to buy a jacket for your camera.
- Golden hour can produce some great light to make your job easier.
- Know that you can break all of the rules when you want to…but you need to know them first…especially the rule of thirds…
- Take your time in learning photography…and learn to enjoy the process…I look at other peoples work and think I am a rubbish photographer…and then I look at my photos from years ago and realise how far I’ve come.
- Don’t get yourself down by looking at all of the great work that is already out there.
- Look at the amazing work on line and try to figure out how they took it…
- You can learn a lot about lighting by watching tv…I annoy my wife by telling her exactly how a certain scene in her favourite show was created…or I sometimes point out the lighting faults…
- Tell a story with a group of photos.
- Try reducing the amount of photos you need to tell the story.
- Play with shutter speed to create motion.
- Learn to pan with the motion of your subject.
- If you get lucky with a great shot but you don’t have a clue how you got it…go back over the settings and what you did to get it and you’ll learn from it.
- If you have a zoom lens, try shooting the same subject at different focal lengths. Wide from near and far, telephoto from near and far…and then mix up the height you shoot from as well…
- We live in a 3d space and try to record it on a 2d plane…add depth by layering your photos.
- Try breaking the rule of thirds for a day…
- Use burst mode for quick moving subjects.
- Try photographing the same subject in both portrait and landscape orientation.
- If your subject is unpredictable, shoot in aperture priority. F8 and be there – Arthur Weegee Felig
- If your subject moves really fast, shoot in shutter priority.
- Try to shoot something you haven’t photographed before.
- Fill the frame.
- Get closer to the details.
- Study the masters of art…you’ll learn a lot about composition and lighting from ancient works of art.
- Turn your lens hood around…
- Megapixels matter less than you might think.
- Get a prime lens and shoot with it for a week.
- Try long exposure photography…either in the city at night (if it is safe), a fireworks event or a landscape under moonlight.
- Look for reflections and get them into your frame.
- Keep an eye on your horizon…either perfectly flat or cock it out by at least 10 degrees…and if you mess up, reframe when editing.
- Learn to edit your photos
- Make mistakes, don’t worry about making them and actually encourage them…and then laugh at yourself when you realise what you have done…
What do you think of my 100 photography tips for beginners? do you like it? if so, go over to my youtube page and comment…that is where I like to communicate with my subscribers.
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