11 Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners (How to Get Started)

11 Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners (How to Get Started)

11 photography tips for absolute beginners

So you’ve decided to take up photography – but how do you begin? How do you cope with gear, camera settings , and Photoshop? More importantly, how do you start getting beautiful pictures, fast?

In this article, I aim to share plenty of advice for photography beginners, including:

  • How to buy the right gear
  • Strategies for improving your skills ASAP
  • How to choose the right camera settings
  • Where to start with post-processing

Are you ready to jumpstart your photography hobby? Let’s dive right in!

1 . Research gear (but don’t go overboard)

Your gear does not make you an excellent photographer.

Actually , if you are just starting out, a premier of the line camera will not only be a waste of money, but it will also make your learning process trickier. A bit like buying a race car to learn to drive.

When you want to buy gear – whether it’s your first camera/lens/accessory or your tenth – do your research. It’s helpful to take a look at some photography forums or articles for camera recommendations. Once you find something that sounds viable and fits your budget, read professional and user reviews to determine whether it’ll satisfy your needs.

man with a camera beginner

repayments Take lots of photographs

“Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst. ” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

As with any skill, the more you practice, the better you get. So the quickest way to get better? Simply head out with a camera and start capturing.

Of course, knowledge does matter, but there’s something essential about holding a camera in your hands, looking through the viewfinder, and considering different compositions . Make an effort to spend at least a few hours each week behind the lens (and more is better! ). It doesn’t necessarily matter  what  you shoot – as long as you’re shooting, you’re improving.

And don’t beat your self up if your shots don’t turn out the way you’ve envisioned. Part of photography is approximately failing repeatedly; over time, you’ll learn how to get the result you want, and you’ll come home with an increase of and more keepers.

3. Read the manual

Camera manuals are quite possibly the most boring thing you have ever read in your life, and reading the camera manual is certainly the absolute most boring thing you’ll ever do in pursuit of photographic improvement.

That said, It is advisable to do it anyway.

man reading a camera manual falling asleep

Camera manuals are not exactly a riveting read.

Why? It’s important to discover how your camera actually works, particularly in the beginning. And the information will become useful down the line, too. You’ll be out in the field and you’ll want to know how to change a particular setting; if you’ve read the manual thoroughly, you’ll be able to figure it out on the fly. On the other hand, if you haven’t  read the manual, you’ll be forced to look up guidelines on your phone, and at the same time your photo opportunity will more than likely have disappeared.

Of course, you don’t need certainly to read the manual all at once. I would suggest you place it where you can push through in small installments while you are killing time, including the bathroom, the car, or at the office during your lunch break.

4. Don’t start with workshops

So you’ve got the photography bug. You might be thinking, “Ooh! I’ll sign up to a bunch of workshops; like that, I can improve really fast. ”

And workshops are great. However they tend to be geared more toward enthusiasts – photographers who understand the basics and are trying to level up their skills in composition, lighting, and advanced techniques. That’s why I don’t recommend going nuts with workshops immediately. Instead, you should really focus on the basics:

  • How to operate your camera
  • The meaning of different photography terminology
  • How to determine the proper settings for the situation

Fortunately, you’ve already taken a step in the proper direction, because you are currently reading one of the most useful photography internet sites on the internet. There are more recommendations and tutorials on this site than you will ever need, particularly for a beginner. Once you have the hang of things, then you’ll have a better idea of the type of workshops that would suit you, and you might consider that route.

So I’m not saying that you shouldn’t execute a workshop – just that you ought to wait until you know what suits your needs.

5. Connect with other photographers

Learning photography with others is often  invaluable  – whether you sign up to an on line group or you join a local camera club.

For one, your photography will progress faster, plus it will be far more fun with the help of your fellow shutterbugs.

Man photographing with someone else

Connecting with other photographers is a superb way to learn and get inspired.

Camera clubs often have monthly competitions and may organize photo tours, exhibitions, and other activities. Talking with knowledgeable photographers and on occasion even fellow beginners will not only inspire you, but also keep you motivated.

Also, sign up to some reputable photography newsletters and Facebook pages, if not reach out to photographers you admire. Most professional photographers don’t mind answering a few questions, so long as you are respectful, polite, and don’t demand too much of their time.

6. Try everything

This piece of advice is short and sweet.

While you may have taken up photography with a certain genre or subject in mind, it could be helpful to try all genres. You never know what you might have a knack for, or what you will learn along the way.

So shoot landscapes. Shoot portraits. Head out to the streets and do some urban photography. Find a beautiful flower and photograph close ups.

You never know; you might find a genre that you absolutely  love  and hadn’t ever considered.

7. Get feedback

Your friends and family may love you, but they will lie to you about your photography (and they may not even know what to look for). Unless you have a very honest friend or family member who actually knows a bit about art, it’s often more good for get feedback from strangers.

Signing up to a photo sharing site where others can comment on work will get you mostly honest feedback (sometimes brutally so). Years back, I posted the image below on a feedback site. I knew the image had faults, but I was keen to hear what another person could point out and how they could help me improve.

woman standing on a cloud

Well, one fellow submitted a lengthy comment, basically pulling the image apart. That he pointed out what seemed like several  million faults, and he really went to town on it. But while the comments were painful and borderline unkind, it was useful advice that I could then apply to my next portrait photo shoot.

8. Enter free competitions

If you have money to spend and confidence in your work, you should, enter some of the big competitions – even as a beginner. You wouldn’t be the first to take a major prize within the first few months of picking up a camera.

Even if you don’t desire to spend money to enter competitions, there are plenty of free options. Throw in some images, see how the contest goes, and hey – maybe you’ll win!

9. Aim to get off Auto mode

If you really want to be a good photographer, this is vital.

Because while Auto mode is useful enough when you’re just getting started, it’ll eventually hold you back, and it’ll truly prevent you from realizing your full potential.

You don’t need certainly to rush, though. At first, just enjoy photographing, even if meaning using Auto mode constantly.

Then slowly move up the ladder as you familiarize yourself with Program mode , Aperture Priority mode , and eventually Manual mode .

photography tips for beginners woman with a camera

In reality, manual settings aren’t very nearly as difficult as some beginners think. It can be a bit like learning to drive. Initially, it’ll be challenging to control gears, indicators, and steering, all while trying to not veer off the road. But with a bit of patience and practice, it’ll become second nature.

(When you are ready to try manual settings, there are plenty of beginner guides  and cheat sheets here on dPS! )

10. Get a post-processing program

Becoming a serious photographer, you’ll in the course of time need an editing program.

Why? Because these days, editing is an crucial part of the photographic process. If you’d like your photos to look their utmost, then you must learn to edit.

laptop and food on a bed

These days, your “darkroom” can sit with you during intercourse (alongside some extras! )

Which post-processing program is best?

Well, there are free programs such as Darktable and GIMP , which are nice but have their limitations. Then there are the big guns like Photoshop and Lightroom , which may be daunting for beginners. Personally, I would recommend just forging ahead with Lightroom; if you intend to sooner or later get serious with your photography, it’s a hugely of use tool to understand, plus it’s not as difficult as it might initially seem.

Alternatively, you might consider an option such as ON1 Photo RAW or Luminar 4 , both of which are slightly more beginner friendly than Lightroom yet pack a  lot  of power.

11. Have fun

This is the best and most essential part of photography:

The enjoyment of it!

Don’t get bogged down by unsuccessful attempts or by comparing yourself to professionals. Even the best photographers in the world were beginners at some point. Just keep taking photographs, keep learning, keep challenging yourself, and most importantly, keep enjoying the fun you can have with photography!

Photography tips for beginners: final words

Hopefully, you’re now feeling inspired – and you’re ready to continue the learning process.

Photography is an adventure, and it’s a fun one, too. Sure, you will see ups and downs, but in the end, you’ll be glad you persevered!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Lea Hawkins

Lea Hawkins

is an Australian photographer working mainly in the areas of portraiture, art work, and for the local press. Her work has been published, exhibited, selected and collected – locally, nationally and internationally, in many forms. All shot with very minimal gear and the photographic philosophy that it’s not so much the equipment, but what you do with it. You can view more of her work at www.leahawkins.com

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