First Steps For The Photography Beginner

Dan Eitreim

February 20, 2015

Digital cameras have to be ranked among the most far reaching and pervasive inventions of the modern times. Just a few years ago, digital photography didn’t even exist and now every teenager (and a lot of preteens) owns a cell phone with better photo capabilities than some of the film cameras from the past.

And they use them! Go to any public place and within a few seconds you’ll see someone taking a picture…even if it is only a picture of themselves. The word “selfie” didn’t exist more than a year or two ago and now it is already showing up in most dictionaries.

A sizeable portion of the selfie taking, cell phone camera shooters will be bitten by the “photo bug” and will want to buy a camera with more options and move their photos to the next level.

Here are a few steps the beginner can take to learn – faster- how to get those stunning shots they see in photo magazines and contests.

  1. Master your camera. A HUGE mistake is getting a camera with all the bells and whistles, and then putting it on the automatic setting and permanently leaving it there. Read the manual that came with it! Yes, I know it is boring, but start at page one and with camera in hand, learn everything on that page. Then go to page two. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn by the time you’ve finished the manual. Best of all – it’s FREE! You already have it!
  2. Understand what the white balance is for and what type of setting will give you the best results in various situations. Auto settings won’t do the job – by the way.
  3. If you haven’t yet gotten your camera, I suggest a DSLR. This means it’s a camera where you can interchange the lenses. It won’t be long before you outgrow a camera with a fixed lens and end up getting a DSLR anyway. Save a few bucks and get one at the star.
  4. Use your on camera flash even when you are outdoors. It can be used to fill in shadows when the sun is in a bad position and it will greatly intensify the colors in most of your shots. (That’s a pro tip that will put the “wow” factor into your photos!)
  5. Study the composition of your photo. If the subject matter is primarily vertical (a standing person for example) turn the camera sideways and take a vertical shot! It will cut out a lot of dead space on the sides and give you a much more professional look.
  6. Putting your subject directly in the center, bulls-eye position – in the frame can usually be improved on by using the rule of thirds, Look at any photo composition book and it is generally the first “rule” listed. Here it is… imagine a tic-tac-toe grid overlaid on your viewfinder. By placing you subjects on one of the four power points where the lines intersect will greatly improve the visual interest of your shot.
  7. When possible, use a tripod. Camera shake is the number one killer of a great image. It may look ok on your tiny viewing screen, but it will completely fall apart and become an unfocused, blurry mess when viewed at any larger size.
  8. If you can’t use a tripod, use a good stance to hold your camera steady. Look through the view finder. Holding the camera tightly against your face is always much more stable than holding it out at arm’s length and looking at the viewing screen. Cup you left hand around the bottom of the camera and with your right, hold it to your face. Keep your stance solid.
  9. Study other photographer’s work. Try to figure out why the photo either works or doesn’t. In either case, try to find a couple ways in which the photo could be improved and grab you camera and see if you can’t just duplicate the image, but make it better. They say that imitation is the highest form of compliment, but it is also a very fast way to learn. But, don’t just copy, try to make it better and create your own unique style.
  10. Join some online communities. They are ready and willing to help you! Take advantage.

These tips will help you get started – soon your photos will start getting the “oohs” and “aahs” we want to hear from the people who see our photos.

To learn more about a great online class, check out – Photography Master Class

For a bit of fun check out – Trick Photography

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