If you’re new to photography or thinking about getting into photography, professionally or just for fun, here are 10 Tips to learn photography just a little quicker!
Take a Class
The lure of photography is always near, and when I decided to try it out, I registered for my first photography class in 2000. It will give you an overall feel for the craft, your camera, and what you might want to pursue or concentrate on. Check our your local community college & art schools for options. Other options include a taking a seminar or workshop which are shorter, but slightly more intense.
Get on Manual Mode
As scary as it sounds, you need to go full manual mode & read your camera manual. Don’t play with AP (aperture priority) or SP(shutter priority) just yet. Commit to taking the extra time to decipher the manual settings and what each dial does. Now with digital age, it’s a simple check to the back of the camera …so don’t get too frazzled by your first dark photo! Work at improving and learning from it!
Find a Mentor or Assist a Photographer
Become an assistant to as many different photographers that you can. I’ve photographed with dozens of different photographers. At first, you might want to assist for free (since they really have to teach you everything) and then slowly get a few paying assisting jobs. Not only will you see the differences in style, but you’ll see what approach you like best and then be able to put your own twist. If you’re smart, you’ll also assist different types of photographers: follow a newborn photographer vs a wedding photographer vs a landscape photographer. You might end up realizing that you really are geared more towards a unique genre than what you ever envisioned.
Take a Self Portrait
I know. They are the worst! You’ll notice that awful wrinkle that’s coming in or those freckles you can’t keep your eyes off. Plus, you think it makes you look super vain! But it will be one of the hardest photo assignments you ever take on if you make a real effort for self expression, and you’ll earn a new-found respect for those who will be in front of your camera later on. You’ll notice, that relaxing in front of the camera is not as easy as telling someone to relax in front of the camera.
Photograph your Family and Friends…then move on
You want to start with someone who has a little more patience with you, maybe someone who is fond of the arts and respects photography as a craft. I would suggest not starting with children because you can’t fully grasp photographic concepts while running around chasing a two year-old. Do that a little later. Practice posing, lighting and directing. After you photograph a few friends and family members, find strangers to photograph. Always be one step away from your comfort zone. A great place to look for new subjects are websites like Model Mayhem where you can collaborate with other creatives.
Join online Photographic Communities
You might be mind-boggled by some of the topics they bring up, but just getting yourself surrounded by the photographic mentality can keep you motivated! Find friends locally and internationally that can help support , motivate, or inspire you to become a better photographer. Great places to look are Facebook Groups & Local Photography Meetups.
Regardless if you want to be a professional or you’re just having fun I encourage everyone to get online. Start a blog today and post your pictures, stories and your progress. You can get a free blog via WordPress or Blogger and they make it super easy to start publishing! Having a website or a blog keeps you motivated to post new work, and therefore keep shooting! It’s a great self-motivator!
Have Assignments & Keep a Photographic Journal
You might feel overwhelmed in the process of learning photography so a great suggestion is to keep a journal showing your pictures, explosure settings, lighting, any difficulties and how you felt about it. You can use your blog as your photo-journal or actually create a physical journal for your thoughts! To keep your journal moving give yourself assignments. It can be as simple as shooting patterns or colors, or as technical as learning long exposures or light painting!
I get it, it can be hard. Trust me. When I first started shooting weddings I totally thought I rocked it until the photographer I was second shooting for told me I should straighten out my camera. DING! I hadn’t realized I was the photo-angle queen until then. And as much and it feels like a painful little stab, the light bulb really does go off sometimes. This comes with a warning: make sure you ask the right people, don’t take any trash talking for trash talking sake and make sure they are giving you purposeful feedback. AND – be ready to take criticism; remember you asked for it and thank them for it. If you disagree with an argument, just be ready to state your position. The idea is to get you thinking about how others perceive your work and to get you thinking as to the “why” you took the photograph in the beginning.
Look for what Inspires you
Feed your passion! It might be newborn portraits, it might be landscapes, it might be tabletop settings. Whatever it may be, delve in it, learn it, practice it and cultivate it. If you hate shooting families but have friends who keep hounding you for family photos, tell them your focus is on landscapes. There is no shame in specializing. Actually, that’s a great thing!