All beginnings are difficult? That’s not always true. At least that doesn’t apply to the question of how to get into photography – even if you think it does. You have a camera and want to start taking great pictures? Well then, read these beginner’s guide to photography and you will quickly evolve from a photography beginner to an ambitious enthusiast.
#1 Use exactly the camera you already have
Do you believe you can take better pictures with a new camera? Forget that right away. Take the camera you have and get going. Many photography beginners doubt the capabilities of their camera skills and see them as the main reason why their photos don’t improve.
Have a look at pictures by Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson or Robert Capa. They were pioneers in photography and they photographed with analog cameras. With cameras that are not comparable to today’s technology. Don’t (immediately) invest in new equipment, but first learn the basics of photography.
I won the 3rd place in an architecture competition of the prestigious London Society of Commercial & Industrial Photographers for this picture – shot with a beginner DSLR camera.
#2 Out of automatic mode
Digital photography for beginners rule: Before you invest in a new camera, learn the basics of photography. Learn to get away from automatic mode by mastering the exposure triangle. The exposure triangle is the correlation between aperture, shutter speed and ISO. If you know that, you can start shooting amazing photos.
The automatic mode doesn’t help you with the effects you might want to achieve. It doesn’t know if you want a blurred background or if you want the whole picture to be sharp. It doesn’t know if you want to freeze or blur motion. In addition, the camera’s light meter is confused by strong light-dark contrasts and your image quickly becomes too bright or too dark. If you know how to expose manually, you can create great effects. Also, you control the camera, not the other way around.
#3 Fehler machen und daraus lernen
Don’t be frustrated if your photos aren’t always perfect. Making mistakes is part of it. Every photographer makes them, I make them, too. Accept and learn from them. It is important, however, to learn photography basics. Then you will know much more quickly where the problem lies and how to fix it.
These are two of the photos I took when I got started in photography and relied on the camera’s auto mode. Wrong focusing and too long shutter speed are common beginner mistakes in photography.
#4 Learn how light works
The word photography originates from the Greek and means drawing with light. Many beginners in photography hardly or not at all deal with the subject of light. It is decisive whether a photo is breathtaking, good or not good. Most people make the mistake of concentrating too much on the camera settings rather than on the light. What is the point of a technically perfect photo if the light is pale?
Have you experienced this before and photographed a landscape at midday in strong sunlight? What did colors and structures look like? Boring and muddy? The sun is very high at noon and as a result, the light becomes very hard and your photo will look dull.
We’re looking for warm light. You will find it in the morning, in the late afternoon and in the evening for sunset. The colors look nice and warm, golden and the light is soft. Warm colors look more harmonious to the viewer, he feels much more attracted to them. Scroll through Instagram and observe your behavior. A sunset photo makes you pause, doesn’t it?
The blue hour is a great time to take fantastic photos. It is the time before sunrise and after sunset when the sun is 4-8 degrees below the horizon. The ozone layer absorbs the yellow and red color components and the blue ones remain. This causes the sky to turn magically blue.
When looking at the light, also note the direction from where it comes. Sidelight comes – as the name suggests – from the side. The shadows fall on the side and create a dramatic contrast.
With backlight, your subject is in front of the light source and then becomes a silhouette. Outstanding buildings or bridges but also people are particularly suitable for silhouette photos.
The front light is light that comes from the front. It is very popular in portrait photography. Soft front light has a very flattering effect and is particularly popular with best agers because it makes fine lines disappear from the face.
If you’d ask me how to start photography? I’d suggest you should be studying the effects of light. Find a subject near you that you like and photograph it once in the morning, once at noon, late afternoon and early evening. Observe how the photo transforms as the light changes.
#5 Image composition
Especially photography beginners do not yet deal with image composition, but more with technique and camera settings. Image composition is a complex topic, which is incredibly exciting because with a few simple rules and tricks you can create fantastic photos. Have a look at these three simple ways to make your picture instantly more compelling.
Find a leading line. A leading line can be a straight line, it can be diagonal or s-shaped. It serves the purpose of guiding the viewer of your photo into the picture. Leading lines can be rivers, paths, roads, trees, stones, etc.
Find a foreground. If you add a foreground to your subject, it adds depth. It also directs the viewer’s first glance at it and only then lets them go back into the picture. A foreground can be a stone, a person, a park bench, a leaf.
Apply the rule of thirds. With the rule of thirds, you divide your picture into 9 rectangles. You draw two horizontal and two vertical lines and place your subject on a line or intersection. This makes the image look more balanced and gives your subject space within the photo.
#6 You can find motifs everywhere
“Where I live, there’s nothing to photograph.”
“I won’t be on holiday for another three months when I can take photos again.”
“My city isn’t very photogenic.”
“I have already photographed everything in my city. Now I ran out of motifs.
Be honest: Does all this look familiar to you? You think you can’t find any motifs in your familiar surroundings. I have to tell you: there are motifs everywhere. It often only takes a new perspective to see things. These are a few tips to help your creativity.
Choose a theme and concentrate on photographing just this particular theme. It could be a certain color, for example. Go out and photograph only the color blue. You will discover how many different shades of blue there are. Or you choose a shape and photograph everything that is round for three hours. Or you choose reflections as your key theme and look out for reflections.
Do not be distracted by other subjects, but stick to your chosen topic. This exercise trains your eye for new things.
In paragraph 5 you have already learned three possibilities of image composition. Try one after one and focus on it for one day. Search for leading lines, search for foreground and frame your picture with the rule of thirds. If you consciously look for it, you will see how many things you will spot. Give it a try. But remember: choose only one theme at a time.
More photography for beginners tips for you
#7 Look for inspiration
One more digital photography for beginners tip: seek inspiration. Scroll through Instagram, Flickr, 500px, Facebook photography groups, portfolios and catch suggestions from other photographers. You’ll discover a location in your area that you’ve never photographed before. Or you’ll be inspired for a particular theme you haven’t thought about before. Who knows, maybe you will discover your passion for macro photography? Or suddenly you become obsessed with black and white photography?
Don’t try to copy, find your own style.
#8 Practice, practice, practice
How to get into photography is quite simple: The more you practice, the better your photos will become.
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”.
This quote should not discourage you, but on the contrary, inspire you to go out and practice. You’ll learn so much, you’ll find your style, you’ll discover new places in your city and hopefully, you’ll also experience how wonderful photography can be. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t always work out. I recommend you once again to learn the photography basics. And then you can concentrate on manifesting them and start taking amazing photos.
I hope you enjoyed my beginner’s guide to photography. Send me your questions and let me know about your progress.
Don’t forget to have fun!