How to get into Photography

How to get into Photography | Essential Tips

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Photography is one of the most popular hobbies to get into nowadays. People from all walks of life pick up their cameras and snap away at various things that interest them because it’s an easy way to express creativity. Moreover, it is one of the few things that doesn’t cost much money to start, yet can still be a whole lot of fun to do.

There are several different types of photography, each with its own sub-types that you could take up – or even mix together! You could try everything from taking portraits to landscapes, to even wildlife. So if you’re wondering how to get into photography, you’ve come to the right place!

Steps on how to get into Photography

First things first: What gear do I need?

When starting out, there are two essential pieces of kit you’ll need – a camera and an SD card.

The first thing you need to know about photography (and most creative jobs) is that having expensive equipment will NOT suddenly make your work 100x better than if you took them with an iPhone or other average hardware.

It might help improve some aspects of your photos but ultimately, taking good pictures mainly comes down to creativity, hard work, and patience. So anyone who puts in enough time & effort can learn photography with pretty much any type of camera.

1. What is your budget?

Generally speaking, there are three main kinds of cameras you can go for when taking photos: compact cameras (also known as “point & shoot” cameras), mirrorless / DSLR, or even a smartphone!

Compact digital cameras are usually cheaper than the other two, but they might not always be the best option depending on what kind of photos you want to take. Zoom capabilities for instance, can be better on mirrorless or DLSRs.

2. How much manual control do you want?

A DSLR usually allows for excellent manual control. It also has different modes, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting things like shutter speed and aperture – which means people who aren’t comfortable with learning these can use a DSLR too.

On the other hand, compact digital cameras are usually great if you need an easy-to-use experience. That said, a device like an iPhone will likely offer the most straightforward experience.

3. How important is the optical zoom, sensor size, and image quality?

If you’re taking photos for fun or sharing online, a basic camera should be fine! However, suppose you want to make money off photos or take high-quality images for other reasons (e.g., editing).

In that case, it might be worth looking into DSLR cameras that offer better sensors & lenses in terms of clarity, sharpness, and higher megapixels (which means they can capture more detail).

4. Is saving photos to a memory card instead of internal memory important?

Some cameras don’t have any internal memory. In other cases, you might want to make data transfer easy. If this is something you want, make sure to look for it when buying your camera!

5. What kind of lenses do you need?

This mainly depends on what type of camera you buy – but most DSLRs come with at least one lens, while some compact digital cameras don’t allow lenses to be swapped in and out (e.g., the Sony CyberShot).

6. Do you intend to take photos in low light or at night?

If so, check the highest ISO sensitivity on the camera to tell how well the sensor performs when shooting under these conditions – higher numbers are better!

Note: there’s a big difference between noise (grainy quality) and dynamic range (can’t capture detail in shadow and bright areas at the same time) so make sure to read reviews carefully if this is something you’re looking for!


Getting started

The best tip I can give is to experiment with different things if you don’t know what you’re doing but are interested in getting better at photography. Do some research on your camera and find out what shutter speed, aperture & ISO are to have an idea of how all these work together!

Taking “ugly” photos might help eliminate your fear of not being good enough because sometimes, when photos look really bad, it gives you vital experience, and you’ll learn more by experimenting with it.


Write down ideas to work on

You’d be surprised at how many people don’t have their own project they want to work on. With this list, you’ll always have something to go back to when you’re stuck with your current project – just pick from the list of ideas!

It’s also good mental preparation before going out because it will make you look forward to going out and shooting, which is a surefire way not to get stuck in a rut or be too lazy even to go outside.

Noting down ideas also forces you to become more observant – it’s challenging to think of something original to shoot each day, but if you do this enough times, you’ll start seeing things every day around town that inspires you.

Whenever you have spare time (waiting for the bus/in line at the grocery store/etc.), go through each idea with yourself and see if there are any ideas, you can work on now, whether they’re just quick shots or longer projects.

It can be hard at first for beginners to come up with ideas but if you keep seeing things around you worth photographing (for example, an abandoned chair next to a fence), don’t be afraid of taking photos even if they might not turn out great!

People need practice too so having any experience you can get is better than nothing – take your time and try different things.


Start off easy

Whatever camera you have will likely be manual, so pick out an object close-by that inspires you and take some photos of it using different angles until one feels right – this will most likely be when the photo has good composition (where the object is in relation to other objects like lines, shapes, etc).

For inspiration, you can look at how-to guides for taking photos with your camera on Google; most cameras are very different in their controls. However, they’re generally similar enough to look up some helpful results for basic “how to take photos” guides with your specific model.


Experiment! Experiment! Experiment!

Experimenting is what makes photography fun! Once you’ve grasped the basics (using manual mode; understanding light; etc.), try new things until something stands out.

Whether it’s tilting your camera 90 degrees to do a vertical panoramic shot or holding your hand out in front of you and taking a photo looking down, it will look like you’re holding your hand out, and that’s all there is, but the image will show everything below your hand).

There are so many different styles of photography out there so find something that you’ll really enjoy looking at – whether it’s a certain photo subject, lighting, color scheme, etc.

I personally love urban/street photography and trying to capture the mood of a scene as well as the composition. If you have any questions or just want someone to talk to about photography then feel free to ask!


Don’t be intimidated by other Photographers

You don’t have to compare yourself to others, especially if they’re a lot better than you (because there will always be someone better).

Not everyone takes impressive photos, but that doesn’t stop them from enjoying the hobby just as much as anyone else. Everyone has their own unique style and way of taking pictures so try not to let others get you down!

If people are getting mad at you for sharing your work, they’re probably just insecure about their own skills and need to go out and shoot more rather than tearing apart someone else’s work. If you can’t stand criticism, remember that there are people who will appreciate your photos, too – no matter how many “likes” or comments your photos get online.

To sum it up: Just keep in mind that you don’t have to take perfect photos, and if your composition is off or things aren’t quite how you wanted them, you can always delete them or try again!

When practicing photography, it’s better to focus on improving yourself rather than getting distracted by what other people might think of your work.

I know this sounds like bad advice but trust me, you’ll end up enjoying photography a lot more when it becomes something that makes you happy instead of stressing you out.


Make social media useful

Social media sites like Flickr, 500px, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., are very good ways of sharing your work with other photographers as well as keeping yourself accountable for getting out and taking photos.

Try and find artists that inspire you and offer them support! People usually forget that these sites are a two-way street where everyone can benefit from constructive criticism/praise.


Experiment with other mediums

If digital photography isn’t your cup of tea, try film photography or painting with light – there are tons of different kinds of art media out there and I’d say don’t stick to just one if something else interests you.

Some people prefer using their DSLR for film photography while others use point and shoots; some paint light on a wall/building at night while others drag a light box around the city.

For people who have been in photography for a long time to find them doing everything from drawing on their photos with ink pens to painting on top of them with watercolors.


Watch movies and documentaries

I’ve found that watching movies and documentaries is another way to get inspired to take photos (even if the image you end up taking isn’t anything like what you saw in the movie).

While looking through your viewfinder, being outside can be very relaxing; it gives you a perspective of things you might not notice when walking by or traveling somewhere.

Watching how other photographers use landscapes or lighting, in general, is also good practice for picking up on what you like and don’t like in a photo.


Think outside the box

I’ve had some of my best shots come from either something I saw while walking to class/sidewalk crawling or just having an idea stuck in my head that I’d like to try and turn into a photo. Don’t forget that there’s more than just “taking pretty photos” – think about other ideas!

So those are all the things I’d recommend as photography tips for people who want to get into it! What do you find helpful as far as keeping motivated inspired? Do you have any other tips for people who are just starting out?


Photograph your friends

Another tip I have for beginners is that photographing friends or other people might seem intimidating at first because of where you live (for example, if you live in an area that isn’t too populated), but don’t let the fear of getting strangers’ attention keep you from practicing!

Your friends will probably be more than happy to pose for pictures and could even suggest ideas like walking down the street in a certain way to get a better shot (and walking in general is usually okay if you’re not blocking traffic).


Get up early/stay up late

I know it sounds obvious, but there’s so much to photograph outside when the sun is still up or right before it rises – whether you’re waiting at a bus stop or standing next to a streetlight, try having your camera ready.


Get a tripod

There are a couple of reasons why a tripod is helpful, especially when you first start out. First of all, it’s helpful because you can set up your camera & frame the scene exactly how you want before taking photos without having to worry about keeping your camera steady or moving your subject matter!

And secondly, having a tripod allows you to take longer exposures which are great for creating motion blur in waterfalls or cars.


Shoot in Manual mode and RAW

Manual mode will be helpful for when it comes to doing anything from novice photography all the way up to astrophotography, so it’s definitely something worth learning – I’d recommend getting an older camera that doesn’t have automatic modes because there’s more you can do with them than just point & shoot.

It might seem frustrating at first but since you have full control over the settings, don’t be afraid of trying something new or checking out tutorials online because it could turn into something that interests you a lot!

RAW photos are good because they won’t lose quality just because you brought them into a photo editor to play around with the settings – they’re basically just a file that’s not compressed yet.


Summing things up

Be patient

This is definitely something that I’m learning about myself – it can be difficult to frame the perfect shot at first since many photos don’t look good when they’re composed or exposed incorrectly so you have to be able willing to take your time and go out while thinking about what kind of photos you’d like to get instead of rushing things.

And while manual mode can be a little intimidating for beginners, it’s usually better than leaving your camera on auto-mode since then the camera will pick settings depending on surrounding light & objects, not willing framing/subject matter.


Keep shooting

Photography isn’t just about taking one photo but capturing multiple ones of the same subject matter in order to get the perfect one.

For example, when photographing animals, they usually aren’t still for very long so by taking lots of photos in burst mode (or continuous), you’ll be able to take more detailed shots instead of just getting a couple where the animal is looking in the wrong direction.

And when taking photos of people, it can be difficult to capture just one good photo out of many so keep practicing!


Keep practicing!

You won’t become a great photographer overnight. Whatever camera(s) you have now provide much more to learn; different settings (aperture/shutter speed/etc.), various lenses (wide angle vs zoom vs prime), etc.

There are so many things to discover and I’d recommend keeping it as an on-going project instead of trying to pick up something new every time you want to take photos – the chances of you giving up becomes much higher than if you keep it casual and relaxed.

Also, try and find some way to improve your photos daily/weekly/monthly – whether it’s trying to find a new angle on something you’ve already shot or experimenting with light in your house. It will make photography more of a habit and make you excited to go out and shoot, too!


Have fun!

It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of photography, especially if you’ve been doing it for a while and some of your photos still don’t look great. 

It can be disheartening when you’re trying to improve but taking some time off from it and playing around with other things is more helpful than letting yourself worrying about “not getting good enough.”

I find that after taking two days off from photographing anything, I’ll usually feel inspired to start retaking photos (although it might take me an hour or so before I’m able to get back into the flow).

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