Have you made a promise to yourself that this will be the year you actually learn how to use your camera?
If the answer’s yes, then you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things you think you need to learn to be able to finally take your settings off ‘auto’ and get the kinds of photos you want. Before you jump in to learning all the technical and creative parts of photography, there are some other little things that I think everyone who is new to photography should know, to help ease you along your journey.
1. Enjoy the process
I remember how long it took me to really get my head around the technical side of photography. It felt so hard to put it all together and make sense of it all, so instead of stressing out about it I took my time.
I actually did a distance learning course in the end, and did it over quite a long stretch of time. Taking the time to really understand it all made the whole process easier, and more enjoyable, for me.
So don’t feel you need to learn it all at once. Try and enjoy the process of learning, and seeing your photos improve over time. See the thing is, like with most things, there is always more to learn with photography. You’ll always be striving to improve your work, to be more creative, to learn new techniques. So just try and have fun with it and let yourself be a beginner.
2. Black and white covers a multitude of sins
No matter how long you’ve been taking photos, you’ll always end up with some situations where the pictures you take just aren’t quite right.
They might be a bit blurry, or blown out with bright highlights. It might be that the place you’re shooting in is really cluttered, with loads of distractions in the background. In these, and lots of other, situations black and white can be your best friend.
Converting the image to black and white either in photoshop/lightroom, a free site like Canva, or in-camera if you have that option is generally quick and easy to do and can transform photos that you might delete into real keepers.
3. Take time to learn the rules, so you know which ones to break
There are quite a few ‘rules’ of photography, mostly related to composition and lighting. Things like the rule of thirds, filling the frame and not cutting off limbs when you photograph people. They’re all really important to learn, know and practice.
Then once you’ve got them all mastered, you can start to intentionally break them to tell more of a story and get more creative with your photos.
4. Learn your settings and get things right in camera
Take your time to really get to know your camera and its settings so you can get things right at the time of taking the photo, rather than ‘fixing’ images in photoshop afterwards.
Now, we all make mistakes and have photos that need to be saved and editing software is a brilliant tool for this. It’s also great to be able to tweak images the same way people have always done in darkrooms.
But try not to rely on post processing. Make it your aim to get the image to look the way you want it to look, as best you can anyway, at the time of taking the photo.
5. Take it all one step at a time
I know I’m basically repeating myself here but it’s so important.
There is so much to learn with photography. It’s so easy to look at other people’s photographs and think you’ll never be able to take any as good as theirs.
Just remember that everyone was a beginner once. No one picks up a camera and takes an amazing shot, using manual settings, on their first try.
Take it all one step at a time. Practice each thing you learn until it becomes second nature.
And enjoy the process!