Tips for beginner photography

Newborn sister pose idea for beginner photographers

Thinking about getting into photography?

If you are looking into getting into photography, say no more, my friend. I’ve got 5 tips to help you out.

Before we begin, let me tell you how I got started in photography. 

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My Experience

HOW I GOT STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY

My start in photography started with videography.

“Whaaa?” You think. Yeah, I know.

Let me briefly explain.

From my “About Me” section, you already know that I started in videography by chance. For the sake of keeping this focused, I won’t go into more specific detail about that.

A camera for photography beginners

BUT, I will tell you that because of my love for the editing process of videography, I started looking into other photographers’ work. I figured the process had to be somewhat similar.

It’s ironic because I actually hated, HATED photography for most of my life. Hated taking photos, hated being in photos, just hated it.

I hated it because I never really liked any photos that were taken of me. 

Now, you could argue that it was me, the subject. BUT, having worked in photography now, I would vehemently argue with you that it really had a lot to do with the photographer not being that great.

Harsh, you think? Maybe.

I don’t mean it in a disrespectful way but in the world of photography, there are SO many photographers. If you search on social media, you’ll have a ton of photographers near you come up in your results list. So you can find a ton of photographers, but on the tier of decent to excellent, that top tier of the absolutely great photographers is extremely narrow and tiny in number.

In my search of photographers whose work I actually found great, I happened to stumble on this one photographer’s work that totally blew me away. 

As a lifestyle photographer, he had a range of photos in his social media portfolio that were amazing. And what I found mesmerizing besides his color grading and clearly exceptional editing skills, was his ability to make any person look fabulous.

And that’s when I knew… if I could learn to take photos like him, my entire perspective on photography would probably change.

And you know what?

It did.

So here’s my top 5 must-haves you need if you’re going to venture into this wonderful world of photography. A lot of these you will find to be in the “duh” factor, but trust me. Keep reading and I’ll have some truly beneficial tips in there.

Tip 1: Be Passionate about Photography

You absolutely MUST have passion for this art. 

And let there be no argument about it, photography is. An. Art.

Here is what I mean by “passion” though.

You have to love photography enough to know you’ll keep pursuing it no matter HOW MUCH of a FAILURE you feel you are when you’re starting out.

One of the biggest mistakes beginner photographers make is to compare themselves to other photographers. Other photographers with more experience, more time at honing their skills at composition, lighting and editing, and usually always a much bigger portfolio.

If anything, look at other photographers’ work to learn from them. Not to compare your level of skill to theirs. Doing that will get you nowhere but feeling like you’ve made a mistake and then poof! You’ve quit what you haven’t even started.

YOUR PASSION MUST HAVE DRIVE.

Your passion has to have drive.

It has to DRIVE you to pursue more in the world of photography. Pursue more in educating yourself on your camera settings and how to use them.

DRIVE you to invest your time in practicing composition, rule of thirds, and different lighting settings.

DRIVE you to research editing techniques and practicing those skills over and over again.

And DRIVE you to invest your finances in those areas that will best help you get your photography off the ground and moving from amateur to great.

And further, you have to know, before you start that your passion for photography is more than just something “fun” to do when you have time. When it comes to taking your photos further, just being one of a dozen is not good enough.

You have to be the cream of the crop. One of the best. And to get there, it will eventually take more financially.

The beauty about starting in photography is that does not have to be as expensive as other arts. It is what you make it though so just know every piece of equipment you purchase will need an upgrade the further along you grow.

Tip 2: Equipment to start with

CAMERA AND LENS

You have to have a camera.

Now, I use the Canon 5D Mark IV for both video and photography, but I have also become quite a fan of the Canon EOS R which is a mirrorless camera and great for the lower price.

You can read more about this on my personal recommendations blog as well. 

I mean, of course. How can you start photography if you don’t have something to take photos with?

With that being said, literally everyone in the WORLD has a camera now. Yep, you guessed it. On their phone!

Now, you say, how can one use their camera phone as a legit camera to take photos?

It is POSSIBLE to use your camera phone!

Trust me, it is absolutely doable and there are photographers who actually run their businesses all with a camera phone as their base. You just have to learn to work the camera aspect of it in the way you would a handheld camera, i.e. a DSLR or mirrorless camera. This usually requires downloading apps, but there are free options out there that I will delve into in the near future.

Check out Moment’s video that gives a great synopsis on this very subject with the iphone camera as the subject.

One important thing you will notice on that YouTube video (if you watched it), or if you haven’t (totally a-ok), is that there is actually a lens on the camera phone. When I first saw these lenses, I thought they were incredibly cute.

Prioritize Effective Gear

But cute equipment doesn’t have a place in our world unless it is effective.

More than cute though, they are way more affordable than your major glassware lens for a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

To find out more about various camera lenses, check out this article.

When you look at paying $100 versus $1600 for a camera lens, as a beginner, it’s almost no choice to choose that cheaper option.

This way, you can still practice photography seriously but a low cost and see if this is something you will pursue further and invest in long-term before you busting the piggy bank to blow almost 2k.

Remember, that’s just the COST OF THE LENS and when you include taxes and shipping and handling fees, you’re chunking a huge wad of cash for just a camera lens.

DLSR VERSUS MIRRORLESS CAMERAS

Now if camera phone and camera phone lens options are not it for you, then you definitely need to look into DSLR and mirrorless cameras. There will be future blogs to tackle different cameras in detail but for now I will suggest you look at these options as beginner cameras.

The goal is to stay within a budget that allows you room to invest more later, but as your practice with photography grows, you will like early more quickly to turn around and invest in better quality gear.

Now, I’m a Canon girl, so I unfortunately cannot give you much advice on Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, and other brands.

Not yet anyway.

But just know that no matter the brand, it’s about the user’s skills that make the difference when it comes to quality photos.

A great beginner camera is the Canon EOS R and you can read more about it in my recommend resources post.  

And a great lens is the Canon 50 mm, which you can also read a little more about.

Tip 3: Editing software

While there are various options out there available, I will focus on the editing software that I use and is the majority fan and user favorite.

And that is LIGHTROOM.

LIGHTROOM FOR EDITING

Lightroom is aahhhhh-mazing! I absolutely LOVE this editing software. It’s user friendly, easy to learn, and is reliable. Many photographers consider it the industry standard for photography editing.

Now, it is a subscription software, meaning you pay for it on a monthly or annual basis, but it’s very reasonably priced in my opinion. For a while now, it runs about $10 a month or #120 bucks for the year. My advice though is that whether you are using Skylum Luminar, Corel PaintShop Pro, or Lightroom, practice until you master it. Don’t hop around from software to software. You will find that photography editing software all consist of the same, if not similar, tools and once you master the tools itself, you will likely be able to use any software to edit your photos. It just boils down to preference.

Tip 4: Education and Research

Ahhh, this is my favorite one. All because I truly believe anyone can learn how to do great photography. I mean, if I could learn in just 4-6 weeks, anybody can do photography.

Here’s what I mean by you need to be educated and do your research. You need to educate yourself on ALL things photography. And honestly you can do this by just doing simple research online.

This is the way of the world now.

You don’t have to go spend four years in college to learn photography anymore. You can simply google or YouTube and find all types of legit advice and educational, real-life, hands-on material to do so. And, of course, there are other photography blogs such as this one  and articles that will give you plenty of helpful information and direction as well. 

Don’t be mistaken though. There are HUGE advantages to investing in a photography course online or working up under a mentor to learn the ropes, but it’s not 100% necessary. It really depends on you and your ability to sort out information and then apply it.

ONLINE COURSES FOR PHOTOGRAPHY

Do I recommend online courses to learn photography?

Yes. I absolutely do. I’m going to put the link for the course I invested in, on here and you can check it out but I will have my own version in the future. If you join my emailing list, you’ll be the first to know when that breaks ground.

For now I will list the most important topics – in no particular order – you should focus on for a beginner learning photography.

  1. Manual settings
  2. Composition
  3. What is ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed
  4. White balance
  5. What is bokeh
  6. How to do basic editing features in Lightroom

Tip 5: Practice, practice, practice!

And most importantly, get out there and practice.

For someone just starting in photography, maybe you’re trying to see if this is something more serious than just a hobby for you, my advice is to limit how much you spend on any equipment, software or online education courses.

Get the bare essentials that we already discussed and even just use a free app for editing photos first before biting the buck on Lightroom. Though, if you do it monthly, paying $10 bucks for one month and then stopping your subscription is relatively easy should you decide it’s not a serious field of art for you.

What happens to all of us is we get so focused on having everything BEFORE we get started, that we never get started in applying the basic concepts we have just learned.

You don’t need 5k to get started in photography. You can literally use what you have that everyone carries in their hand or back pocket or purse on a daily basis.

SO GET OUT THERE AND PRACTICE!

Watch a YouTube video, read another blog article on beginner photography, ask a photography friend for some tips and then get out there and shoot.

Download those photos off your phone or DSLR or mirrorless camera and edit them.

And then do this over and over until you’ve mastered a certain concept and move on to the next concept.

To summarize, these tips will help YOU get started in photography!

So for you photo enthusiasts looking into getting into photography, take these 5 tips and run with it!

I, myself, started just in August of 2021. And now, I don’t know why I didn’t get started earlier.

It’s more than a hobby. It’s a PASSION that has easily turned into a business for me, and an art form I am so proud to express myself in.

My beginning in photography has started a journey that I know will never end because this is an art form you will never learn absolutely everything in. And the beauty is, it brings VALUE to the world around us.

So I hope your interest in photography does not stop with just reading this blog, but pushes you to take the dive.

I’ll look forward to seeing you on the other side and DO connect with me if you find that anything in these blogs helps take you a step further in the photography world!

From one fellow photographer to another, cheers!

~Ruth Elaine

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