The first thing to mention here is that in order to start taking professional photos YOU need to be in control, and not the camera. This means mastering manual mode! Don't run away yet, I know that switching from auto mode to manual can be intimidating, but the hardest part is starting. If you force yourself to only shoot on manual you'll learn as you go and soon it will be like being fluent in another language and through that comes so much more creative freedom and a sense of empowerment. The best thing you can do is experiment and spend a lot of time shooting everything and anything. Will there be rubbish shots? Absolutely, but it's all about the learning curve. If you need help shooting on manual mode check out our FREE Beginners Guide. Now, into our tips to get you started.
1. Shoot in Natural LightUnless you are a master at flash photography or only interested in studio photography this obviously won't apply to you, but shooting in the right natural light is the easiest step to taking professional looking photographs. Avoiding overhead, fluorescent and incandescent lighting (basically any lamps, indoor lights etc) will help you banish ugly shadows and colouring. By shooting in soft natural light you will get bright, evenly lit photos without any nasty shadows. Overcast or morning and evening light works best! If you are indoors move close to windows for as much natural light as possible and NEVER mix lighting temperatures, so turn off all of the other lighting in your home.
2. Declutter your BackgroundThe easiest way to look like an amateur is to neglect your background. It's important that you not only focus on the subject but what is around them as well. Make sure there is no clutter, distracting items or background elements that are interfering with your subject. No one wants to see a tree growing out the back of someone's head or a rubbish bin in the distance. Having a busy background causes people's eyes to jump around a photo instead of focusing on what is important.
Notice how in this image because there are no distracting elements in the background all you can focus on is the connection between mother and daughter.
3. Follow the Rule of ThirdsHaving a strong understanding of the basic compositional elements is a huge must. The most obvious one is understanding the rule of thirds. Now some people may do this naturally without even realising, but the rule of thirds is all about your framing and the balance of an image.
By dividing your image vertically and horizontally into thirds to create 9 squares, you can see that this creates 4 key anchor points highlighted by the circles. By placing your subject or the focus of the image on one of these anchor points you're already well on your way to creating a strong image. When you go to crop something in Photoshop or Lightroom you will see that it actually brings up a grid that looks like the rule of thirds to help you out.
You can see here that if you place the grid on this image that the subject falls on both of the left hand side anchor points.
4. Learn Basic EditingIt's also important that you also have a basic understanding of editing. Honestly, rarely these days is it that you get a perfect image straight our of camera, especially as a beginner. Most of the popular or viral images you see have been extensively edited. People may see this as "cheating" or "unnatural" but the truth is photography has always been altered, even in the film days our images were manipulated in the dark room through dodging and burning. Don't think of it as cheating but more of a useful tool to help elevate your work. Start by learning how to change your exposure, fix colouring, and adjust your contrast. A great way to teach yourself is through Youtube tutorials. We highly recommend PHlearn.
The biggest mistake you can make as a beginner is to think that you don't need to be shooting in RAW. RAW is a large file format you can program your camera to shoot in through the menu settings. Yes, JPEGs save space because they are smaller, but they are just that. Having a smaller file format gives you less information to work with and shortens your leeway for mistakes. As a beginner you are bound to over or under expose your images and by shooting in RAW you are better able to save these images.
5. Shoot in RAW
There you have it, our 5 Tips for Professional Looking Photographs for Beginners. Have anything to add? Questions?We'd love to hear from you on