So, you're a new photographer and you're wondering just where to begin. Being new to photography can seem overwhelming with so much to learn and what seems like a whole new language (check out our jargon dictionary here). That's why I'm sharing my tips on what I wish I knew as a beginner photographer so that you don't have to make the same mistakes I did.
Don't Delay Learning Manual
When you get a new camera it can be really tempting to flick it on auto, getting caught up in the excitement of shooting and then never looking back. The problem with this is you may then never find the motivation to learn how to shoot on manual mode, which is important if you want to start taking professional standard photographs and have more control over your images. Just as you wouldn't let your GPS drive your car, don't let your camera make the important decisions for you, but use it as a tool to set yourself in the right direction. If you would like to start learning how to use your camera check out our free DSLR guide.
Get an Education
The best thing you can do for yourself is to invest in educating yourself. This doesn't mean you have to go back to school and get a photography degree (although, if you want to it's not a bad idea!) but really dive into books, podcasts, tutorials and workshops in order to truly get an understanding of photography and all of the theory behind it. Sure, photography is about creativity but there is also a lot of technical elements when it comes to lighting, gear, editing etc. As well as learning posing techniques, editing, colour theory, design elements and more.
Experiment with Different Styles
With so many genres and styles of photography, it's important to experiment in order to find what the best fit is for you. This may change several times, and that's okay!
Welcome Constructive Criticism
The easiest way to learn is to welcome constructive criticism from other photographers. This is a time to push aside your ego and sentimental feelings towards photos and truly listen to what other photographers have to say in order to grow and improve. When I was working towards my photography diploma every Friday was dedicated solely to criticising eachothers work for the entire day, and I learned more on those days than any other class.
Network, Network, Network
It's time to find your photography tribe. Whether it's online or in person (preferably both) it's vital to join a networking circle and group of fellow photographers that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of and make connections with.
Find a Mentor
Networking can also help you find a mentor that you can learn from. Finding a professional photographer that is willing to teach you the ins and out of photography and even their business is the quickest and most effective way of improving in all aspects.
Editing is Half the Battle
It doesn't matter if you are taking fantastic images if you fall flat when it comes to editing you are going to be doing your photos a massive injustice. It happens to every beginner photographer - the temptation of strong vignettes, colour popping or layer upon layer of Instagram filters just seems to be something we can't resist; but the quicker you learn that those are no-no's and learn professional editing the better - your images will thank you! This is the number way to go from looking like a complete amateur to looking professional. You can start by watching Photoshop and Lightroom YouTube tutorials for loads of free education. I highly recommend Phlearn.
You may be tempted to go out and buy the most expensive gear you can find in hopes that this will automatically make your pictures look professional and you won't have to put in any of the work. Sorry, there are no short cuts here! You can't skip education and unless you know fully how to use professional gear they won't make any difference to your images. However, when shopping for your first set up it's important to know that it's not necessarily the camera body that makes a big difference but actually the lenses. Investing in high-quality lenses will be one of the smartest decisions you can make.
Practice Truly Makes Perfect
Everyone's photos look a bit rubbish when they first start shooting, it's just the nature of photography and the learning curve. It's important to not get discouraged by all of the perfect photos other photographers are posting on social media, as they all had to begin somewhere as well - you just don't see it! The best way to improve is to start shooting like crazy in as many situations as possible.
There you have it, What I Wish I Knew as a Beginner Photographer. Have anything to add? We'd love to hear from you on