Learning Photography – A Beginners Guide to Taking Your Best Shot!

Two women wearing hijabs taking a picture of each other on a grass-covered hill overlooking a dairy farm.

If you’re like me, you probably blame your camera for not snapping the perfect shot on more than one occasion. You are excited when capturing those interesting or memorable moments. Still, you feel anxious afterward, not knowing how they will look until you upload them on your computer or the internet.

And so, why not start from the beginning and learn about photography?

This guide will help you get on the right track to beautiful pictures. Besides gaining confidence and enjoying taking photos, you’ll reap the rewards of a more satisfying hobby or the beginning of a photography career. So, let’s get started.

What is Photography?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, photography is “the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor).”

To most of us, photography is a hobby that we enjoy; in general, it combines art and creativity. It’s a way to capture moments in our life or events we can keep and share with others.

Everyone snaps pictures these days, even kids. But it’s also one of the most challenging hobbies to master. It takes patience, practice, and dedication to create a beautiful, clear, creative composition that captures the moment. Don’t worry! We have some easy tips to help you get started.

Why Learn Photography?

To produce creative, memorable, exciting, and noticeable photographs, you must familiarize yourself with light, exposure, composition, color, tone, and timing. You must also be familiar with your camera.

Some of the benefits of learning photography are:

  1. Consistently take interesting and unique shots
  2. Produce quality pictures that preserve meaningful and memorable events
  3. Understand different light conditions and creative approaches to compose pictures from better angles and more effective poses.
  4. Improve technical skills and creativity

Taking pictures through trial and error takes too long. While you are fussing around to get a great shot, you might lose an opportunity of a lifetime to capture that memorable moment. Grasp the basics first. You will understand how to take better pictures and avoid blurry images in just a few days.

Photography Basics

Before taking photos, be mindful of the basics.

  • First, ensure your camera has a charged battery (or enough battery power if using a DSLR).
  • Secondly, the lens must be clean, and there are no obstructions in the way of the lens, like your fingers.
  • Thirdly, purchase or borrow a good quality LED light if you take pictures indoors without natural light. The LED light will provide sufficient lighting for your photography and eliminate unwanted glare on any reflective surfaces.
  • Next, figure out what photo you want to take—a landscape or portrait shot? If you’re unsure, take two kinds of images with many different styles to choose from when editing.
  • Finally, set up your environment by deciding where to place your camera and pose yourself or the subject if necessary. Think about natural lighting if not outdoors.

Getting to know your camera

To start with, you will have to get familiar with your camera. If the camera is in a default setting, you should review how all buttons function. You need to know two crucial things about your camera: the shutter speed and aperture. It doesn’t matter if you have a DSLR or just a point-and-shoot. These two elements play an important role in how your photo turns out.

You can learn more about these in this guide or on Google; for now, let’s focus on how to take a great picture.

The Scene: Finding the proper lighting and composition

Lighting is one of the most important things to remember when shooting a picture. You must consider what you’ll capture and how it will look. Take the light, composition, and backdrop when deciding on your particular shot.

The Subject: Finding the right pose and expression

The subject is one of the most important aspects of photography. Choosing the right topic will prevent any mishaps from cropping up. You want to use a matter that is not too distracting or off-putting. Keep in mind how your subject looks on camera. Use flattering lighting and a pose. Most importantly, you need to be able to capture their expression. It would be a shame to miss capturing those emotional moments because you were too busy trying to snap that perfect shot!

The Finish: Taking the Shot!

Now that you know many basics, it’s time to take pictures. You may not capture the perfect photo on your first try, but don’t give up. It takes practice, and with the tips from this guide, you’ll be taking great shots in no time!

Bonus: Post-Processing for Perfect Shots

I’ve got a bonus for you: post-processing. What is it? Post-processing is when you edit your photos or shots to make them look better. It’s not always necessary, but it does have its advantages. When I started taking pictures, I didn’t know about post-processing and shooting in RAW mode. And my only editing tool was an app called QuickPic (which I still use). But then I realized there were many more tools to help me edit and make my pictures look their best.

So, if you want to take your photos up a notch, why not start editing them? Many different apps can do this for you and won’t cost you anything. These apps are free and usually come with a few filters like Instagram or Camera360, which offer free versions of their apps! These are great ways to take the perfect shot…and the right way to edit your photo!

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics of photography, it is time to get out there and take your best shot. The only way to learn photography is to take your camera on all of your adventures and start taking photos. You’ll need to keep practicing getting the perfect picture, but once you do, you’ll have the memories of your perfect moments captured forever.

 

 

Photography Tips For Beginners

When it comes to “photography tips for beginners” there are a variety of tips and articles from the internet. After sifting through many sites and hours or research, I chose the most valuable and sensible beginning photography tips and compiled them here for you.

How to Use Your Camera Settings

camera settings
camera settings

Read the manual, push every button, play with it but know your camera. This is the number one tip. Knowing how each setting on your camera affects your photograph is essential to taking great pictures. This is a two step process.

1) Read the manual. I know you hate to read a manual but it is the only way to really know what your camera is capable of.

2) Take pictures using each setting. It is best to use the same subject for comparison and have a notebook handy to write down the picture number and the setting. Then when you upload then to your computer you will have a very good idea of how your camera settings work.

Even so called “simple” compact cameras are loaded with features and settings. By understanding each camera setting you will take better pictures because you will know how to set up your camera for a variety of conditions.

For a more complete description of camera settings go our article “Camera Settings for Beginning Photographers”.

The best camera for you depends upon the kind of pictures you want to take 

You need to decide what kind of pictures you really want to take. Do you like panoramic cityscapes or mountain ranges? do you like taking portrait pictures? Do you want to just have a pocket-sized camera handy just for taking record shots of your most recent trip?

Cell phones don’t take panoramic scenes and you do not need an expensive camera for some quick snapshots shots either. Some people can’t be bothered with setting up a camera with this aperture setting and that shutter speed. That just want to take a picture and have it come out right. Other people want to be able to see the hair on a bug’s butt and create a photo that is crystal clear. Different needs mean different cameras. Check out our “Compare Digital Cameras” page.

Photography Composition – make your picture a work of art

photography composition
photography composition

Learn the basics of how to arrange your picture. Putting your subject in the center does not necessarily make the best picture. There is something in photography called the “rule of thirds” which means that you divide your picture into thirds (vertically or horizontally). Think of a tic-tac-toe grid. Some cameras enable you to turn the grid on and off to help you compose your shot.

Composition Tips:

  • Shoot your subject a little off center out of the bulls-eye.
  • Use a plain background for medium and close up shoots.
  • Avoid unnecessary objects intruding in the picture.  When someone or something intrudes into the shot they call it “photo-bombing” and is the antithesis of a good portrait.

Photography Lighting Tips

Photography  literally means “drawing with light.” Knowing where the light is, what kind of light it is and how the light affects your subject is one of the fundamentals of great photography. Something as simple as turning 90 degrees from the light source you can have a dramatic effect on your picture.  Most digital SLR cameras have settings to compensate for different types of light such as bright sunlight, soft light and fluorescent light.

photography lighting tips
photography lighting tips

 Flash Photography

Part of understanding light is learning how and when to use a flash. The flash is meant to illuminate a dark surface. This may be used in a general low light setting but it is also used as “fill flash” to fill in the shadows on a bright sunny day.  For example, if you are taking someones picture on a bright sunny day with the sun high in the sky and your subject’s back is toward the sun, their face will be in shadow. If you snap the picture everything around them and behind them will be perfectly exposed but the face will be in shadow. By setting your flash to “ON” it will automatically fire when you take the picture and remove the shadow. So flash is used in both bright and low light conditions.

This is a good source for further study.

 Learn through Experimentation

Probably the biggest advantage of digital photography is that you can take a thousand pictures at no cost (sorry Kodak) so snap away and compare different, settings, lighting, angles and anything else you can try. Use a notebook to test various settings on a single subject while recording each setting and photograph number. This way you can compare and learn what each setting does and how it affects your final result. If you do not write them down you will definitely forget how you set your camera up.

This is a good time to set up “bracketing” in your camera. Bracketing is where you (or your camera) will take a series, usually, 3 shots at 3 different speeds or aperture settings to get the perfect shot. It is the same reason professional photographers take hundreds of shoots of the same model and pose, so they can be sure that they have at least one great shot.

Use a Camera Tripod

A tripod will help you get clear sharp photos while giving you time to compose your shots.

Camera Tripod
Camera Tripod Keeps Your Camera Steady and Your Photographs Sharp

Anytime you are using macro for extreme closeups or you are taking low light pictures without flash you definitely need a tripod to keep the camera from shaking.Learn to use the self-timer to click the shutter for these kinds of shots because your finger can shake the camera even on a tripod.

Keep Your Camera With You.   

keep your camera with you
keep your camera, cant miss moment like this

It is better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. You might just get that once in a lifetime shot if you just have your camera with you, besides, practice makes perfect. Need any more clichés?

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