Beginning Photography Tips

These 10 beginning photography tips are for those who have bought their first camera and are just setting out - and what a great journey awaits you! There will be many more beginners photography tips as time goes on and I plan to make a separate section for them but in the meantime here is some basic advice for you to get started.


1. First of my beginning photography tips is to buy a good quality padded bag for your new camera so that it is always protected against bumps and mishaps - a good camera bag is not a luxury item, it's a necessity.

2. Always use the neck-strap to hang the camera around your neck or keep the wrist-strap on your wrist all the time you are taking pictures and even while you are just looking through the viewer. It's not that you might drop it, it's that one day you will drop it and if you are in the habit of always using a strap, it will be protected and your camera will always be safe.

photo of a poppy in macro mode by anne darling

Above: Poppy (Macro) by Anne Darling

3. Buy the biggest memory card possible, buy two if you have the cash and set the picture quality to the highest you can. Don't use the RAW setting for the time being though, get used to using the camera on a high TIFF or JPG setting as you can't up the quality after the shot is taken.

4. Most beginning photography tips overlook the importance of reading the camera manual. Only don't try to read the whole manual at once, you will forget most of it. Read the manual a little bit at a time - but do read it!. Whenever I buy a new camera, I spend about half an hour with the manual before going out. I try to find one new technique that sounds like it might be fun to use and then try it out that same day. Next time you go out with your camera, do the same, find one new technique to try out. If you just spend half an hour before you go out with your camera, each and every time, gradually you will get to know your camera very well, and finding the right settings will become intuitive.

5. Don't delete unwanted images on the camera. It's better to wait and look at them on your computer screen which is so much larger but also, as your skills grow, you will learn how to rescue certain images that you may have thought hadn't quite worked.

6. Make sure image stabilization is turned on, if your camera has it. This will help to ensure sharp pictures. You can also help to ensure they are sharp by holding the camera in both hands, with your feet firmly planted and your elbows tucked in close to your body. Some people like to hold their breath briefly just before and at the point of clicking the shutter. Concentrating your mind in this way helps to reduce camera shake.

7. Beginning photography tips wouldn't be complete without mentioning that great portrait shot you took only to find later that there is a tree or telegraph pole coming out of the top of their head. This is a common mistake with beginners so check out the background before you take the shot. Even if the background is thrown out of focus, a defocused pole sticking out of your best friend's head will still not look good!

8. Use the fill flash setting on your camera if you are out of doors on a bright sunny day and find that your subject's face is darkened by shadows. This will brighten their face and make them stand out from the background. You should find guidance on how to do this in the camera manual.

9. Press the shutter release button half way down until you feel resistance. Hold it there to lock the focus and then re-frame your picture while you do so. Then press the shutter release button the rest of the way down to finally make the shot. This will make sure your subject is in sharp focus but also gives you the opportunity to improve the composition by placing your subject off centre, a simple tip which can often bring greater life to your pictures.

10. Find out the exact range of the flash by reading the manual. It is usually only up to about 10 feet. Anything beyond that will be too dark. Ten feet is about four paces so it's fairly easy to estimate.

Recommended Reading

If you are looking for more beginning photography tips, I highly recommend BetterPhoto Basics by Jim Miotke which gets rave reviews and is suitable for absolute beginners.


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