As I have started my mentoring program and working with new photographers, I find myself addressing some of the same topics with everyone so I decided to share my top tips here...
GEAR ISN’T EVERYTHING
Yes, professional camera bodies and lenses will produce better images quality but the gear isn’t everything. You may have already heard this time and time again but most seasoned photographers can produce great images on “crappy cameras” while most newbies would get the same overall quality of image with professional gear as they would with lower end gear. So much of photography is understanding the light source, composition, and the exposure triangle.
With that being said, you should still understand everything about your gear and read the manual. The manual is a great place to start in understanding how your camera works and how to adjust all the different settings.
GETTING IT RIGHT IN CAMERA
I hear people say, “I’ll fix that in post” all the time and often it is for things that we can easily take a moment to adjust some settings in camera to get it right and save ourselves time editing later. I myself have been guilt of this.
To help you get the image you want SOOC (straight out of camera) it is important shoot in manual mode, understand the exposure triangle, and custom white balance settings. The exposure triangle is made up of three settings – aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These settings work hand in hand together in developing your image. (If you would like a more in-depth post about the exposure triangle and getting better images SOOC, leave a comment below!) There are times that you still may not get it perfect in camera, so always be sure to shoot in RAW so that you can more easily adjust mistakes in post processing.
SEEK THE LIGHT
Sounds cheesy, I know but without light there wouldn’t be photography. But how do you master the light? I don’t think anyone has 100% “mastered” light but with a lot of practice you can become close.
To start mastering light, pay attention to all the different lighting situations you find yourself in throughout the day. See where the light is coming from and how it falls upon people and subjects and the shadows created. Practice photographing in all different lighting situations until you are comfortable with all different natural lighting situations. Then start to play around with creating your own light with external flashes and studio lighting.
Never stop seeking the light. I find myself stopping what I am doing often to study light in new ways.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
It’s pretty easy to just point at your subject and click the shutter but that will often leave you with some boring photos. Move around! Explore all the different angles. Don’t be afraid to lay on the floor or climb a tree (safely of course); get up close and stand far away; move your subject around…just play!
There are some “rules” that come into play with composition and although I think that it is important to understand the rules, I don’t think you always need to follow them. (I certainly don’t!)
POST PROCESS LIKE A BOSS
Scrolling though Facebook and Instagram I see several advertisements for Lightroom Presents and Photoshop Actions promising to make your photos look amazing but the truth is, if you don’t have a solid SOOC image to work with you will end up pretty disappointed in the results.
Learning how to edit your images by hand is the best way to make your image what you envisioned. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use presets but understanding the basics different common tools that are available to you first will help you better enhance your images.
FIND A MENTOR
Learning photography isn’t something that comes to you overnight. Parts of it can be pretty frustrating and sometimes make you want to through your camera in the lake. Know that you aren’t alone, someone else has been there too, I have been there!
When I was first starting to get more serious about photography, I wanted to do everything on my own and didn’t want help from anyone but would constantly get frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to do something or achieve a certain look I wanted. This caused me to hit a major rut and almost quite pursuing my passion for photography. Luckily, I found a couple online photography groups that really helped me grow and later found other photographers that I could relate with and get me back on a path to where I am now.
To me, these 6 areas are some of the most important things when starting on your photographic journey. I would love to help you grow more in your passion for photography. Please feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.