An Amateur’s Guide to Photography
Photography is a fun hobby but many people are interested in also making it a fruitful career.
It captures your precious moments from weddings to graduation ceremonies so that memories remain forever.
However, photography is not as simple as it is thought to be.
Like every other profession, it needs lots of practice, experience, and skillset.
How to Become a Photographer?
If you aspire to become a photographer you will have to increase your skillset.
You may not need any formal education but any professional degree in photography will require you to at least complete your high school before enrolling.
But what’s more essential is creativity, skills, ability and a good eye.
What does a photographer do?
As a photographer, you will have to find a niche that is best for you.
Do you like capturing portraits? Are you crazy about landscape photography? Or maybe you like to show things aesthetically?
Finding what you love and what is your strong suit will lead you to decide on one niche to stay focused on.
You can juggle many things together to learn but it is hard to gain expertise in more than one.
A photographer’s work is very broad.
It can range from serious press and news photography to fun event coverage photography.
After learning the proper photography skills you can become:
- A portrait photographer to take aesthetic pictures of people
- A product/fashion photographer capturing images of products and items for businesses
- An event photographer that covers weddings, birthdays, parties and overall celebrations and business events
- A wildlife photographer that closely observes and captures photos of wildlife animals and sea life.
- A press photographer and journalist that covers news and happenings
- An art photographer that captures artistic and creative pictures of people, places and things
- A landscape photographer taking pictures of natural scenery and landscape
You can find work in news organizations and media organizations.
However, the best part of being a photographer is that you can also work independently.
Once you have a firm grip on your skills and you know how to excel at photography then you can proceed going solo.
The skills you may require are technical know-how of the workings of the camera, creativity, time management, good communication skills to grow your circle and patience…lots of it.
You do not necessarily need to have a higher education degree to pursue photography.
A better way is to take photography courses.
Some universities may also offer 1 to 3 months long photography courses but you can also take online courses.
These courses can give you a thorough idea of the technical skills you will require to operate your camera.
However, you can only learn good photography through experimenting, practicing and learning.
But at every new pursuit and journey, you will require some guidance.
An amateur photographer first needs to know the basics of good photography and common mistakes done by other aspiring photographers so that you can avoid them.
Hence, this ultimate guide covers the tips and strategies you will require to step your foot into photography.
Photography 101 for Amateurs
As a newbie in this field, you may think that you know enough to start.
However, professional photographers always have a few tips and tricks that make a huge difference.
If you follow these tips, you will not make common mistakes like other amateur photographers and make your pictures look extremely professional.
Good lighting is essential
One of the most crucial components of good photography is lighting.
Your pictures’ life is in the lighting.
You need a balanced light source for the best photos.
The best source can be natural light but if you are indoors then you can also try using an external light.
Avoid using the flash unless necessary because it can also overexpose the photos.
Less lighting will make your picture dark and a stronger light will make it overexposed.
The camera has a sensor that is exposed to light when the shutter is clicked.
In the case of less light, the picture is underexposed and in the case of more, it is overexposed.
You can set this exposure manually in the camera.
Increase the exposure for dark areas and decrease it for lighter ones.
If that isn’t possible then you can always adjust it later during editing to give some depth to your photos through lighting.
However, the best lighting is found in nature and that too two times a day.
The golden hour is usually around sunrise and sunset emitting natural yellow, orange sunlight.
Such lighting makes your subject glow without any over or underexposure.
Every picture follows a rule
This rule is known as the rule of thirds.
Basically, the grid on the camera will show nine sections. That means the picture is divided into thirds.
Each section is a one-third portion of the entire frame.
The right, middle and left. Pictures that are photographed with keeping objects on a third are more aesthetically pleasing than those who place the object in the middle.
This rule is used to make subjects stand out in a significant background.
Not all photographers may use rule of thirds all the time but you cannot deny that it makes pictures more interesting.
The dominant foreground and the contributing background make a visually aligned stark photo and the viewer’s eyes are directed right to where the photographer intends it should go.
As an amateur photographer, if you master lighting and rule of thirds, you should consider that half of your job is done.
Buying gear vs learning
The fancy gear of professionals is very attractive.
But they are not good photographers due to their gear but due to their skills.
Only after mastering their skills, they bought fancy gear to upgrade themselves.
A few people will also advise you to have good gear but all that is useless if you do not understand photography that well.
As a new photographer, you need a good DSLR or a mirrorless camera that fits your need, a tripod or monopod, and maybe another portrait lens (if required for close-ups and portraits).
Initially, your camera will be enough to understand photography but for stability, you will require a tripod.
Hence, you do not need to spend a lot on the gear in the beginning.
Stay within your budget and start from scratch.
The more gear you buy, the more you will be confused if you are totally new, so take it one at a time.
If you save from spending on gear, try investing in getting some photography books, enrolling in courses or watching Youtube videos of professionals.
Invest in learning and expanding your knowledge about the camera and photography angles rather than only relying on expensive gear to save your day.
Try different angles
Flexibility and adaptability are required for every work and skillset.
You are not limited to one angle and position if you have mastered that.
You can always experiment and progress to a different kind of photography.
Shooting with different angles and positions will highlight the strengths of some angles and weaknesses of others.
This way if you are put in a situation when you have no choice but to change your position and angle, you will already be aware of what works and what does not.
Moreover, some amateurs do the mistake of holding the camera far, stretching the arms.
You should hold your camera close to your body that will give you a good grip and stabilize your posture so that the picture sharpness is not decreased.
Always experiment and keep progressing because some angles and positions may give even better results than what you are used to getting.
Learn some editing software for making a polished product
You may have this misconception that what is shot by your camera is your final product.
No! As much as you need planning and shooting, you also need post-processing.
Editing covers up a lot that shooting misses.
While your aim should be to get the best shot, editing can enhance your photo to make it look professional.
You are not cheating your audience by enhancing your photos, in fact editing helps to learn more about lighting, colors and contrast.
One software used across this industry is Adobe Lightroom which is also available as a free mobile app.
Lightroom is very easy to use for beginners, you can adjust the colors, saturation and white balance of the photos. It helps in basic editing.
However, if you are doing professional-level editing, you may require to use Adobe Photoshop instead.
So, do not skip editing as it is being used across the industry to make more polished photos and will give your photos the enhancement that the camera can’t capture.
Never delete photos in your camera
You should have backups for your work.
In the digital world, you can lose all your material to a virus.
Therefore, always store your work in a drive and alongside your computer and do not delete it from your memory card until you are done with the project.
But one other reason to not delete photos from the camera is that they could look entirely different on a bigger laptop screen.
You may find that a picture is out of focus in the camera but when you see it on the laptop, it will be just right.
So do not hurry in deleting photos from your camera while you are shooting. Wait to see how it looks on a bigger screen and then decide if you will use it or not.
Photography is an art that needs skills, creativity, talents and a passion to learn and experiment.
As an amateur photographer, start taking pictures of your friends and family, nature and things around you.
Once you develop your skills and network, you will have opportunities to earn a living through this fruitful profession.