If I think back on all the things I’ve done wrong in photography over the years, it’s actually sort of embarrassing.
Granted, I’ve messed up more times than I can remember, but there’s a few doozie mistakes I made along the way that have stuck with me.
I’ll spare you the stories about those problems…
Instead, I’d like to share a few things that all new photographers should learn, but that many seem not to.
Get Familiar With Your Camera Equipment
By “get familiar” I don’t mean casually flipping through your camera’s owner’s manual, either!
Yes – it’s not much fun to read all the fine print, but trust me when I say that it benefits you in the long run.
In fact, I’d recommend going through the owner’s manual and marking pages with “ah-ha” moments of instruction for quick reference later on.
Then I’d watch a whole bunch of YouTube videos of people walking through various features and functions of your camera (and your lens, tripod, filters, and so forth).
Once you know what each button and dial does, put that learning into practice by shooting in manual mode and manipulating things exposure settings to see how doing so changes the look and feel of your images. For example:
- Change the aperture to see how it changes the brightness (or darkness) of your image. Likewise, note how the changes in aperture change the depth of field in the image as well.
- Work on finding out the minimum shutter speed you can use and still get a sharp image while handholding the camera. The shutter speed will vary from one person to the next, so you’ll need to do some experimentation to find what your minimum shutter speed is.
- Use ISO to alter the exposure level of your images. By understanding how ISO works, you’ll be in a better position to get a well-exposed image, even if you’re shooting in dim lighting.
In other words, if you want to improve the quality of your photos and become a better photographer, that journey starts with actually understanding what your camera can do and how you can tell the camera to change what it’s doing to get a better shot.
Get a few more details on learning exposure settings in the video above by PhotoRec TV.
Find Your Own Voice
The great thing about photography is that even though there are certain ways to compose a photo or change the exposure levels for a more creative image, ultimately, what you do with your images is up to you.
That means that rather than just following what other people are doing or trying to copy the style or aesthetic of other photographers, you need to find your own voice and create images that are uniquely yours.
Does that mean you can’t source inspiration from others? Definitely not!
In fact, one of the best ways for you to improve your craft is to spend some time examining the photos that other people take.
Not only will this help you begin to identify what makes a good photo different from a bad one, but you’ll also find that you begin to identify what you like stylistically.
The important part is not to let things end there. Don’t just identify what you think looks great – learn how to implement those looks into your photos.
Again, this means doing some investigations about how to take and process photos. Read books. Check out post-processing tutorials. Watch YouTube videos like the one above by the Art of Photography.
The only way to improve your photos and make them look like the pros is to put in the necessary time and effort!
Be a Nice Photographer
Just because you have a camera in your hand doesn’t entitle you to do whatever you want.
I’m certainly not saying that that’s what all beginner photographers think, but I’ve encountered my fair share of photogs that have insisted on stopping traffic, impeding the privacy of other people, approaching wildlife too closely, and breaking the law to get the shot.
Don’t be one of those people.
Being disrespectful of the people and places you photograph doesn’t just reflect poorly on you, it reflects poorly on all photographers.
I know how exciting it can be to hunt the perfect photo, but is it really a perfect photo if you had to climb over a fence and step on a baby seal’s flipper to get that shot?
I don’t think so.
Besides, the more reckless you are, the more disrespectful you are of your surroundings, the more likely you are to get called out for it.
Photography is like a little community, and there is something to be said for having the support of your peers.
If you practice ethical photography and take a genuine interest in improving your craft, you’ll find that your fellow photographers are more than willing to help you become a better photographer!