When you start out with photography, the big, complicated DLSR and the big zoom lens can become a bit intimidating. On the other hand, some people can be a bit over confident and don’t take the time to thoroughly learn about the fascinating subject of photography. Any good photographer needs to start somewhere, and the following tips are a handy guide to help you learn how to work magic with that digital machine in your hands.
Get the right camera
If you haven’t invested in a camera yet, be sure to find the right one for a beginner. DSLRs can be quite expensive and beginners should not invest in something too over-the-top, at least at first. Since you are only learning the basics, and can eventually upgrade, for now you only need the basic capabilities. Be sure your camera has a fully manual mode as it is a great place to strive for a beginner, though you’ll likely start out learning about Aperture or Shutter Speed modes. Look for a comfortable and functional design, and also go for a reputable brand so you know the equipment is well proven even if you’re a bit rough around the edges.
Read the manual
Reading the manual is very important, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Even if you know all about photography, your camera is still new to you, and you need to get to know all the ins and outs, figure out where all the functions are, how things work, how lenses are changed and batteries are popped out, where the external flash unit goes, how a tripod is attached, and all that jazz. Once you know all this, you can venture into the practical part more confidently. Many photographers go one-by-one through every function listed in the manual, while others find it handy to keep the manual close by.
Now it’s time to handle your new toy, get acquainted, and start shooting. In the beginning, its best to just shoot everything and anything you see around you. Try different angles and find interest in the mundane — you know, everyday scenes and objects. You will be able to see how your camera works, what the results are, and most importantly start learning how to make it better.
Don’t be afraid to mess up
This is very important; fear is the death of creativity, and must be shunned. Know this, you WILL make mistakes. As a beginner after all you learn by making mistakes, picking up on them and them trying to fix them. Your exposures won’t be perfect at first and your compositions might be off, but unless you actually shoot, you won’t have anything to judge yourself by.
Learn some editing skills
Photo editing software go hand in hand with digital photography. In the last century, you worked in a darkroom to develop your film, which was messy but certainly half the overall creative process. In the digital era, you apply the same kind of finishing and finesse and slight tweaking through the use of “Digital Darkroom” tools. Image editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom, and of course plug-ins to those programs that make them easier to use and extend their capabilities, are examples of tools many photographers use nowadays. It is a good idea to get started on simple to use yet professional editing software when you first begin. Apps like those from Macphun for the Mac help you tweak your photos and also explore your creativity with hundreds of “one-click” filters, effects and editing controls from which to choose.
We can’t stress enough that you need to explore when you first begin, as this is half the fun and helps you learn a lot. With digital photography, there is no reason to be afraid, as you can shoot as much as you want and not worry about wasting film. However, don’t take shots for granted and shoot smart. Soon your images will be rivaling those of the greats!