HOW TO GET STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY
So you wanna start taking photos?
You have an interesting perspective of the world + photography would be the perfect way to capture it.
You know that you’d be good at it, but it feels like you’re already too far behind.
Camera’s keep changing. Techniques keep changing. Everyone a photographer. The best people have been doing it for years. The list of doubts is endless.
It’s easy to feel like you don’t have the time or the discipline to truly commit to photography.
But the truth is;
"Anyone can be a photographer"
Getting started with photography can seem tough, but when you break it down into the steps required to make it happen -- it can actually be quite simple.
Thankfully, I’ve outlined what steps you need to get started.
Just take a look at my outline -- it really isn’t that bad.
That’s not to say that photography doesn’t require discipline + continued learning, because it does.
Still, all it really takes is for you to:
1. BUY A CAMERA AND LENS
CHOOSING A CAMERA
Your camera is going to be one of your most important photography tools.
Like a chef and his knives or a carpenter + her power tools, the execution of your photography will depend on the feel + quality of your camera.
Start by researching different camera on the internet.
Techradar is a good website to read tested reviews about different camera types.
Right now, the people seem to put Nikon + Canon at the top of the camera world, but there are also other great brands such as Sony, Fujifilm or Panasonic.
Focus your research on the different brands, types, models, sizes + prices.
Next, go to a camera retailer -- such as Best Buy -- and try out some of the cameras that you’ve researched online.
Hold them in your hand, test how they feel, think about the weight + explore the usability, one of the main reasons I chose Canon was because it was much easier for me to understand as a beginner.
You will inevitably use different cameras throughout your photography career, but for your first camera focus on feel, budget + model.
One thing that I stress is don't worry about spending a ton of money on your first camera at first.
Get something affordable that you can practice with.
It's much more important that you learn the settings. Learn how changing your shutter speed or ISO effects an image.
Once you've mastered that then you can look into getting a more expensive camera.
CHOOSING A LENS
The lens that will best suit you will largely be related to the subjects that you choose to shoot.
Some lenses are better for shooting at a distance, while other lenses are better at capturing light or movement.
I won’t get into lenses too much here because it can be a complex topic.
For now, start with the kit lens that will come with your camera (if the camera that you want doesn’t come in a kit with a lens included, then choose a basic zoom lens for now, 18mm- 55mm on most DSLRs).
If you’re already past the point of kit lenses + want to get more into choosing the right kind of lens, then check out my guide on choosing the right lens for your subject.
Read my article on How to Choose the Perfect Camera + Lens
CHOOSING CAMERA ACCESSORIES
You’ll eventually need camera accessories to make life easier as your shoot.
There are so many on the market that you could end up blowing a lot of money before finding out which ones truly make life easier.
To start out with, I think the following 5 accessories are a must have:
These 5 accessories will protect your camera investment + will make it easier to shoot photography.
Ultimately, the camera, lens + accessories that you choose will depend on your budget, technical preference, + preferred subject.
Either way, make sure that you do your research. These will be your most important assets for the rest of your time as a photographer.
2. CHOOSE A SUBJECT
Photographers shoot either objects (this includes people), scenary or some combination of both.
It’s also important to consider the industry + audience that you’re shooting for (which very much determines how you can get paid).
Here’s a list of photography subjects, it’s a good place to start
I recommend experimenting with different subjects.
I also recommend starting with subjects that naturally interest you. If you enjoy traveling or food, then begin with those.
It may take some exploration before you choose your focus -- or you may enjoy being a generalist.
Consider that if you eventually want to get paid for your photography, it will largely depend on who’s paying for that footage.
Be mindful of the market + what's going on.
The rise of eCommerce will see an increase in demand for product photography, meanwhile sports photography industry will probably always be hard to get into.
Read my post on How to Choose the Perfect Photography Subject
3. PRACTICE SHOOTING
If you’re new to the photography thing like I was, there’s gonna be a lot of concepts you’re gonna have to learn.
It’s gonna be frustrating, confusing and discouraging sometimes, but the beauty in finally figuring it out + capturing the images you want make it all worth it.
MASTER YOUR CAMERA
The first thing you’re gonna have to do is actually figure out how to work your camera.
Each camera is different, so figure out what each button does.
Figure out how to change the burst speed, adjust your white balance, + read your histogram.
I hate to sound cliche here but “become one with your camera” is the best way I can describe this process.
Read the user manual.
Read camera blogs
Watch Youtube videos
You need to understand what each function of your camera is responsible for, even if you never plan to use it!
TAKE A COURSE
There are tons of photography classes on Groupon, some of them for less than $20.
Photography classes offered a structured way of learning about your camera + photography in a larger scope.
They also offer secret techniques that may only be available through that particular photography teacher.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
There isn’t really much to say about this except to go out + shoot as much as you can. Take your camera everywhere with you (within reason). Remember that:
“All photographers start out as amateurs!”
Read my article on How to Master Your Photography Skills
4. LEARN HOW TO EDIT
Post production plays a major part of the photography process.
Whether it’s retouching a photo, color correcting an image, removing an object from your photo or more, it’s important that you not only have the proper tools when it’s time for you to use them + but the knowledge to use them properly.
GET YOURSELF A GOOD COMPUTER
You don’t need to have the same computer they used in Star Trek, but you’re gonna need something decent.
When selecting your computer, somethings you’re gonna want to keep a look out for are:
OS (Mac v. PC)
RAM (at least 8GB)
Hard Drive Space (at least 500GB)
Camera files can be massive; these feature are key to how your computer can process this information.
You’re gonna need something with high numbers in all these categories or else you risk your computer freezing or your software crashing.
There are other features your computer could include and honestly it just depends on what you personally need.
Some people want lot of USB slot options, some are content with just two, whatever floats your boat.
BUY A DECENT EDITING SOFTWARE
There are a few photo editing softwares available on the market. To be quite honest though, I work solely with Adobe Creative Suite.
There’s no real reason why other than when I was in college, I got a free copy of Adobe as a student so I kinda just been riding out with them since.
I’m sure there are other great options out there but since I haven’t used any of them I won’t speak too much on them.
I will list them below though, just in case you wanted to explore what was out there.
LEARN EDITING TECHNIQUES
Every photographers’ secret sauce.
How you choose to edit your photo depends on what you like. I’m not one to try to guide anyone’s artistic expression.
Edit your photo as you please.
When I was getting started, I googled things like “how to edit my photos” to find youtube videos, blogs or whatever else I could find that would teach me something new.
5. PUBLISH YOUR PHOTOS
The most obvious option is to post your photography to social media channels.
I recommend using them all, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ -- whatever is free and has an audience.
Social media is a great way to build an audience and receive feedback.
As you publish more of your photography and become a better artist, your audience will grow and also your opportunities to monetize that audience.
OPEN SOURCE PHOTOGRAPHY SITE
As you grow into your photography you should take a look at open source photography website.
These are platforms that allow other users to download and share your photography for personal or business reasons (you can set limitations to how you want your photography used). A good one is Flickr.
BUILD YOUR OWN WEBSITE
Publishing your work on other platforms is a great way to gain exposure, but eventually you want to own your assets.
Building a personal website is a great way to control how your photography is presented + monetize your work.
You can use your website to build your audience that will be dedicated to your brand + your work (not just the social media channels that host your work).
I personally use Squarespace to manage my website, but WordPress + Wix are great platforms as well. The key to a good website is a beautiful design, mobile friendliness, fast speed, + frequently updated content.
There are tons of guides on the internet on how to build a website or blog.
Read my article on How to Promote Your Photography + Increase Your Following
GET STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY TODAY!
Getting started in photography can seem like a rough ride.
Fortunately, our guide shows you how easy it is to really get started. But reading only gets you so far; you need to be out in the field shooting, finding out what you like, + how to replicate it as much as possible.
Every photographer started out where you are: using the Auto setting and taking pictures of their cats.
Will you become the next Ansel Adams? Who knows.
Only you can make that happen through your dedication to growing a potential business + your love for the art.