This is a difficult topic to write on largely because it depends on how the new photographer plans to proceed with photography. For me – as I assume is the case with most people – photography began as a hobby and then later evolved into a career. In this article I will address the hobbyist photographer with the following pro advice for new photographers.
Photography as a Hobby
Photography as a hobby is the best option for anyone picking up a camera, in my personal opinion. You don’t have to worry about any of the business considerations and most of the legal and financial information you do need to learn is minimal at best. In the future I’ll be writing about photography as a career – stay tuned for that.
Knowledge and Practice
Knowledge and practice are the key factors in making good pictures, but you may not be good when you start – and that’s ok. I certainly wasn’t. It’s takes a lot of time and patience to learn about photography, and even has a hobbyist there is a lot to learn. Here are some organized steps to help guide you in this process:
Read Your Manual: This is incredibly helpful and is a surprisingly overlooked tool when learning about your camera. Yeah, manuals can be boring and cumbersome but just try to check out the getting started section to learn the basics.. how to attach your lens, what a certain button does, and how the different settings and modes effect your pictures. Dive deeper to learn about file formats like .jpg and RAW (NEF if you’re shooting Nikon), color spaces such as Adobe RBG and metering systems.
YouTube Channels: Subscribe to some YouTube channels for beginner photographers. I’m a very visual person, and when it comes time to learn something new I really appreciate having the ability to pause a video, rewind, and explore at my own pace. One of the best YouTube channels to check out is the photography channel DigitalRev TV, tagged as the world’s most viewed and subscribed photography channel. Another great channel is Phlearn LLC. It’s a free tutorial channel designed especially for new photography enthusiasts. He can be a little narcissistic for my tastes but.. that’s just the impression I get from him. There’s a lot of useful and easy to understand information and all in all it’s a good YouTube channel to check out for beginners.
Buy a Book: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum is Amazon.com’s #1 rated bestseller in books on digital photography. Selling at $11.57 at the time of this article it introduces step-by-step introduction to digital slr photography with themes that include color, composition, natural light, framing and more. There are hundreds of other books available for beginning photographers, and for a lot of people this is a great way to learn or supplement as an additional source to online tutorials.
Take an Online Course: PetaPixel, a salient online photography blog established in 2009, offers a variety of links to free online photography courses and tutorials for beginners. Check out the link here and see if you can’t find something for you!
Enroll in a Class: Try a simple Internet search for ‘photography classes in my area’ and see if you can’t enroll in a local university under the umbrella of continued education, or, find an independent photographer in the area who can help. Professional photography instructors will usually offer group courses for you to enroll in but will also normally offer a one-on-one course for a higher fee. You can also request to learn about a specific photography subject such as sports, astrophotography, landscapes and portraits.
Join a Photography Club: Online or in person there are endless ways to make new friends in the photo community. Flickr and 500px is an excellent, free online resource that is great for sharing images and joining groups. Google Plus and Facebook also offer similar versions to share your pictures and make friends. Also be sure to check your city and county for area photography clubs. Growing and learning from other like-minded people who are at the same skill level as you is a great way to start your journey into photography.
Look at Pictures: Pretty basic step, right? But it’s true. The best way to train your eye on light and composition is to look at photos. Lots of photos. Hundreds of thousands of photos. You have been doing this your whole life, but now you’re looking closer and examining them in a new light (pun intended). If you’re interested in photographing portraits, find a photographer who you think photographs portraits well and examine their work, buy their book and study what they do, what you like about it, and what makes it work. There are a lot of portrait photographers out there. Consider why you like him or her and then explore their style by creating your own images.
As stated there is so much to learn about photography, from the mechanics, to composition, to lighting, customer services skills, social media management, indexing, archiving and more. The list is practically endless, and – if you can believe it – there are even more considerations for a professional photographer; general liability insurance, studio management, and intellectual copyright – to name a few.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, here is a basic diagram for new photographers to consider:
As you can see, there are number of topics for new photographers to consider – but it is safe to say that the majority of them are fairly basic. The four largest topic branches are Knowledge, Purpose, Development, and Legal. Compare these considerations to those of a professional photographer, as shown here:
With introductory cameras at record low prices and countless free resources to learn photography it’s easy to see why so many people are jumping in. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, you make new friends and you get to capture your memories in new creative ways beyond what your cell phone can offer.
Be sure to check out some of the resources in this article, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them for me in the comments section below, or contact me on social media at @StephenMasker on Twitter or @MaskerPhoto on Instagram.