As a beginner, I convinced myself I needed to shoot in full manual, and my photos needed to look a particular way. I’ve been guilty of not following the advice below which stunted my growth as a photographer; I saw a tremendous improvement when I finally set aside my pride and followed these simple tips. Whether you are brand new to photography or looking for a refresher, this beginner’s guide to better photography provides tips and techniques that are sure to put you on the path to success.

1. Good Starter Cameras

photo of person holding camera

The best beginner photography camera is the one you already own. I used a point and shoot cameras for years before I bought my first DSLR, so don’t convince yourself an expensive camera will make you a better photographer. It won’t.

Point and shoot digital cameras are capable of more than we give them credit for and are a low-cost introduction to beginner photography. Learn basic photography skills on a phone or point and shoot camera and use them to their limits before upgrading to a DSLR.

The Best Beginner Photography Cameras

No animal will be too far for wildlife photographers shooting with the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS massive 960 mm zoom and 10fps.

Landscape and travel photographers will love the 18.5 mm lens on the Fujifilm XF10.

With an f/1.4 -2.8 aperture, the Panasonic Lumix LX10 is an impressive starter camera for macro photographers

If you don’t know what kind of photography you will love, try the Panasonic Lumix ZS70 which a perfect all-around camera.

2. Start With Simple Pictures

Photo composition is critical to good photography and learning how to frame your pictures takes practice. Start with a plain background and a single subject to learn the basics, such as focus and exposure, then sprinkle in more complexity as you grasp the basics of photography. Negative space is a lesser-known composition technique that is a perfect starting point for beginner photographers to build their photography skills and create beautiful images.

3. Take Your Camera Everywhere

Camera Bag

Carry your camera with and taking a lot of pictures is the best way to develop your photographer’s eye. Practice taking pictures and over time you’ll see what scenes will make great photographs and which scenes won’t. I use this adorable, nondescript camera bag that looks like an average purse to keep my equipment safe and organized when I’m on the go.

4. Learn Basic Composition Techniques

Photography is not an exact science and there isn’t a formula for applying composition techniques, but basic composition rules are great ideas for beginners to get started. Once you understand how to frame your images according to the rules, then you can break the rules.

5. Don’t Be Ashamed Of Auto Mode

Camera Settings

I’m sure you’ve heard that to improve your photos, you need to get out of auto mode; that is a harmful myth. Professional photographers understand all of their camera’s settings and how to adjust them to their needs, but if there is an auto mode that suits their needs, they will let the camera do the heavy lifting. Cameras do an excellent job determining ideal settings in most cases and is a great way for beginners to learn the basics. Rather than frantically trying to figure out manual settings at the moment and subsequently missing a shot, don’t be afraid to use auto mode. Later you can study the settings the camera picked and try to understand why those were optimal settings – eventually you’ll learn how to adjust the camera settings to better suit your needs.

6. Focus on Photography Techniques

The best way to learn photography is to be intentional; take pictures of the same subject from different angles or use different settings, then evaluate your photos in playback mode and make adjustments until you’ve reached the desired result. Don’t blindly shoot a hundred photos and hope that one of them comes out. The spray and pray method doesn’t challenge you to improve your skills, and poorly composed photos or inadequate settings don’t get better in higher quantities. There’s a big difference between taking a lot of photos with intentional changes and hoping for the best.

7. Zoom In On the Photos In Playback Mode

Review your images on your camera's LCD screen before finishing your shoot.

Speaking of reviewing your photos, zoom in on the focal point to check for the correct focus and lighting. The tiny screen LCD screens are deceptive, lack detail, and lead you to believe you have the perfect photo only to find the image has camera shake after viewing the image on a bigger screen. Magnifying the image in playback mode is a simple technique that provides more detail and all but guarantees you’ll walk away with quality photos.

8. It’s Ok To Edit Your Photos

If someone has told you real photographers don’t need to edit their photos, they don’t know what they are talking about. Every professional photo has been edited to some degree. Photoshop allows photographers to blend multiple photos and Lightroom enables photographers to edit in bulk. Don’t think for one minute we won’t take advantage of this. Photography is an art you can make it your own, it doesn’t matter how little or how much you edited your photos.

9. Look At Other People’s Photos

Photography Gallery

You gain inspiration from looking at other people’s work. When you feel uninspired, look at other people’s photos to spark new ideas; evaluate the composition, lighting, and other elements you like, and consider how to give the photo your own flair.

10. Learn Photography In Small Chunks

Mastering new skills in photography takes time and won’t happen overnight. One simple beginner photography tip is to break the components of photography down into manageable pieces and attempt to master a single aspect of photography at a time. Focus on photography essentials first, like the elements in the exposure triangle, master a specific style, or practice composition techniques. You’ll never finish learning photography; don’t rush the process and focus one element at a time.


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