How to get started in Photography in 4 Steps
It’s been a little over a year ago now when I started my online photography courses as part of my graphic design degree, and I feel that I’ve come a long way so far. One of the biggest takeaways that I’ve learned so far is about getting started in photography.
Years ago, getting started in photography may have been a big deal, as we didn’t always have smartphones with built in cameras. You either had to rely on those disposable cameras from Polaroid from Walmart or own one of the higher name brand cameras, from Kodak or Fujifilm and rely on their intuitive snap-and-shoot features. This is what I did, as I knew absolutely nothing about lighting, aperture or shutter speed.
But in today’s world of smartphones, built in cameras, affordable dslr cameras that you can either buy or rent and of course, the internet and social media, getting started in photography couldn’t be more accessible than it is now.
Finding a Camera
Well, you can’t really start taking photos without a device. There are many great models out there from DSLR’s to mirrorless from some great names such as Nikon and Canon. But chances are, you own a smartphone and use it every day to upload your selfies, vacation pics, or other images to Facebook or Instagram.
These smartphones phones are an affordable solution for those of us who can’t really afford to invest several hundred dollars on a new camera – especially when you’re new to the field and don’t really know if it will be worth the investment in the long run. And the technology with some built in features are getting better and better than they have in the past.
Even if you were considering going the way of purchasing a new camera, there are some affordable, entry level cameras that cater towards the newbies interested in getting started, that you can find used, or refurbished and good prices.
The second step would be to actually get out there and start shooting. Randomly looking for subjects would be one way for getting your feet wet. You can try this for starters, or perhaps narrow down to a particular subject and hone your skills in that area, like taking still life photos, or capturing landscape shots and sunrise or sunsets.
Sure, they may not turn out as you expect at first. I know one weakness of mine right now is portrait photography, as I feel that I need to hone my skills concerning proper lighting, framing of the subjects in the image, and other issues that I’ve encountered. But the way I see it, the only way for me to get better is to either search online for some tutorials, take up some courses, or simply getting advice from others with more experience.
There’s also a good amount of stock photo websites and photography forums that can help me find the right creative inspiration from others out there who’ve taken many images and posted them online.
After you’ve taken your first collection of images and ready to either add them to your portfolio, website, or post online, you might notice that there may be something off – such as an image being out of focus, or perhaps it’s too dark and needs to be tweaked by raising the levels, exposure, or brightness. Or perhaps you want to sharpen it or add an effect to make it really stand out.
I discovered that this is actually normal. Everyone, including professional photographers, applies some form of post editing to their images before posting. Nowadays, there’s plenty of software out there, for either Windows or Mac, available for his, such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. As effective as some of these tools are, they are also a bit costly, with a steep learning curve. But fortunately, there are some good free alternatives that offer most of the same features.
Even on your smartphones, there’s also many great apps that you can download from Google Play or the App store for some quick post editing as well.
Improving your skills
I think the most effective way to get better at any skill is through practice, and it can’t be more beneficial than in photography. In fact, I’ve learned that the best way photographers hone their skills sets is by taking many images, whether they’re good or bad. I’ve read somewhere that a photographer may take up to several hundred images and maybe a handful of them are worth keeping and editing. But the key is to keep shooting – even through the bad ones that are either underexposed, off balanced, or who knows what else it could be.
Sure, some of us can probably afford to take a few lessons on the side, through online courses, books and resources, or even a good mentor or other photographers through meetups. Maybe you could also take a look at their unique styles and find your own style to develop.
What do you guys think about these steps? I am interested in hearing your thoughts.
Thank you for the awesome post! I was glad to see that you think it is okay to use a smart phone! I like that because that is what I use!
Thanks Jessie! I glad you found it helpful.
Thanks for providing these four steps to get started in photography. I’ve often thought about getting into photography as a hobby. I have many friends that do photography as a side job and I admire their work. There’s so much to it though….like lighting and angles. Do you advise taking a class? I’ve thought about that as well to at least learn the basics.
I would try YouTube first before investing in a class. There’s plenty of beginner videos out there for both smartphones and DSLR cameras if you just getting started. But if you’re really serious about it, then I would try some online classes like Udemy or Skillshare, which offer a wealth of training videos for as low as $10/month.
I hope this helps!
Smartphones have evolved so much that you can take very good pictures with them. The breach between smartphones and cameras is narrower than ever, although cameras are still on top in my opinion.
As a travel blogger, I need to take tons of pictures. I use my smartphone mostly, but got myself a Canon DSLR camera. I’m still learning the ropes. I’ve been using it in Auto Mode but I want to use it in Manual Mode. There are so many things to learn.
Camerawise, what smartphone do you recommend? I’ve been using a Samsung Note 5 and it takes good pictures, but I think it’s time to upgrade.
Also, is there a photography course you recommend? I’ve been watching a few YouTube videos and have been learning, but I’d like to dig deeper.
Thanks for sharing. Look forward to reading more from you.
Thanks for reading my post!
Since you’re on the Samsung Note, have you thought about upgrading to the Galaxy Note 10? I know I just read an article about how the Galaxy 11 will be introducing a 108-megapixel camera sensor sometime early next year. I don’t think you can go wrong with either of these.
For good online classes, you can try either Udemy or Skillshare (www.skillshare.com). I’ve used Udemy in the past for other topics like programming languages and databases. But skillshare is much cheaper and has many photography lessons like digital, portrait, nature, street, travel, etc. including courses in Adobe Photoshop.
I hope this helps!
Loved the information. I’ve always wanted to do photography, but I was always making it harder than it really was. It was nice to hear some say that it’s not that hard. Just take pictures and keep practicing.
Thanks Jocelyn for your feedback!
This is a great and easy to read guide on how to begin your journey as a photographer. Any advice on how to choose an entry-level camera if you are planning on shooting weddings?
So far I haven’t shot any weddings, but I did shoot a couple of choir concerts inside a cathedral.
I’m most familiar with Nikon although Canon also makes some excellent cameras too. I have a D3200 that I brought at a reasonable price, but the Nikon D5500 and Nikon D5300 would be good inexpensive choices too. You want something that adjusts well in low lighting and allows a good depth of field when it comes to focusing subject with the background. You want to consider a longer lens too depending on how far away you may have to shoot from – but it’s not necessary. I invested in two extra telephoto lenses at 500mm from shooting from the back of the audience.
I hope this helps!