Photography is a fun and fascinating process. It’s easier now than ever to get started too. Long gone are the days of needing portable darkrooms or waiting hours to take a single photograph. You can dive in and start snapping away at anything that piques your interest.|
Since the technical barrier to photography has been drastically reduced, we have much more time to focus on how to take good pictures. We’ve compiled 47 photography tips for beginners that show quick ways to improve photography techniques without overcomplicating things.
There’s lots to take in as a new photographer, so we’ve also broken the list down into five categories. Jump to the sections you need the most help on below. With this in hand, browse our photography rentals to find gear that’ll help boost your skills.
1. Learn all the rules so you can break them later
Photography rules are essential because they provide a foundation for more advanced photography tips and tricks later on. Learn the rules first, so you have more creative control when breaking them later.
Learn as you go — don’t let it prevent you from picking up a camera.
2. Expose and focus first, then frame your shot
An improperly exposed or blurry picture is unusable, but one not precisely framed may still be saved. For this reason, you should always focus on and properly expose for the subject before adjusting the frame.
This is something that happens more often when you have extreme lights and darks in the same scene.
3.Focus on the eyes
We are always drawn towards the eyes in a photograph, since eyes are a natural focal point that we connect with.
When taking portrait photographs at any aperture, make sure you nail the focus on the eyes. As long as the eyes are in focus, both you and your subject are more likely to consider the picture to be properly shot.
4. Make lots of mistakes, then learn from them
The more mistakes you make, the faster you’ll learn and improve your photography skills. All professional photographers once started without an understanding of anything on a camera.
The real value is in turning mistakes into lessons that build your skills. So try a technique or style you haven’t done before and expect to make many mistakes along the way.
5. Perfect the exposure trifecta
Getting proper exposure in photography consists of balancing three things: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings. You can start off by shooting in automatic or priority mode, but to get full control and shoot with manual camera controls you’ll have to understand the relationship between these three things that each directly affect the exposure and quality of your image.
ISO – Pronounced “eye-so,” this is (strangely) an acronym for International Organization for Standardization. The ISO indicates how sensitive the sensor or film is to light. For darker scenarios, you’ll need to use higher or more sensitive ISO settings to capture light, such as 800 or 1600 ISO. Higher settings generally introduce more grain or noise into the image.
Aperture – This refers to the size of the opening in the lens diaphragm. Smaller numbers mean a larger opening and more shallow depth of field in your images. Larger numbers let through less light, but make more of your image look sharp.
Shutter speed – This is the amount of time your camera’s shutter is open and the amount of time your sensor or film is exposed to light. Faster speeds can “stop” motion, while slower speeds let in more light and can capture blur and motion.
6. Always be ready
Be as prepared as a boy scout and always be ready to snap a shot. Most digital SLRs have nearly instantaneous startup times, and it takes almost no extra battery power to leave your camera on.
Keep your camera on one of the semi-auto or full automatic modes for unexpected pictures before your subject flies, drives, or runs away. You can always switch back to your preferred mode when you have time to adjust for a stationary subject. Sometimes you only have a split second to capture a great shot.
7. Use a wider aperture for portraits to make your subject pop
Aim for an aperture size around f/2.8 to f/5.6 to make the background behind your subject more blurred out. This will help remove distracting backgrounds and make your subject stand out. You can experiment with even wider apertures, but take care to keep your subject’s eyes in focus.
8. Prevent blurry pictures by matching shutter speed to the lens focal length
For example, if you’re using a 50mm lens you should use shutter speeds of 1/50 sec or faster to be able to capture handheld images and keep them sharp. Longer lenses are heavier and more difficult to keep steady — making the shutter speed faster helps avoid camera shake.
9. Straighten and crop when editing
You should try to straighten shots by looking through your camera’s viewfinder before capturing an image, but it’s not always easy to get this perfect on the first try.
The viewfinder or the preview on your LCD is quite small compared to full-screen editing so you may realize it needs adjusting once you see it on a bigger screen. Simply rotate your images in post production software and crop out the empty spaces.
10. Avoid camera shake
Camera shake can render a photo unusable. Increasing your ISO and opening up your aperture allows for quicker shutter speeds, reducing the chance of blurry images. However, this is not always an option if you’re trying to maintain other specific qualities of your image.
Start by doing what you can to reduce camera movement, which begins with learning how to properly hold a camera.
Use one hand to support the camera body and use the other to support the lens. Pull your elbows in against your body so they have something stable to rest on. Then hold your breath right before pressing the shutter release. You can further stabilize your body if there’s a wall, tree, other solid object, or even the floor to rest on. Some scenarios with longer exposures will require the use of a tripod.
11. Keep both eyes open when looking through the rangefinder
This has a few advantages. When shooting portraits, your subjects will be able to ‘connect’ with you by seeing one of your eyes. Without this, many subjects can feel a little bit uneasy like you’re hiding behind the camera.
Secondly, keeping both eyes open lets you monitor what’s out of the frame so you can predict when your subject will enter the frame. This is important for capturing sports, animals, or any kind of action shots.
12. Learn to use exposure compensation
Sometimes you’ll take photographs that don’t properly expose your subject—they are way too bright, or way too dark. This can be a combination of a few things: which areas of the scene your camera measured for exposure, and how different in brightness the light and dark areas are in your scene.
You can quickly fix these images by using the in-camera exposure compensation to make your subject look just right.