Did you recently start your photography journey and you’re not sure what to do with your camera? Welcome grasshopper, you’ve come to the right place for photography for beginners!

We love your enthusiasm and drive to get better and we’re going to guide you on your journey to growing as a photographer! This article will give you a brief overview of a number of topics and we’ve included links to more in depth resources for those that want more information!

Where do I start with photography?

photography for beginners start

Everyone’s starting point in photography is going to be slightly different, but it all starts with a camera. Then you have to jump in and get it out of the box or bag and use it. Get a feel for the camera in your hands, the weight of it, where the buttons on the camera lie, and where all the settings for the camera can be found. Use the camera to take some photos of something unimportant and see how they turn out. We stress that the subject of your photos is unimportant because some of these images will not turn out. The last situation you should put yourself in is taking photos of an important occasion that can’t be repeated when you have little to no experience. Putting pressure on yourself to take great photos of an unrepeatable event with a camera you don’t know how to use can scare many people away from photography. Of course it helps to read lots of photography articles before shooting!

What camera should I buy as a beginner photographer?

photography for beginners camera

Here at Cole’s Classroom, we’re all about using what cameras you’ve got on hand at home already to improve at photography. Maybe you’ve got an old point and shoot camera, or  a DSLR camera you pulled out of your attic storage. Why do we advocate for using what you have on hand? When starting photography for beginners, people often buy pricey equipment. This equipment gets used for a short while before they lose interest in photography and let their expensive investment collect dust. So to save your wallet, practice with an old camera on hand until you’re sure photography is more than just a passing fancy.

What camera do I need?

Now let’s assume you don’t have a camera or your camera is broken so you need a new one. There are so many wonderful beginner cameras on the market at the moment. The great thing is, you don’t need to purchase a specific brand of camera to get good quality. All the big players in the camera field produce high quality images: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Leica, Fujifilm & Olympus. For a starter camera, you should aim to spend between $400-700 on the camera, a basic lens, and a memory card. Most often a basic lens such as an 18-35mm is sold with the camera. This is so you don’t have to worry about deciding which lens you need at the beginning of your photography journey.

See our camera picks for photographers of all experience levels.

What lens do I need?

As with cameras, we recommend starting with just one lens when learning photography for beginners. Established photographers use different lenses depending on what subjects they photograph. For example, a sports photographer needs a zoom lens while a landscape photographer needs a wide angle lens. Personally, macro photography appealed greatly to me before I bought my first DSLR, however now I photograph landscapes and families. It’s good I didn’t invest in a macro lens back then because I would rarely if ever use that lens now. So wait to buy a lens until you’ve had time to try out a few genres of photography. One last note on cameras and lenses: even the best gear on the market takes underwhelming or crummy photos if you don’t know how to use them. So it’s time to learn the basics of photography.

Looking for a new lens? Learn about 6 types of lenses here.

What are the basics of photography?

photography for beginners

With photography for beginners the first thing you need to know to start taking good photos is how to get the right exposure. There are three settings that intermingle to adjust the brightness of your photos. These are aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. When you adjust one of these settings, the other ones need to be changed to compensate for the change in setting. Aperture controls the amount of light entering your camera at any one time, ISO controls the sensitivity of your camera sensor to the light, and shutter speed controls how long your camera sensor is exposed to light. You use each of these settings in slightly different ways depending on your lighting situation. We definitely recommend checking out our sister articles to get to know these settings in greater detail.

How do I become a photographer?

photography for beginners perspective

Anyone can click the shutter button on a camera, but a photographer has an artistic vision in their mind for what they want to show. A photographer shows the viewer a new perspective or point of view, and has or develops the talent to bring the best out of people. There’s no avoiding it, if you want to be a photographer you need to practice. Future product photographers, you need to take shots of any item you get your hands on. Take shots from as many angles as possible. If sports fascinate you, get practicing at an adult league or your child’s sports league (if they allow it). If you want to be a portrait photographer then you need to start practicing on family or friends. Look online for inspiration! There are thousands of photos online that can give you ideas for new things to try. You can’t grow as a photographer if you never try something new.

Try out these new composition techniques to enhance your images!

Once you’ve had some practice, put those beautiful photos up on a website for the world to see! You’ll grow so much as you’re learning photography for beginners, and you should have a place to show your progress. A website isn’t necessary to become a photographer, but it gives potential client’s a spot to go to get some information about your business. You need to be consistent and persistent with promoting your services to people. The more you talk about what you do, the more likely you will find someone willing to pay you for your services. Use social media and word of mouth to get your business name out there.

How do I learn manual mode?

Why would someone want to learn manual mode if the camera can decide for you how to take a photo? You don’t want the camera to control what pictures you take, you want to control your camera so it can take the photos you want. For example, you want a silhouette shot of your pregnant client in front of a bright window. Your camera will choose to properly expose the expectant mother and blown out the windows. By learning manual mode you can override the camera settings to get that silhouette shot. Learning manual mode is a tough step in photography for beginners. There are going to be many moments where you don’t get the settings right which can be frustrating. However if you’re able to keep calm and try something new (or check Coles’s Classroom) you’ll get it right! Until you’re comfortable in manual mode, it is helpful to only photograph unimportant subjects to avoid missing important moments.

Learn more about manual mode here!

It’s all about practice

Photography for beginners can feel a little daunting when you think about how much there is to learn. Ease some pressure of yourself by learning about one new thing at a time and practicing until it feels natural. Avoid committing to photographing important events until you’re comfortable and ready. Find a friend at the same skill level as you for help, inspiration, and good fun!

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