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Five Tips for Beginning Photographers (Equipment and Methods)

Updated on October 6, 2013
Capturing the moment in a photograph takes more than simply clicking a camera.
Capturing the moment in a photograph takes more than simply clicking a camera.

Definition by Way of Word

Photography is defined as "the art or practice of taking and processing photographs".

Note the art and practice words placed in this definition. There is more to photography than just snapping shots. With practice and knowledge, you too can transform your mediocre picture-taking to new and more professional levels.

Photography Finesse

Picking up a camera and taking pictures is one thing. There is a fine line between picture-taking and actual photography. Most people believe that snapping a few well-aligned shots classifies as photography, but there's many factors that come into play, a lot of which will not be covered in this Hub, simply for their complexity. For now, we are going to focus on what it is the beginning photographer needs to kick-start that photography bug itching at their fingertips. Here we'll cover methods and equipment, as well as a few well-placed tips on some things you should and shouldn't do.

1. Expensive Comes Later

There is one mistake that beginning artists do that often doesn't work out very well in their favor. Whether it be music, painting, photography, or sculpture. Going out and buying the most expensive of equipment is a recipe for disaster. Beginning painters do not purchase the finest of acrylic paints, or look for the gigantic canvases that can cover entire walls. Beginning guitarists should not dip thousands on an expensive electric, and as for photographers...don't buy that expensive camera worth hundreds. There are steps to everything. And in order to build up to that level, patience is key. Purchasing a decent, but affordable camera is everything. This camera is here for those slip ups when you drop it, the ease and familiarity of a beginner's learning curve. Expensive cameras have features and specifications and other things that may be difficult to wrap your head around if you're just starting out.

For now, simpler is better.

Expensive cameras may seem enticing, but they are not recommended for anyone just starting out.
Expensive cameras may seem enticing, but they are not recommended for anyone just starting out.
Find your theme. What colors do you want to see? What lighting? By pinpointing your specific preferences, you will be one step closer to producing beautiful photographs.
Find your theme. What colors do you want to see? What lighting? By pinpointing your specific preferences, you will be one step closer to producing beautiful photographs.

2. Experimentation

Nothing is worse than not stepping out of boundaries and comfort zones. So you've got your camera and are ready to start taking pictures? But where do you start?

First of all, let's begin by saying: what do you most want to take pictures of? Do you want to do landscapes? Still-lifes? Nature? Animals? Food and drink? Do you want the sunlight to play on a certain item? Do you want a lamp to throw lighting in one direction on a well-placed curtain? What color scheme are you looking for? Darks? Lights? Black and white?

There's a lot of things to consider when it comes to photography, and knowing what you want to photograph is key. Once you have a solid foundation of what you want to take pictures of, start experimenting. Let's say you have a passion for still-life photography. Start by shooting pictures of objects at angles that you would have never thought of. Let sunlight play through a glass of water and take a shot. Adjust your camera settings, set up filters, enhance areas on the photograph via other options on your camera.

Experimentation is one of the key actions you can take towards becoming a better photographer. Painters had to mix odd colors to find what works best. Musicians had to find their own sound. Well, it's your turn to find your own view on the world. Take time to become familiar with your camera and your taste in what you'd like to see frozen in a photograph.

Experiment with placement and lighting. A beautiful photograph can be the end result.
Experiment with placement and lighting. A beautiful photograph can be the end result.

3. Invest in a Tripod

Tripods are useful in the aspect that, if you're a beginner and can't quite get that steady posture necessary for taking aligned photos, it can help. Tripods set your camera perfectly still and can be combined with a timer so that you can arrange any items or perhaps wait for a perfect moment out in the natural world before it automatically takes your picture.

Don't think that because you're using a tripod it makes you any less of a photographer. Obviously professionals use their hands to take quality photos and can't go around carrying a tripod everywhere. But this little item can help you get to that point. No one says use it forever. But consider it a stepping stone to perfecting posture and position.

4. Commit to the Camera

For the people that are more serious about photography, I suggest that you treat your camera like your fresh new sidekick. Bringing your camera with you practically everywhere gives you the flexibility you need to take spur-of-the-moment shots. Not every photograph can be perfected and molded by you. Sometimes in the world there will be a shot so perfect, so natural and unexpected, that having a camera with you will mean the difference between a professional shot or a missed opportunity.

If your camera is bulky, invest in a carrying case or something that you can strap onto and carry around your shoulder. Many people consider smaller, digital cameras for going out, and leave the heavier duty stuff for when they really need it. Even with a decent digital, you can capture some amazing moments.

Also consider taking a class on photography. Just one. No one says go crazy, but getting a firm grasp on the basics of photography will go a long way. Here you'll learn about some basic things like lighting and position. They may cover color scheme and even perspective topics. Whatever they cover, just know that it will help you in the long run. Search for classes at your local community college or consider seminars and clubs.

Take your camera with you to all kinds of places. You never know what shots may become available when you least expect them to.
Take your camera with you to all kinds of places. You never know what shots may become available when you least expect them to.

5. Learn from Others

This might not be what you were expecting me to say and by NO means am I saying to steal other peoples' work and/or ideas.

What I am suggesting is that you do a quick online search of websites that offer photographs similar to the type you would like to take. For instance, a common website for artists is http://www.deviantart.com. Here, learning artists such as yourself can browse thousands of pieces from people all over the world. By searching your photography, you can find vast examples and even read their descriptions, and how they attained such a beautiful piece.

If you need inspiration, looking at other peoples' work might push you in the right direction. It might motivate you to attempt to create photographs with similar characteristics. Try searching on the internet for websites and save examples of work. Try to mimic certain things like lighting and color scheme. Do not however, mimic the exact piece or photograph, as this will get you nowhere. Instead focus on the methods at hand, and watch as your photography prowess grows.

DeviantArt is a playground for photographers and artists alike. You may find something that inspires you on similar websites.
DeviantArt is a playground for photographers and artists alike. You may find something that inspires you on similar websites.

Finesse at its Finest

These tips won't make anyone a professional photographer. But for those who are serious, it's definitely a step in the right direction. There is no right or wrong way to take pictures, but there are methods, steps, and styles that will shape the outcome of yours. Take time to practice everyday, don't forget to bring your trusty camera along for the ride, and most importantly of all, don't overlook any ordinary object worth fitting into a frame.

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