Photography isn’t a skill you learn overnight, but it takes a lot of practice to master.
They say that to master a skill, you need to invest at least 10,000 hours into it, and photography is no different, in this aspect.
To learn photography as fast as possible, you should tackle it from every possible angle.
By reading this list of the best photography tips for beginners, you can do just that!
1. Read a photography book
Reading a book is the most undervalued way of learning, and this includes photography.
Considering how handy they are and how fun they make the learning process, I am surprised more people don’t utilize books to learn photography.
It doesn’t matter if you’re reading an e-book or own a physical copy, you could (and should) take the book with you when you go shooting. This way, you always have the information ready.
Here are two books I recommend for beginners:
2. Watch YouTube videos
You can find a lot of great photographers on YouTube that teach you photography for free.
These are world-class photographers who make money taking photos – so who better to learn from than them? Keep in mind that these people spent years, if not decades, perfecting their photography prowess.
I decided to include 3 favourite photographers of mine on this list of the best photography tips from beginners from whom I learnt the most.
Mark Denney is my all-time favourite content creator. Since he left his corporate job of 18-years to become a full-time photographer, he’s has uploaded well over 100 detailed video tutorials on YouTube.
His videos are to the point tutorials, which cover both basic and advanced techniques that every (landscape) photographer should at least understand and know of.
His fast-growing channel can be an inspiration to anyone caught in the same routine that he once was.
Thomas Heaton started with photography when he was 16. His love for the outsides and capturing “that feeling” you can sense only when in nature.
On his YouTube channel, he takes you with him on his shoots and travels, giving you an insight into a photographer’s day.
His channel is exceptionally diverse and contains everything photography related, from A to Z.
Henry Turner is a landscape photographer from the north-west part of England. At the age of 21, he travelled through Europe, followed by Canada and New Zealand – ever since Henry fell in love with landscapes.
He runs a successful YouTube channel, where he uploads videos from his shoots. He explains his compositions and camera settings in a very clear manner with a super-calm and soothing voice
3. No need to buy expensive gear
When you’re just starting out with your photography journey, you DO NOT need professional gear.
Obviously better gear means better results, but as a beginner you need to learn about the basics, first.
A beginner with top tier gear is not guaranteed to succeed, whilst a professional with a cheap camera will still take great photos.
Actually, it is even better to start with a simpler camera and learn the basics, and progress over-time, than to buy a piece of equipment that you won’t know how to use.
Here are some of my suggestions for beginners:
Although I do not recommend using a smartphone to learn photography, you can take good photos with every half-decent phone with a camera.
If your aim is landscape photography, a smartphone camera isn’t really an option. However, you can make it work for portrait or street/city photography.
The smartphone will adjust camera settings for you (unless you use “Pro” mode) and you can focus more on the composition, which is usually the most difficult aspect of photography to master.
If you’re not willing to buy a camera, these are the smartphones with great cameras I tested and recommend.
However, remember that these are the photography tips for beginners – photographer should have a camera, and not just a smartphone.
4. Buy a tripod
This is a list of photography tips for beginners wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention tripods.
Tripod is an essential tool for every photographer who wants razor-sharp photos.
The only exclusions might be portrait and sports photographers, who need more mobility, which is otherwise hindered by a tripod.
Tripods are a must for any kind of long-exposure photography, such as waterfalls, night sky, traffic lights, or if you’re trying to focus stack or make an HDR image.
As someone who has tried several tripods, I highly recommend using a tripod with a tilt-head. You can find some links for the tripods down below:
- Slik Pro 700 DX (I use this one and I love it)
- AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag
- UBeesize 60” Phone Tripod
- GEEKOTO 77” Tripod
5. Explore your local area
Although your local area might not be as interesting as the Faroe Islands or New Zealand, you can still take amazing photos no more than 10 minutes from home.
There are several advantages of training photography in your local area.
You can easily come back to improve the shot
This is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of shooting locally, and hands-down one of the best ways to improve your photography.
Doing this is how I improved my skills. Every other day for more than a year, I’ve been coming back to the same area and trying to improve the shot I took the last time.
I came back at sunrise, sunset, midday, and even at night to photograph Milky Way.
What is more, I came back in spring, summer, autumn, and in the winter, in rain and sun.
And this, my friend, is how you become better.
Always analyse your photos and try to improve them.
You know it well
Don’t underestimate your local area and your expertise in it.
Knowing an area well will help you find better spots for photography, and hopefully, you already know a couple.
Sell photos to local newspapers, tourist-agencies, or residents
It’s not awe-inspiring landscape photos that sell the best.
Often, people want beautiful photos of the area they grew up in rather than of some foreign country.
Additionally, local newspapers and tourist agencies might buy these photos from you, or – even better – you might even be able to strike a deal with one of them, to become their photographer.
6. Learn the basics
Photography is art.
Your success with it depends on your artistic and creative capabilities. That, however, doesn’t mean that an artistic person will take great photos right from the beginning, or that an uncreative person cannot take a good photo.
Everyone needs to learn the basics first, and that includes you!
This list should be a good starting point:
- Composition (Start with Rule of thirds)
- Shutter speed
- Aperture (Depth of field)
- Learn about chromatic aberration
Here, you can apply the very first 1 tip on my list of photography tips for beginners. I recommend Scott Kelby’s The Landscape Photography Book.
His book The Digital Photography Book was my first photography book and the one from which I learnt the most theory. His writing style is to the point and seasoned with some humour.
7. Experiment with your camera settings
Your camera is probably a lot more powerful and flexible than you realize.
It is time that you pick up the camera manual, that you probably forgot all about. Aim to understand every symbol and what each button does, and how you can use the functions to improve your photography.
Also, each camera brand is different. It takes some time getting used to every model, but once you do, not only will you be much quicker on the terrain (being able to choose the optimal settings within seconds is key sometimes), you will also understand your camera’s shortcomings.
You will be surprised by how much potential your camera has. It’s waiting for you to unlock it.
8. Arrive early
If you’re planning to shoot sunrise (i.e Golden hour), try arriving at your destination at least half an hour early.
Why? It takes some time to find a composition, and you don’t want to rush that process. After all, this is your hobby. Take your time and enjoy nature in all its beauty.
The light around sunrise and sunset changes extremely fast, so be sure to have your composition and camera setting locked and loaded for when it starts.
9. Edit your photos
Contrary to a popular (especially laic) belief, post-processing photos is a must if you want realistic-looking photos. You should always shoot in raw and then edit the photos. This way you will get the most out of your camera.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to experiment with photo editing. You can always revert any edits you have applied. So, keep trying new things and find your style.
Let’s look at which photo editing app to choose.
There are a lot of good free photo editors available, such as Photopea. However, if you’re aiming for something a little bit more professional, and – let’s be honest – better, I recommend Luminar AI, Lightroom, or even Luminar 4.
For a total beginner, I recommend Luminar AI, because it is easier to use and has more creative options. Learn more about Luminar AI in my review.
10. Practise a lot!
Practice makes perfect! So, don’t forget to do it a lot.
Everybody knows that practice makes perfect, and this also applies to photography. Every professional photographer was a beginner once. It took years for most to acquire the skills needed to take outstanding photos.
Try to go shooting as often as possible. It doesn’t even matter if the light is perfect. Don’t limit yourself to sunrises and sunsets. A lot of great pictures are taken in the middle of the day.
And even if you think that you need a sunset light, you can achieve it with post-production, as described here.
Bonus Photography Tip: Skillshare
Skillshare is an online learning and education platform, that offers lessons in virtually every field – and photography is no exception. It also has a very straightforward and user-friendly interface, that is very easy to use.
It is very easy to use, has an abundance of content, and is reasonably priced.
What is more? You can try it for free.
Are you ready to start improving your photography skills faster than anyone else? Would you like to do it for free?
Conclusion | Photography tips for beginners
Photography takes time to master. Try not to rush it and don’t expect to get good overnight.
Always save photos you take, so you can come back later in your learning process and admire the progress you’ve made. I don’t notice any significant improvement to my photos on a daily basis, but looking back all I can do is giggle at photos I took and thought were good.
To end this list of photography tips for beginners I’d like to leave you with one thought:
“Don’t give up if you don’t see the progress immediately, it will come to you over time”.
Disclaimer: As a member of the Amazon Associate program and Skylum affiliate program I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases made using links in this post of the best photography tips for beginners.