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Why am I offering these basic tips: because many beginners buy a new camera and expect to just take great photos right from the start. And that is not the case. They only rely on the ability of the camera to get a great picture. You would not buy an expensive oven and simply assume you’re a great cook. You would not buy a guitar and already assume that you can play like Jimmi Hendrix.
People buy new cameras and assume they can make great photos. Lucky for us this is not the truth … if that would be the case than everyone would be able to take a great photo. Photography takes time to learn and understand the concepts and also to gain enough experience.
So here are my 10 basic tips for you if you want to be a better photographer:
- Learn the basics: aperture, exposure time, iso, depth of field
This is the first step. Learn how to expose a scene and what are the elements that control the depth of field. Don’t expect this to be a one day job: you will constantly learn these things day after day after day
- Learn to use the manual mode of your camera
Manual mode gives you the most control over your photo. Understanding how to manually set up all your technical settings can dramatically improve your photos.
- Learn geometric composition
Here I’m not talking about the 1 minute to understand rule of thirds: I’m talking about more than that. Learn from painters: they’ve been playing this game well before photographers. In time, through practice, you’ll develop a way to understand the geometric relations from the field and also learn how to use that to your advantage
- Learn about how the light influence the mood of a scene
Again go with the painters and see what they did: look at painters like Rembrandt, Edward Hopper, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Siskin. Look at their paintings and learn to see the light in their work
- Don’t concentrate on gear
If the gear was decisive than everyone should be able to do a great photo. Gear doesn’t matter that much. The moment when you rely on a certain camera to take a photo what you’ll do if you don’t have that camera. Thinking that gear is everything shows disrespect for all the great photographers before us that we look up and admire. They didn’t had modern sensors and lenses produces by robots with milimetric precision … and still their photographs express so much more than most photographers these days
- Learn what accessories are useful for your type of photography
Accessories are important: polarizing filters, ND filters, ND gradual filters, tripods, triggers and so on. Experiment with that: don’t just buy them all. Wait until you feel the need to have a certain piece of equipment
- Learn to use the editing software
Photoshop and Lightroom are not bad. These software don’t diminishes the quality of a photo. You shoot digitally … you need a digital room to process your photos. What it’s important is to learn how to use the software and then to be true to your viewers. Editing help you find your artistic vision: beside the way of framing and composing the photo this will help you create a whole artistic expression through your images.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: photograph as often as you can
Every great photographer was a beginner at some point. We are born with cameras in our hands. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes. But be careful to whom you ask for critique. Many beginners ask for critique on Facebook where everyone having a camera will tell their opinion. This is not necessary productive. Ask for a critique from a photographer you admire and aspire to.
- Experiment with crazy ideas, compositions and editing techniques
Experiments will take you further than you might think: it’s a lot of fun and you can also learn new techniques
Patience: nothing great is built overnight
In the end don’t expect to buy a camera and in few weeks or months to be a great photographer. Even after you’ve learned the basic and your work starts to show quality it will take time to be recognize by the photographic community. The journey is the same for almost everyone. I admit that there are few photographer that simply explode in a short time but usually that’s not the case. There are many brilliant photographers that still struggle for a wide visibility. This is how things work on planet Earth. Be patience. I truly believe that nothing great can be built overnight!