The best photography tips for beginners will take you from taking snapshots to being able to create a work of art. Are you new to photography? Just getting started in digital photography? You are entering into a fantastic and fun world that will provide you with enough enjoyment for a lifetime and, with these tips for beginner photographers, will be easier than ever before.
To help you with the first steps, we have compiled the best photography tips and tricks for beginners, but experienced photographers will also benefit from many of these tips, either as a reminder or as a new way of looking at the joy of photography.
With these totally usable photography tips for absolute beginners, you will be much closer to achieving those photographs you dream of. Let’s dive into them!
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1. Train yourself to have a good eye for photography
Admittedly, this sounds cliché. But it really is one of the best tips for novel photographers. What it means is looking at things with a final image in mind. I like to refer to it as previsualization, just as Ansel Adams did.
Look at a scene and imagine what you could do photographically with it. Photography is more than taking pictures. It is creating an image, perhaps even art, from what is in front of your eyes. Be an observer before being a recorder.
You may hear many people say that “learning to see” is one of the most important things you need to be a photographer. Putting this saying into practice is more helpful. Observe the world around you with the thought of making that scene your work of art. Even without a camera, you can see the world through a lens. This photography tip will help you take better photos even before you take the camera out of your backpack.
2. Understand how light in photography works
The next beginner tip for photography is understanding how light works. Of course you know what light is, but how does it work for photography? The term photography actually means “drawing with light.”
That means that, in order to learn photography, you will need to be able to make light work for you.
Basic camera settings can get you a good picture. Learning the basic photography skills, the photography essentials, is necessary for making images that you and others will want to view again and again.
Take a good look at some of your favorite photographs, whether you took them yourself or they are the work of others. Notice where the shadows fall, where the highlights shine. Then, imagine where the light source was that caused those highlights and shadows. Think about how you would have placed the light or the subject in order to capture that image or perhaps improve on it.
Managing light correctly is possibly one of the more difficult photography tips for absolute beginners. But once you master it, there will be a substantial improvement in your images.
3. Master the photography basics – Essential photography tips for beginners
What are the photography basics that beginners should master? The three variables that control exposure are the aperture or f-stop, the shutter speed, and the ISO. Understanding the exposure triangle, sometimes called “the golden triangle,” gives you control over the final image.
You don’t have to go full manual right away. Just take the camera off of the green dot full auto setting and start experimenting with your camera settings. Besides setting everything manually or leaving the camera on full auto, you can use semi-automatic modes.
Using aperture priority mode or shutter speed priority mode can help you learn exposure basics and the other photo tricks that these settings control, such as freezing the motion of a scene, creating a daytime long exposure with slow shutter speeds, or controlling the depth of field with the aperture settings.
4. Learn the basic photography composition rules
If you don’t know where to start and want to learn photography, I recommend studying the basic composition rules.
One of the basic rules of photo composition that is talked about in every beginner photographer tips compilation is the rule of thirds. It’s definitely one of the composition skills you will want to master. But there are also other composition rules to use.
When learning composition skills, you will want to pay attention to guiding lines, “S curves”, the golden ratio, and balance inside the frame of the image. Beginner photographers can use all of these elements with any type of camera. A smartphone or an advanced DSLR are equally capable of being used for the different types of photographic composition.
Understanding these rules and knowing that you should not always strictly follow them is a tip that could not be missing from our guide to learning how to take photos. You can learn more about photography composition here.
5. Get started in photography by shooting in Raw
One of my favorite beginner tips for taking good pictures with a digital camera is to change your file setting from Jpeg to whatever RAW file your camera has. The primary reason is to give you the ability to edit images to a fuller degree.
In a RAW image file, you have so much more exposure information to work with for editing images. Jpegs straight out of the camera might look pretty good, but most images will benefit from at least a few tweaks.
Many special effects and photo tricks are easy to do with a basic image editing program. This can increase your fun with photography and will also help you learn what exposure, light, and composition do in your photography. In fact, in order to really learn photography as a beginner, my recommendation is to start your education by shooting in RAW and editing your images.
6. Use the basic focusing tips – essential photography tips for beginners
Autofocus modes are one of your best friends as a beginner photographer. Advanced users and professional photographers also rely on autofocus in many photographic situations.
On other occasions, such as, for example, for shooting the Milky Way or photographing the Northern Lights, mastering manual focus is essential, since most digital cameras struggle to focus in low-light conditions.
In any case, to make sure your shots are in focus, check your camera manual to see how you can adjust which focus points are used and how to focus in manual mode if needed. This is one of the basic tips to get started in photography.
If you don’t get the result you are looking for, you can check how to fix blurry photos here.
7. Don’t be afraid of the camera’s manual mode
If you want to learn how to improve as a photographer, you should start taking pictures in the various modes your camera has, including full manual mode.
Once you’ve already learned the basics of exposure and the exposure triangle, and know what all the buttons of your camera do, one of the best basic tips for photography is immediately reviewing what you’ve captured, either by reviewing the images on your camera viewscreen as you shoot them or loading the images onto your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
In fact, by reviewing your images, you can learn how to understand your camera in just 10 minutes. Change the settings manually and take note of what each change causes. In addition to the exposure changes, you can readily view the differences that slow and fast shutter speeds cause, as well as the changes in depth of field when using different apertures values.
8. Learn how to properly hold your camera
One of the best tips on using DSLR cameras for beginners is simply knowing how best to hold your camera. Many first time users of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are used to taking pictures with a smartphone, holding the lightweight phone out in front of their face, and using the viewscreen to compose the shot. However, with digital cameras. this is not recommended.
Learning to hold a camera vertically and horizontally at eye-level is an essential technique when shooting handheld. Someone holding a camera should usually stand with his or her feet at about shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other for good balance. With the camera at eye-level, keep your arms in close to your body for added stability.
All of this helps you to avoid camera shake, which will lead to sharper images.
9. Take your time to zoom in on your images to find mistakes
Learning photography can be enjoyable, especially now, in this age of digital cameras, since we can get instant feedback with camera viewscreens.
Focusing mistakes are one of the easier issues to see and correct by using your viewscreen and zooming in on the image, so one of the essential tips for taking good shots for beginners is always reviewing your photos after taking them. If your image is lacking in focus or exposure, or has digital noise, just retake it.
Yes, you can edit images to make them better, but it’s good practice to start with the best photograph possible, since many errors are difficult or impossible to correct with an editing program. One of the most important photography tips for starters is to try to get home with the best possible photo, so you only have to make slight adjustments later.
10. Try creative photography techniques for becoming a better photographer
So many tips for starting photography involve just taking a small step outside the box. Once you’re already willing to use manual settings and learn about lighting, take a small step further.
A fun photography exercise for beginners is to try out long exposure photography. With a decent editing program, beginners can also do panorama photography without a lot of difficult image editing. Use a tripod to get the best results.
Look for reflections in your scenes. In the first tip, we explained how you can train yourself to have a good eye for photography. Use that skill and expand on it. Reflections can come from many sources. Water, glass, metal, eyes, and other things can all be used to show a scene from a different point of view.
11. Basic Photography Tip for beginners: Shoot in all light conditions
Related to trying creative techniques is trying out shooting in what may seem to be difficult lighting conditions. Being new to photography, perhaps you have relied on your camera’s auto-mode and familiar situations. But photographing different light scenes in manual mode will help you develop that ability so you can do it yourself.
Try out taking pictures at night and in low light conditions. Use your viewscreen to review the shots and see what settings to adjust. Practice holding your camera steady or use a tripod for best results.
Actually, that’s not just a night photography tip; it’s also a good tip for taking good photos in general.
12. Make the most of your photography equipment
What is the minimum equipment needed to be a photographer?
The things photographers need, or the photography essentials, will vary somewhat from person to person. The equipment requirements will also change with certain different types of photography.
You can take photos with a smartphone, but anyone who wants to learn photography should start with an entry-level camera at least. If you’ve already practiced photography with a smartphone, the transition to a reflex or mirrorless camera will be much easier.
Starting with an entry-level camera will also allow you to see what you really like to photograph before investing in more expensive equipment and accessories. One of the tips of this photography guide for beginners is knowing that “it is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.” A good photographer will make the most of even limited photography gear.
13. Hone your photography skills to improve as a photographer
Many times, when you take your first steps as a photographer, it is normal to feel satisfied with your photographs, but over time, you are likely to see more and more mistakes in your old photos. Every photographer goes through this process of evolution, and the only secret to advancement is practicing.
In addition to practicing and trying out new things, ask other photographers whose work you enjoy for their advice for taking good photos. Online forums and social media let us interact with photographers from around the world who do many styles and types of photography.
Just be careful not to fall into the trap of wanting to stand out on social media and feeling that your work isn’t good enough; evolution requires effort and patience, and haste is never good.
14. Study and look at as many photographs as possible
The previous photography tip for beginners naturally leads to this tip: look at photographs from other people. Developing a good eye for photography can involve examining what others have done, as well as looking at your own surroundings creatively.
Think about how to look at photographs to determine what that photographer did to capture that image. Then, go try out what you think they did. Whether your initial thought was correct or not, putting yourself in other photographers’ shoes will help you improve your photography.
The medium you use to study other photographers is also important. My advice is that you do so by checking the books or web pages of these photographers, not social media, since it’s dedicated to sharing photos but not to analyzing them. You will need to see the images in large sizes.
15. Watch photography tutorials for beginners
Take advantage of all the free photography resources for beginners to learn photography.
On websites like YouTube, you can find photography composition tutorials, editing and post-processing tutorials, lighting diagrams, and so on. There are tons of free photography courses for beginners!
On the other hand, on some image post-processing software websites, like Adobe, you can find free resources and many tips for beginners.
16. Be aware of the importance of a tripod when you start in photography
A good tripod is among the must-have photography equipment. The golden tip for any beginning photographer is not to use a poor quality tripod. A cheap, flimsy, plastic tripod may seem like the best way to start, but it’s not the best idea to “risk” breaking your expensive photography equipment on top of a tripod that can be dropped or broken at any time.
If you find yourself in a situation where you wonder, “should I use a tripod for this photo?”, then you’d probably be better off using one.
A decent tripod is part of the must-have photography gear to prevent blurry pictures or unsharp images, especially when using long telephoto lenses, shooting in low light, or trying creative photography techniques such as HDR or panoramas.
17. Ask for feedback from other photographers
One of the best basic photography tips is to ask other photographers for advice and feedback.
Hearing good comments on our photography can be quite a confidence booster. However, receiving some constructive criticism or even negative feedback from professional photographers is what makes you improve.
Yes, some people on websites may act like “trolls,” but most photo forums and photo groups are full of people who love the art and craft of photography. My photography tip for beginners is: don’t be afraid to show off your work.
18. Take your camera with you as much as you can
These simple photography tips won’t benefit a beginner photographer at all if you don’t take pictures.
Take photos regularly, wherever you find yourself throughout the day, as long as photography is appropriate in those places. Being camera-ready is one of the best photography tips for beginners!
If you aren’t carrying your new DSLR with you, phone photography is still a great option. Modern smartphones are great photographic tools. Plus, you probably have it with you almost all the time.
19. Focus on the process, not the results: the best tip for novice photographers
Enjoy the photography learning process. Take it as slowly or as rapidly as you feel comfortable doing. Don’t get anxious to improve quickly; just relax, look for inspiration, and keep taking pictures.
Many times, what works for others may not work for you right now. The important thing is seeing photography not as a race or competition, but as a hobby and passion that you have to nurture and take care of to enjoy in the long term. If you get frustrated, you’ll end up giving up, so one of the most important tips for taking good photos is to enjoy the learning process.
20. Landscape photography tips for beginners
Generally, use a narrow aperture between f/8 and f/13 to control the depth of field. This will mean using a tripod in most cases to ensure sharp images, since the shutter speed will be slower.
You may want to try using lens filters to do long exposures landscape photography, which can create a special effect of blurred motion in water, clouds, and other elements. Neutral density and graduated neutral density are the filters to look for if this interests you.
21. Portrait photography tips for amateur photographers
For great portraits, you may want to use a wide aperture in order to get a narrow depth of field. This creates a pleasing image because the background can be thrown out of focus to a greater or lesser extent.
When playing around with wide apertures and limited depth of field, it’s good practice to focus on the eyes of your subject. If anything else is not that sharp, it may not matter that much. However, out-of-focus eyes are pretty distracting in most portraits.
22. Black and white photography tips for new photographers
Basic photography tips for shooting black and white are really the same as general photographic tips.
Get good exposure, a pleasing composition, and proper focus.
Then edit the image in your post-processing program to convert it to black and white. Some cameras may allow you to convert to B&W in the camera.
23. Street photography tips to consider when you start in photography
Following the tip for beginners above about taking your camera everywhere, one of the best ways to make sense of photography is through street photography.
Lose yourself in your city and pay attention to everything that people overlook when they go from one place to another. This genre sometimes borders on photojournalism, and other times, it is pure art, as we see every year in many WordPressphoto images.
It is important that you always photograph in safe places and follow all the laws of the place where you are, since if you travel, taking street photos may not be as culturally and socially accepted as in your own city.
24. Sports photography tips for amateurs
The best sports photography tip for novice photographers is to learn how to master shutter speed to freeze motion. Make sure you have a lens with a large focal length, preferably a bright one.
In addition, it is essential that you anticipate what is going to happen, in order to capture the peak of action and the decisive moment. With these simple photography tips, you can take good photos of your favorite sports.
25. “Less is more”, the ultimate photography tip for beginners
The photography essentials for beginners and advanced users alike are simple: have a camera, take pictures.
Enjoy all the basic photography tips for beginners, put them to good use, practice, but never lose sight of what drew you to this art and craft in the first place!
A beginner photographer can get bogged down with G.A.S., or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Yes, new equipment is exciting, but there is much more to becoming a good photographer than merely having the latest and greatest stuff.
As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. With a solid understanding of the photography essentials, you can capture incredible images with any camera.
If you can afford the newest gear and that will make you happy, go for it! Digital cameras are constantly improving and making the photographer’s life easier, but never forget that the most important tool is your brain and creativity.
Photography is rewarding and enjoyable. And in some cases, it can even turn into a professional career, which happened to me.
If you’re a beginner in the world of digital photography, take your time to get familiar with your equipment, learn the photography basics, and be constantly open to learning from others and trying out new ideas and techniques. That is basically what it takes to be a good photographer.
The best photography tips for beginners can be summed up in one basic principle: Enjoy your journey! And welcome to the fantastic world of digital photography!
PD. You can learn more photography by downloading our Photography basics PDF guide.