When I discovered digital photography after years as a film photographer I wanted to get the best possible camera and other equipment. But, equipment was really the last thing that should have been on my list besides a camera of reasonable quality. What I really needed was to learn the fundamentals of photography. Good photographers take good pictures not cameras. The first thing that any budding photographer needs to learn are the fundamentals of photography starting with the basics. Get these under your belt quickly and you have already won half the battle. So, what needs to happen to get you going as a beginner with your first digital camera? Let’s take a look at my top seven.
It’s not all about equipment. Don’t go rushing out to buy expensive equipment without knowing what you need. A keen salesperson will sell you as far as your wallet or credit card will take you. Wait until you know what you need and what you like and match these desires with the right equipment.
2. Decide on the type of shots you’d like to shoot
A good idea is to browse the internet photo galleries, look in magazines or visit your local library to get an idea of what type of photos you really like. Try it out with your camera and see if you are able to, or want to persevere until you can. Once you’ve made a list plan to go out and shoot on a regular basis. It’s practise that makes perfect. Stick to it until you master your genre. Only then start looking for the equipment to match your area of interest.
3. Decide on a structured learning plan
Find out what you’d like to learn and what you need to learn in order to shoot the type of photos that interest you. For example, macro and nature photography is a more specialised art form and there are a number of techniques and skills to learn, as well as equipment you’ll need to buy. Research it on the internet, read books and if possible take a course on macro or close up photography.
4. Take photos often
If you are not regularly shooting images you are not going to grow in your skills and abilities. Set yourself assignments based on what you are studying. Of course, in a structured course you will be given assignments. A photo a day keeps the creativity flowing and helps you to keep motivated. I did an assignment once taking a 100 photos of the same subject from a host of different angles. It gave my photography an unexpected boost.
5. Learn your camera’s settings
Getting to know your camera is paramount if you want to learn to take great photos and the best way to do this is by reading your manual. Like I should be telling you this. I am the last one who reads a manual. But, if you do it in a structured way you’ll be amazed at how quickly you get to know your camera. The way I did it was to go through the manual highlighting everything I already knew about it. Then I went back through the manual reading up on each section I didn’t know, practising as I went along. Once I got to know it, I was amazed at how much more I could do with my camera. The key is to experiment.
6. Keep your camera with you
Take every opportunity to get a great shot. Whenever you see something that would make a great photo, shoot it. I have often wished that I had taken my camera with me and got an amazing shot. If you don’t have it with you, you won’t get the shot.
7. Buy a tripod
Besides my camera, my tripod is the most important piece of kit in my equipment bag. There are shots you can only get if your camera is steady. The sharpness of your shots will improve dramatically. If the pros use them then why not the amateurs?
As you begin your photography journey, work at learning in a structured way so that the fundamentals of photography become second nature. Photography should be fun but your learning process needs to be serious. Happy shooting!
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