Learning photography is a lifelong process.
Even after 40 years of taking photographs, I’m still learning new things every day. And that’s just as it should be.
If I stopped learning new things, photography as a hobby, would become boring and uninspiring.
So, learning a new technique, or trying different genres, or even practicing different compositions becomes part of the photography experience.
If you’re just starting out, and you’re looking for a place to begin, this article will give you a good starting point. Bear in mind, that these tips assume you were using a smartphone, but they’re valid for any camera.
Let’s get on with it!
Smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years, and they can be a great tool for learning the basics of photography. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Understand your smartphone camera:
Familiarize yourself with your phone’s camera settings and features. Most smartphones have built-in camera apps with various modes, such as auto, portrait, panorama, and more. Explore these modes and learn how they affect your photos.
One of the most important aspects of photography is composition. Practice the rule of thirds by dividing your frame into a 3×3 grid and placing your subject at the intersection points. This helps create a balanced and visually appealing image. Also, experiment with different angles and perspectives to add depth and interest to your photos.
Good lighting is crucial for capturing high-quality images. Natural light is often the best choice, so try to take photos during the golden hour (shortly after sunrise or before sunset) when the light is soft and warm. Avoid harsh midday sunlight and be mindful of shadows. If you’re shooting indoors, use window light or additional light sources to illuminate your subject.
4. Focus and exposure:
Tap on your screen to set the focus point and adjust the exposure if needed. Most smartphone cameras allow you to lock the focus and exposure by pressing and holding on the screen. This ensures that your subject remains sharp and well-exposed, even if you recompose the shot.
5. Experiment with manual mode:
If your smartphone camera has a manual or pro mode, use it to gain more control over your settings. Adjust the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to see how they affect your images. This will help you understand the relationship between these settings and improve your photography skills.
Use photo editing apps like Snapseed, Lightroom Mobile, or VSCO to enhance your images. Adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, and other settings to bring out the best in your photos. Remember, less is more when it comes to editing – the goal is to enhance the image, not overpower it.
7. Learning from others:
Follow photographers on social media, join photography groups, and participate in online forums to learn from others and share your work. This will help you stay inspired and motivated to improve your skills.
8. Practice, practice, practice:
The more you shoot, the better you’ll become. Take your smartphone with you everywhere and capture moments that inspire you. Experiment with different subjects, styles, and techniques to find your unique photographic voice.
9. Only judge yourself against yourself:
Don’t be tempted to compare the photographs taken by others, to your own. Aim to just be improving your own images over time.
10. Critique your images:
It’s a good idea to look over the images you’ve taken with the eye of a critic. Instead of just deleting the ones you don’t like, take the time to discover WHY you don’t like them. eg. is the focus off? Is the composition poor? (if so, how could it be better next time?), etc.
Always look for lessons you can learn from.
I realise that these tips seem very simplistic. But, the easiest way to learn photography is just to go do it!
Remember, photography is a journey, and your smartphone is a powerful tool to help you learn and grow as a photographer. Keep practicing, stay curious, and most importantly, have fun!
As you practice, you’ll begin to notice what you like and what areas of photography give you the greatest joy.
Also, remember that photography is an art form. Everyone has a view on what’s good or bad. Not everyone will like what you like… and that’s okay. Your photographs should be pleasing to you. If other people like them, that’s a bonus. But, first and foremost, you should be pleasing yourself.