Taking great pictures yourself – intimidating? Not any longer! With these photography tips and the equipment you already have you can be a passionate photographer! –
I sift through the massive amount of photos before me. My daughter’s baby album is still not finished and I really can’t find any images that are not blurred or out of focus.
Gritting my teeth I realize I have to use them because I just cannot go back in time and take better ones. My little one will see her early life captured in a set of blurs of colors and fuzzy faces.
I’m the world’s lousiest photographer. All my pictures end up crappy. I just wasn’t made for this and my camera is stupid anyway.
Of course, it’s always the camera’s fault!
I went to buy my first DSLR. A fancy camera will automatically fix this issue, I assumed. No need for photography tips.
Choose auto, point, shoot. Right?
A Painful Start With Photography
What a disappointment! The camera chose weird things to focus on rather than my little one and my girl was moving too fast to get caught.
My new fancy camera would sit in the dresser and be pulled out only for family gatherings and such.
Then I would use the “shotgun method” for the completely clueless photographer: I made a lot of pictures and hoped that in the end, one out of ten (or thirty) would be nice. That way I made two or three good pictures on one of these occasions. It was a nightmare to sift through my output to find these golden shots.
Can you relate? Do you worry about investing a ton of your time and money to finally take better pictures?
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Work With What You Got – Photography Tips for Any Cam
I always told myself I couldn’t take great pictures because I had no fancy equipment. In addition, my mobile phone’s memory card was full all the time .
If your phone’s camera is all you got, then make the most of it. Even if you do have a great camera maybe one day you see something beautiful and all you have with you is your phone.
There are tons photography tips, free online tutorials, or even videos, that help you make the most of your phone cam. Just browse the interwebz and you will have something to start with in minutes.
Look at this post at Two Twenty One about Favorite Phone Camera Apps and Tips. What she is doing with her iPhone camera impresses me. Even National Geographic has a tutorial on how to take great pictures with a phone camera. The post comes with a photo gallery and is worth reading for anyone interested in taking better pictures. In this post on how to take great pictures using a phone camera professional photographer John Bosley shares detailed expert advice (and some impressive examples).
Then, use an app like the free If this then that (IFTTT) App to automate saving the photo files to your computer or a service like dropbox. Just tell the app what to do.
If you have a digital point and shoot camera you will find lots of online tutorials to make the most of your equipment. Maybe dig out the manual, too, or consult the manufacturer’s website for more material and photography tips for your type.
Get Some Equipment To Make Photographer’s Life Easier
You may want to take some videos with your phone without making your viewers dizzy with a shaking view. Get yourself a phone stand or mini tripod instead.
You will also need a tripod if you want to shoot with a longer exposure time. Use your camera’s automatic delay release or a remote control for maximum stability. If you try to do this with the camera in your hands you will end up with blurred pictures.
My tripod was 20 bucks cheap in an electronic store. So now I feel horrible anytime my fancy camera sits on top of that shaky thing. I suggest you invest in something better right from the start.
If you are anything like me loading pics from your camera to a computer totally annoys you! Solve this issue by using a WIFI memory card with your camera. It will automatically sync with your computer in your WIFI area. Some come with a corresponding app that has your pictures send to your phone so that you can share them on social media while on the go.
Make sure to have your pictures in more than one place. After a total loss of all my pictures because of a hard drive crash, I always back up my photos in Google Picasa.
Learn More: Getting Started With A DSLR Camera
Once you decide to go with a DSLR camera commit to make the most of your cam, even if you have a beginners model and only one lens. Consider expensive hardware upgrades only after you mastered the pieces you got.
Use the provided handbook, start with chapter 1.01, and work your way through it. I know it feels overwhelming and intimidating at first. Start with learning how to switch the thing on and off, how to put the lens on and off properly, how to hold a DSLR camera, etc. We all start there.
Check out the additional resources your camera manufacturer provides. My camera came with a hard copy handbook, another digital in the camera and an app with tutorials and little assessments based on your skill level.
I started taking pictures without even looking at any of these. That was stupid.
My Go To Book For Raw Recruits
The first (50 $) book on photography tips I got was too hard for me and I found myself struggling with the very first assessment already because the authors assumed that the reader (me) was already familiar with his camera’s features though it was supposed to be a beginners book.
Then, I got the “Say No to Auto” beginner’s book on DSLR photography and really liked the way it works. After purchasing the 10$ ebook, I downloaded it as a zip file which contains 17 sides (or reference cards). As the author, Kristen Duke, suggests I had them printed in a 4×6 format in a copy shop and put them in a mini photo album. It took me about 10 minutes to go through the introduction and first steps. I wanted to try this VERY easy to follow guide immediately, took out my camera and did a lot of test shoots on my cat while my little one was sleeping.
I was taking better pictures in 15 minutes!
Next object was my little one playing with a necklace I gave her to keep her busy. I was thrilled that for the first time I felt like I had a little control on how a photo would turn out instead of just “shotgun shoot” and hope for the best. For more from Kristen Duke, you can check out her blog on photography and family life here.
Another book for clueless photographer
.. is the A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book. I stumbled upon this book and was hooked because a friend of mine loves the food section of the blog A Beautiful Mess created by two sisters. This book is not about technical photography tips but about fresh ideas what to take photos of. People like me
need love inspiration and this book gives you some great suggestions for lovely pictures of your life. I bought my copy used and for a song. You can check out more tips on photography here on the blog. They also have a free photo editing app (A color story) and beginners DSLR photo online class.
An Online Library for Photography Tips for Beginners, Intermediates and Advanced
Photography Life is a website that has published pretty much everything about photography using a DSLR camera (but also other systems, including phone cams). Their articles start with “How to buy your first DSLR camera” or “How to hold your camera” but also cover light, composure, trouble shooting, example setups, and more. Check out their compilation of useful posts for beginners here. You will find photography tips for any level or interest.
Easy Photo Editing For Dum… eh.. Everyone
I ignored photo editing a long time. When I liked a photo I printed it. Period.
When I wanted to do a little something with my photos I looked online and found a tutorial on how to edit photos in Fotojet. I use the free basic version of this online tool and am very happy with it. You can edit the picture, crop it, use overlays and texts, create collages, etc. I go through my super simple photo editing process with failproof step-by-step instructions in this post.
Learn how To Create Stunning Collage Images with Fotojet for free in this step-by-step picture tutorial.
Canva is another free online tool for basic graphic design. I used it to make my logo. It comes with a lot of photo editing features, too, and has many templates to use.
Of course, there are lots of photo editing apps, too. Graphic designer Lauren of Restored316 recommends the free app A Color Story by A Beautiful Mess (see above) as her “favorite” one. It is available for iPhone and Android.
Should You Take A Photo Course?
You can always learn the most from a real person. That’s why I would love to take a photo class one day. In my town, there are photo workshops in the zoo and I definitely plan to do one in summer. Hello, King Julien!
An online photo course is a great alternative because most of them are self-paced. In addition, you will have a larger class to be part of and in the best case an active online community to motivate each other and share experiences.
Click here to access a free 4-part video training to taking better pictures!
I would check out the one’s by A beautiful Mess (see above, reasonably priced), Kristen Duke (mentioned above) and Click, Love, Grow, which was recommended to me by Sarah Titus. Check out the guest post of Louise of Click, Love, Grow on how to take great family pictures with the camera you already own.
I suggest considering a photography class if you …
- have practiced a lot on your own already
- have put in some time and effort to get to know your camera
- want to take your photography to the next level
- have special interests like photography for blogs, food photography, etc.
- are stuck with learning on your own
- enjoy the learning setting of a class and the exchange with other students
- would love to have a professional “at your service” for all your photography questions
- know that you learn better in class than alone
I know, that was a lot.
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Pick out what is most relevant to you right now. And start from there. Today.
With a few photography tips, you can start taking better pictures right now. Do not let pass memories become just blurs of colors. Instead, capture them in stunning, beautiful photographs – that are taken by you!
Where do you go from here? Take the quizz and find out: