Photography is an incredibly rewarding and enjoyable hobby or profession to get into. But when you’re starting out it can seem daunting. There are so many things to learn, decisions to make, not to mention software to master as well. But the good news is that most people face the same fear when they first glance into the world of photography, so you are not alone. Almost everyone over time, with practice and dedication, will learn and improve. Here are seven tips to help you learn photography better.
1 – Set up a learning plan
The first step in learning any new skill is having a plan, so you know exactly how to achieve your goals. Set yourself a timeline, and even an agenda, of how and where you are going to learn. Dedicate specific times in the week to ensure that you are regularly learning and improving. A big part of the planning you do at the start should also be to get yourself organized, and break everything down into small achievable goals. Ask yourself:
- What am I hoping to achieve (i.e. is this a new hobby, or a new business)?
- What steps do I need to go through to achieve that goal?
- How am I going to find the necessary learning tools to achieve my goals?
By being organized and prepared at the start, you will be far less daunted and less likely to give up.
2 – Find a good course or tutor
Sometimes there is no substitute for classroom learning. Having to answer to someone will usually nudge you to work harder, and ensure that you are keeping up with the tasks that are set. But also, it will mean you will be less likely to make excuses to yourself, and not do the work. The great news is that there are plenty of options out there, everything from online or community college courses, all the way to actually hiring a photographer to teach you. The key is to do your research, and make sure that you find something that is right for you.
3 – Be inspired by others
This is true in any profession, but even more so in any form of creative business. The more you surround yourself with people and work that you admire, the more likely you are to put in the hard work to improve. So follow photographers whose work you like, buy photography journals and books, and hang great photos in your office space. All of this will ensure that you have something to kick you into working and learning when things become difficult. Don’t forget that you can always contact photographers whose work you like for tips and advice. Most would be more than happy to help via email – sometimes for free.
4 – Practice as much as possible
Books, videos, and the internet are a great source of learning these days, but there’s no substitute for practice when it comes to photography. The more you practice and photograph, the better you will become. But at the start it’s always worth trying to practice what you may struggle with. Set yourself photography goals, then dedicate time to mastering them by going and doing the photography, reviewing your images, learning from your mistakes, and then redoing it all over again until you are confident and happy with the results.
For example, if you struggle with photographing people because you are shy, set yourself a goal that you will approach one person every time you go out to shoot, and take their picture. Then once you can do that, make it two people, and so on, until it become easy for you.
5 – Learn post processing
There is always a great debate about whether photos should be altered in post-production or not. Purists will say no, you should capture photos at the time of photography, as that is the skill. Then there are those who can transform a photo into something completely different in post-production. There’s no right answer here, and it really comes down to personal preference, the time you have for post-production, how much you enjoy that element of photography, and ultimately what you plan to do with the photos.
The majority of people who take photos are probably somewhere in between, in that they do enhance photos with some level of post-production. Usually this is basic manipulation of things like highlights, shadows, contrast, saturation, cropping, and small amount of retouching. Whatever your personal preference, any photo will usually benefit from some level of post-production, so make it a goal to learn the software you will be using. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are the standard software that most photographers use, and there are plenty of paid and unpaid options for learning as much about them as you want.
6 – Read your user manuals
It might seem tedious, but user manuals are actually a great source of learning for any camera equipment, and I believe are a must read, whenever you get a new piece of photography gear. After all, how can you capture great photos if you don’t fully understand how to use the equipment? So always make time to read your user manuals and practice while reading the different elements. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn just from reading your camera manual for example.
7 – Have fun
The process of learning a new skill should always be fun and enjoyable, as you will be far more inclined to stick to it and work hard, if you enjoy what you are doing. So don’t forget to try to have fun with it. Experiment, take photos that make you smile, team up with other people who share your passion, and you will find the whole process of learning much easier.
It’s never been easier to learn photography than in this digital era. There is a wealth of sources and information to help you to progress in this rewarding art. But as with learning any new skill, it requires commitment and hard work to master.
Do you have any other tips that helped you overcome your photography learning struggles? Please share them in the comments below.