Everyone starts from somewhere! If we could go back and tell ourselves what we know now, there’s plenty of advice we could give ourselves. Beginning your journey with photography is really quite a process. Whether you already know these things or you’re just starting out and you want to know a little bit more before you dive in, here are 10 things I wish I knew when I started photography.
1. Perfection is Objective
It’s really easy to compare your work to others and criticize yourself. The important thing to remember is that as long as you know how to use your camera, there’s not really a wrong way to take a photo! You could ask a bunch of successful professional photographers to come photograph the same subject, but all of them would do it differently and all of them would probably be great in their own way!
2. Master Manual Mode
Manual mode is one of the most important things that you should know as you begin your photography journey. When you first pick up that camera, it may be tempting to just keep it set to auto mode and start shooting right away. However, auto mode really limits what you can do with that camera. Manual mode will give you full creative control of your photos. You’ll be able to get your camera to do things that you’ve always wanted it to do. Learning to adjust your ISO, aperture and shutter speed will allow you to achieve the best possible photos that you can!
3. Never Stop Learning
The more you know, the more you can do. When you’re just starting out, don’t limit yourself to just one genre. Get creative and try to shoot different kinds of photos. You never know when you might discover a new interest! Maybe you’re a portrait photographer who happens to also love food photography. Practice will only improve what you’re capable of! Don’t ever deny yourself the opportunity to learn more! Maybe even attend a photography class!
4. Shoot in RAW
Forget JPEG! That photo format processes and compresses your image and loses some of the photo’s detail while doing so. RAW files never do that and thus allow you to produce the highest quality images. This will allow you to make better and more accurate edits in post production. Your camera applied a lot more edits to your photo before it saves the JPEG file. If you want to see your image as it is when you take it, RAW images are the way to go!
5. Make Editing As Easy As Possible
Sometimes you might be a little lazy when you’re taking a photo and not adjust your settings to the point where they should be because you think you can just “fix it in post.” This actually just makes your entire process longer. It’s a lot smarter to take the photos as close to the result you want as possible. You should aim for short editing sessions and try to get as much work done for the photo as its being taken! You’ll thank us once you realize that this saves you hours and hours of editing.
6. Your Gear Isn’t That Important
As a new photographer, you might find yourself getting distracted by fancy new equipment or a brand new lens. The truth is, your equipment really doesn’t matter. You can achieve great photos with your trusty DSLR and the lens that it came with! Practice is what makes your photos better. YOU are the person behind the camera and you have the ability to take great photos. Just keep practicing with what you already have on hand until you truly feel like it might be time for a new lens.
7. Always Carry An Extra Battery
Once of the worst things that can happen to you as a photographer is finding yourself at the perfect place and time for amazing photos when all of a sudden, your battery is dead. It might feel like the end of the world! Avoid this at all costs by keeping an extra, charged battery with you any time you go out with your camera and the intent to take photos!
8. Get To Know Your Camera
Just as you would with anyone who’s important to you, get to know your camera! If you plan on maintaining a long, happy and successful relationship with your camera, you should definitely invest some time in learning about what every button does and what you can do with all of the available settings. Your camera can probably do a lot more than you think it can, and the more you know, the more you can use these functions to create the best photo experience for yourself.
9. Organize & Back Up Your Photos
If you just have all your photos saved in a single folder on your desktop, that is definitely going to be an issue. Organization is key! You can use Lightroom to organize your files, or you can create an entire well-organized folder structure on a hard drive! As long as you can access your photos and you know where to find them, go ahead and use whatever method works for you. Additionally, you should keep a safe back up of all of your photos just in case something happens to go wrong. An option of that could just be a copy of your hard drive that you don’t work off of and is just for safe keeping. As you find yourself with a collection of photos, you’ll be thankful that you stored them smartly.
10. Listen To Critiques
Although it may sometimes be hard to hear, it is important that you listen to critiques and feedback. Remember that everyone can offer some useful information and you might get the best ideas from a place where you least expected it. Someone’s critique, even if negative, might inspire you to improve upon a skill or start a new photo series! By being open to feedback from others, you’re allowing yourself to think critically about your own work in a productive manner. Take what you learn from critiques and apply it to your next photo shoot!