What are the best photography tips for beginners?
There isn't an exact science to success in photography and probably every pro photographer will have a variety of photography tips to offer. I certainly don't have the secret recipe. It also depends what one considers being a successful photographer. Some will be happy with an exhibition here and there whilst others will aim to make a living out of their passion.
Here are some of my top photography tips to get you started whatever your aim is:
Carry your camera as often as possible
That's nice and easy. The more you think about taking it with you everywhere the less you'll miss that special shot.
I can't stress that enough.
While you are sitting on your sofa watching TV, another photographer is working harder and getting the jobs that were made for you. Organise yourself, make time for shooting, time for editing, time for posting online, time to work on your website, time to blog, time to promote your work, time to send emails to past clients... It's not easy but it's worth it.
Don’t quit your day job
As tempting as it may be, don't.
I get to speak to many people who try making a living out of photography and trust me, most photographers I know struggle. So although it is entirely possible, for now keep your job, work hard on the photography on the side and gradually increase your photography income until you are satisfied it's time to take the plunge.
I also find that keeping photography part-time means I can choose who I want to work with, I don't perceive it to be a job in a sense that it's never associated with stress, paying bills, horrible clients, etc... This doesn't mean I can't be professional.
A lot of people tell me "Oh you are so lucky to work full time as a photographer" but they are mistaken. I have a full time job as Head of Sales & Marketing in a separate industry and work on my photography outside my 9 to 5. It's essentially 2 jobs and a lot of hard work but at least I have the security of a fixed income from my day job.
Read about photography
There are lots of good photography books and great photography articles online. When I began taking photos and even to this day, when I have a question about something, whether it's the meaning of the word Aperture or how to shoot perfect landscapes, I search online. You have of course to be careful as the Internet is littered with wrong information. But generally it's an easy way to learn.
Don’t shoot to please people
Once again going by my own experience and I think most photographers (although they will deny it), when we began posting on Facebook, Flickr, etc... we craved that recognition. Fair enough, when you start you want to know if people like what you do. Just don't get too caught up in it. Getting likes, comments, re-tweets, being on Flickr Explore... It's all the same, it means nothing. If anything it will reflect your number of followers. On Flickr for example, people like your photos in the hope you will go check out theirs and return the favour. It's pointless.
Don’t think an expensive camera will make you a great photographer
On the other hand people who say the camera doesn't matter are simply repeating what they heard elsewhere. It does matter or we'd all be shooting only on phones. But it's also true that it's not a great camera that will make you a great photographer.
You need to see and develop your observation skills first.
A lot of photographers (probably the same who state the camera doesn't matter) will say it's impossible to teach someone to see.
I completely disagree and you can read more about that here:
Don’t emulate others' work, just be yourself
It is easy to look at too much photography online and forget who you are and what is your style. It's easy to subconsciously copy others work which you like. So take a step back, stop admiring others' work and spend some time just you and your camera, finding the real you and letting it transpire through your photography.
Network and embrace social media
The best way to have fantastic opportunities come your way it to develop the ability to chase them. Nothing will happen if you sit at home doing sweet nothing and feeling sorry for yourself. So get out there, speak to everyone you come across about what you do and what you are passionate about, network in real life (by going to exhibitions, meet-ups...) as well as online. When used properly, social media is an invaluable way to get people to notice you.
Don’t go over the top with Photoshop. Less is more
For heaven's sake don't get caught up in producing way too saturated photos, or HDRs with massive halos around every detail in the photo... It's not cool, it's plain ugly. If you do use tons of effects, then do things with taste.
A Freebie or a thank you go a long way
I have spent the last 3 years doing lots for free and often costing me quite a bit. As a thank you I have given free prints away to people who put me in contact with places to exhibit my work or others who helped me gain exposure through an interview. I have done free photo shoots to develop my portfolio in areas I had no experience in and I have given over 50 prints to date to raise money for charity.
Don’t be a d**k
How could I put it in any other way? Life's too short and unless someone crosses me badly, I try to be nice to everyone I deal with. If I can help anyone in any way then I do. If someone contacts me on Twitter or via email, I generally try hard to reply, even if just to say "Thank you".
I somehow believe in Karma so although I'm not anywhere near perfect, I try not to be known for being a d**k.
I hope you'll find these useful and share them with other people you think may be interested!