Apr 01 2010

Photography Tips: 5 Tips for Getting Started

Published by at 2:23 am under General

So you’ve just picked up your first SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera. You’ve read the manual and surfed the web, and now you’re ready to start taking photos you’ll be proud to frame on your wall in a stunning black picture frame.  Right?  Sure! But before you hit the pavement with your camera in-hand and film rolls in your bag, take a moment to read over these five tips that can help push your work from great to amazing.

1.  Dump the Flash

While it’s true that professional photographers often do use a flash or complicated light rigs, you shouldn’t need a flash in most lighting conditions. Subjects shot without a flash often look more natural, and you’ll get much greater detail and depth by using natural light. Additionally, getting rid of the flash during your first week will make you a lot more familiar with how your camera works with light- giving you an invaluable skill as a beginning photographer.

2.   Turn Off Auto Focus

There’s no arguing that a camera that auto-focuses is infinitely handy and easy to use. However, focusing on the fly is an important tool in any photographer’s toolbox. Since cameras don’t understand your intent, it’s up to you to make sure you’re focused on the right thing at the right moment. It is incredible how unique and interesting an image can be when you allow the focus to move out of the direct center of the frame, so set this one to manual for a while.

3.  Take a Photo Class

You can buy all the books in the world and browse the internet for days, but the absolute best way to learn about photography is in a hands on environment. Find a class at a community college or local art school and see how understanding photography will improve your work for the better. As a bonus, your photo teacher will likely give you assignments based on individual elements of photography that you probably never considered.

4.  Say Farewell to Color

Before you dive into color, buy a few rolls of T-Max 400 (great B&W film) and see if taking it back to the basics changes your interpretation of the world around you. You know it’s time to upgrade to taking color images when you can print a black and white image that has pure black, pure white and every tone in between. Taking photos in black and white will force your mind to think less about the “image” and more about the importance of how light interacts with the objects in the frame.

5.  Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

This may seem obvious, but if you’re interested in becoming a “great” photographer, you’ll need to shoot lots and lots of photos. The more pictures you take, the better you will get. Photography is often as much about timing and luck as it is skill and equipment. Even “great” photographers only average 3-4 good photos at a time, so don’t worry about taking a lot of images. It’s far worse to miss a shot than take too many! Besides, you’ll only display the really good ones in a picture frame anyways.

There is no great secret to being an amazing photographer. The more you challenge yourself, the better you’ll become. If you start with a firm understanding of how your camera works and what it takes to make a good photograph, the rest will come in time. Your camera will never change, only your ability to manipulate it. So keep your SLR close and extra film or memory card on hand. Never be afraid to experiment with new ideas! And remember: The most important photograph in the world is the one you are about to take. And once you have that fantastic image, don’t forget to share it by displaying it on the wall in a hanging picture frame.

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