As with any new activity or hobby, you must practice. Photography is not something you can get good at overnight, it’s something you have to work for. After quitting his full-time position, it took Thierry four years and countless images to become a professional. Thierry is a self-taught photographer who “wanted to find [his] freedom and do something more artistic and creative,” which is much of the reason he started educating himself and training. All photographers, whether professional or amateur, have the same goal – to take great pictures. Here we’ve put a list together of 5 simple tips for new photographers to begin mastering the art.
1. Take Advantage of Free Resources
Getting professional help is always recommended when available, however the internet is full of endless resources to help improve your photography skills from the first moment. Sites such as the Digital Photography School or Creative Live offer a number of free resources for beginner and intermediate photographers who are looking to improve their skill levels.
2. Explore your Camera’s Settings
We recently explored the basics of your camera here. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and deactivate your camera’s “auto” setting and play around with the shutter speed, aperture and ISO. By adjusting specific elements of the exposure to create more powerful photographs.
3. Get a Tripod
Whether you have steady hands or not, a tripod will give you stability and the flexibility of framing the right image. Digital Photography School has a great explanation of what they are. The stability of the stand helps to play with different frames and time settings. Many experts recommend investing in a good one from the start so you don’t have to replace multiple cheap ones as the break. If you’re ready to invest in yours, here is a list of some of the top recommended.
4. Set Your Limits
While you may not have any limits to your enthusiasm for learning the tricks of the trade, you will need to establish certain limits as you’re starting off. We’re not saying you limit yourself forever, just establish limits for specific periods to challenge yourself to learn, master and ultimately find your likes and specialties.
In terms of camera and gear, pick ONE camera and only the necessary gear and focus on mastering shots with that one before moving on. You should also try to limit what you’re shooting as well- landscapes, portraits, etc. Depending on the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to your photography, we would recommend 1 week limitations for those who are very dedicated and up to 1 month for those who do not have as much time.
5. Be Curious
You can study photography in school for years and never be a good photographer. Thierry believes that to be curious is the best way to learn and is how he started his path towards becoming a professional photographer. He tried everything, learned from other photographers- examining their pictures and trying to feel what he liked or didn’t like. He even drew inspiration from famous painters such as as Monet, Paul Cezanne, Van Gogh and Leonard de Vinci to create a photography style that was his.
6. Use Your Eyes
For Thierry, this arguably the most important tip that any photographer can learn. Capturing a picture is easy, making a beautiful picture is very difficult because you need many ingredients. Just because you have a great camera, doesn’t mean that you’ll take great pictures you must see what you want to capture before taking the shot.
“…for myself camera is just 5% of my picture, the rest is how to use my eyes to create a story to tell and how to use the light of the scenery and capture everything when my soul and my heart can see it.”
Lastly, we recommend patience. As with any new talent or activity, it can take time to learn, grow and perfect. Don’t get discouraged if your first shots don’t come out ideal, keep adjusting and working towards capturing your ideal image. With time you’ll get it!