If you’re looking for some quick n’ easy beginner photography lessons online for free, well you’ve come to the right page. Ya’ see, I’m not going to give you half the goods and then make you cough up your credit card for the rest. Nah, instead I’m going to share with you some of the basics of photography and where to learn more about them so that you get you started off on the right foot. That’s right – free, easy and no cost to you. Now, before we jump into our top 5 tips that I know will push you towards becoming an amazing photographer, I want to give you a quick disclaimer:
This is only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to learning photography. With that said, please take these quick tips, head to YouTube, Google or anywhere else on the web and dive deeper into these subjects… and most of all – practice, practice, practice.
Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, are you ready to dive into it? I knew you’d say yes. Alright then, let’s jam:
Lesson #1: How To Choose The Right Camera
So most of you are probably sitting there right now saying, “But DJ… I already have a camera!” That’s totally fine, but this is an often overlooked aspect new and aspiring photographers gloss over and never look at.
The truth of the matter is that your camera is going to become an extension of YOU. It needs to flow, fit your style and become second nature to use. Because of this, you’re gonna’ need to understand a few things about where you want ultimately want to go with your photography. Some questions to ask yourself may be:
- Do I eventually want to make money from photography?
- Do I just want to learn enough to take good picture of my kids, family and friends?
- What types of situations am I going to be shooting in?
- What types of photography do I think I am going to be drawn to? (landscape, portrait, weddings, etc)
Being able to answer just some of these questions will make it more clear about exactly what type of camera you may need (point and shoot camera, mirrorless, dslr). If you’ve already got a camera – GREAT! Stick with it, but understand that you may need to make a change down the road. For those of you without a camera, answer some of these questions and then begin to research different camera options that are available to you.
Lesson #2: How To Setup Your Camera
Oh, this is a big one. You’ve just picked up that brand new, fancy camera and now you have no clue what to do, am I right? Well, you’re going to need to have some competence about setting up your camera. Since each manufacturer and type of camera is different, I’m about to give you an easy peasy way to become fluent on how to use your camera… and fast!
Ready for it? Well, the answer is:
That’s right, YouTube is one of the quickest and easiest ways to learn everything your camera has to offer as quickly as possible. After a few video tutorials on your exact camera model, I guarantee you are going to have no issues knowing and understanding enough about what the different functions and settings on the camera do. Once you’ve learned the basics, just get out there and start shooting! There’s no better way to really understand the ins and outs of your camera until you practice with it every day and it becomes an extension of yourself.
Lesson #3: Ditch Auto, Shoot Manual
Young grasshopper, you’ll need to ditch the auto mode on your camera some time or another. It’s kinda like taking the training wheels off and finally having the “full experience” of riding your bike on your own. Not only that, but you’re going to find that once you learn the process of being able to shoot in manual mode with your camera, the true world of photography will open up to you. Learning to shoot in manual isn’t difficult, but it takes continual repitition in order to do dial in settings like the back of your hand and not have to think twice about it. Some things you are going to want to research more are topics like:
- How to set custom white balance
- How does shutter speed, aperture and ISO affect eachother?
- Learning different metering modes such as spot, center-weighted and matrix
- How to read the exposure meter within the viewfinder
- How to use manual focus
I’m not gonna’ sugarcoat it for you: in the beginning, shooting in manual is going to suck. It really will, but within a few days time you will start to wonder how you ever did without it. Learn, practice and reap the benefits of being able to understand your camera and how to use it in a manual mode. You’ll not only snap a lot more amazing photos, but you’ll be well on your way to mastering all other parts of photography.
Lesson #4: Understand The Light
This may be a little confusing to some of you, but in order to take the best photos possible, you are going to have to understand how lighting affects your subject or scene. In my opinion, understanding lighting is probably one of the most important aspects of photography. Let me give ya’ a quick example:
Have you ever taken a photo of somebody and the sun was behind them? Do you remember that God-awful scene of them being completely dark, but the background was exposed perfectly? Well, that is a quick showcase of not understanding the light. If you would have flipped the subject around (so the sun was behind you) or put them in a lightly shaded area, you would have had an image that looked 1,000% better.
Here’s a fast exercise you can do to better understand light:
Take a family member or friend outside. Next, have them stand in different lighting conditions such as under a tree, under a home patio or direct sunlight and just watch how light changes your “scene.” You’ll notice times where your subject looks great and then other times where the light is not flattering at all.
Over time, understand how to use light to your advantage is going to benefit you tremendously. I have faith in you being able to master the light, but as with everything else I’ve talked about in this post it’s going to take some hard time and dedication to fully grasp.
Lesson #5: Buying Lenses
Without a doubt, understanding what additional lenses to buy is going to be an important aspect of your photography career. The reason I’ve listed this as #5 on my top tips is because it needs to be the last thing you worry about. Without understanding how to shoot in manual or how to take advantage of different lighting situations, buying additional lenses is useless. On top of that, you’re gonna’ need to understand the type of photography you enjoy the most and what lenses will fit those situations best.
Photography lenses are pretty much broken up into three different categories:
- Consumer grade lenses
Most of your consumer grade lenses are going to come with your camera if you’ve purchased a kit. While these lenses are great starters, you’ll find that they are a “do it all” kinda’ lens, but don’t do anything particularly well. The more you understand and progress in your photography knowledge, the quicker you’ll grow out of these types of lenses. Typically these cost in the $100-500 range, but can definitely be more.
Your prosumer grade lenses are a mix between consumer and pro grade glass. Most of these are going to be over $500, but still lack certain features like special coatings, vibration reduction and more aperture rings for that creamy, bokeh look.
Professional camera lenses are cream of the crop: they’re going to be anywhere from $750 up to thousands of dollars, but they are for the individuals who know what they need to do with photography and want to do it with the best glass possible. Remember, just because you buy a lens that costs $1,800 doesn’t mean you are going to take better photos with it, unless you’ve progressed far enough in your photography learning career to really know why you’re buying it in the first place.
My Final Thoughts
While I’ve given you some basic pointers here, you definitely need to take the time and due diligence to research and learn more about the lessons I’ve given you. Photography is a fun, rewarding hobby (potentially career for some of you), but I won’t stress enough that it’s not something you are going to learn and be amazing at within a few months time. As with anything in this world, it takes hard work, dedication and patience to master your craft, but I promise that once you do, you’ll love it for a lifetime.