Beginning Photography

"There is little more to beginning photography than deciding to pick up a camera and start shooting!"

Photography contests at county and state fair competitions around the country show a high interest in photographers, but photography may be unnerving for those who don't see themselves as being able to produce such shots.

When you're just starting photography as a hobby, there are some basics as well as times to 'break the rules' - part of gaining experience is learning what the 'rules' are as well as when to break them for a particular reason.

10 Beginning Photography Tips

1. There are a good many books and websites aimed at beginning photography - some that aim to sell you something. Sites like and others have professional and amateur photographers that can offer invaluable experience and feedback to your questions. Many of these great forums and websites are free to join and take part in. Ask questions, share feedback even if just to tell someone you loved a photo they posted.

2. Find photographers that you like. If there is a photographer that you find a like for their work, attempt to imitate some of their techniques with your own vision. Check calendars, photography books and even your interests for photography tips on pets or horses or children - or any other subject! Look at books and catalogs for ideas of how to frame and shoot photos on your favorite subjects.

3. Use the "rule of thirds" especially in beginning photography shooting. Be it horizontal or vertical make an imaginary grid in your viewfinder and rather than center your shots have a focal point about 1/3 of the way up. This might be a branch along the bottom of a shot of a bird or a tree on one side of a scenic photo. This breaks up your photo slightly. As you experiment you may find a personal preference.

4. Learn to use lighting. Natural light is great but learn to shoot with other forms of light including delayed exposure shots (use a tripod!) at the moon or stars, backlit photos that can give a silhouette effect or candle light. Shoot in the morning and in the afternoon to see the difference in lighting. Experiment with light settings manually.

5. Many beginning photography lists ignore color. Embrace color! From the bright red of a cardinal in the snow to the gold of the trees as they turn to the rainbow of colors in a flower bed color can make photos sparkle. Look for contrasts and those that blend together. Seek out patterns in nature from stripes to spots. Take a day to go to the zoo and experiment with photos of tigers, zebras, leopards and giraffes to capture patterns in nature. As you start to see this it can bring seeing even more in the rocks, tree branches and other aspects of nature. Compare colors from bright sunlight to afternoon sun that can sometimes impart a golden color.

6. Use the settings your camera has. From macro (close up) shots of flowers to larger wide angle scenic shots of landscapes experiment and challenge yourself! This is the surest way to stretch your talents. Get a new look to feathers, the bark of trees and fabrics in the home.

7. Experiment with action photography. Modern cameras make this part of beginning photography easier than ever. Whether it's the children riding their bike or playing with the dog work on capturing motion in one moment of time. Go to a rodeo, car race or other activity and work on getting motion captured. By 'looking' at one competitor and 'following' it with the camera you are more apt to get that awesome shot.

8. Capture textures. Beginning photography can mean seeing things in a new way. The velvet look of a flower, the texture of a rusted area or the layered look that can occur in nature or man made. Wool, steel, bark of trees and even textures in the grains of our food all can offer challenges to capture both close up and from a distance.

9. Experiment with a favorite subject. For example, if you enjoy nature find one particular aspect of nature - perhaps clouds or trees or plants - and spend a month or two taking a different photo each day. Use different perspectives - above a garden or at ground level looking up at a flower.

10. Don't be afraid to take classes from a professional, either directly or through many community colleges during fall or spring class schedules. This can not only expand your experience but also serve as feedback and in-person expertise to help you take better photos. Classes aren't just for professionals!

Beginning photography is a step towards a rewarding hobby that documents life in many forms. When you capture the glow of a sunrise and the look of a child towards his puppy it is a glimpse at your life.

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