Thursday, March 8, 2012

11 Tips for Beginner Photographers

If you're anything like me, you're always looking for great ideas and suggestions to help capture that perfect photo....without having to go out and drop a nice chunk of change on one of those fancy shmancy cameras.  Why shouldn't I be able to capture great pics on my point and shoot, right?  Well, the folks at have given us 11 tips for beginners and I have to admit, I got sucked in after reading #1.  It's like the author was speaking directly to me....trying to make me feel better about demanding that my $80 piece of equipment to give me beautiful photos.  Let's jump on in and break it all down, shall we?!

#1 Don’t go crazy buying the most expensive equipment right away.

"It’s possible to get very nice photos with an inexpensive point and shoot. See these examples on Flickr. The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of camera to get when it’s time to upgrade."

See?  What did I tell you........this      File:U+2191.svgFile:U+2191.svgFile:U+2191.svgFile:U+2191.svgFile:U+2191.svgFile:U+2191.svg    IS good enough! (We will just ignore that "right away" part for....well, probably for ever in my case.)

2. Consider a tripod.

On the other hand, an inexpensive tripod is worth getting, especially if you have shaky hands like mine. When I got a tripod, my satisfaction with my shots skyrocketed. For even more stability, use your camera’s timer function with a tripod (read our introduction to tripods).

This I totally agree with.... see below for case and point.  This could have been an absolutely adorable shot had it not been for my shaky, over caffinated, hand.

3. Keep your camera with you all the time.

Photo ops often come when you least expect it. If you can keep your equipment relatively simple – just a small camera bag and a tripod – you might be able to take advantage of some of those unexpected opportunities. Or, if your phone has a camera, use it to take “notes” on scenes you’d like to return to with your regular camera.

....and if I can't take advantage of some of those opportunities, I'm sure I'll find out later that one of my little monkeys has!  That's right folks....I'm breeding future professional photographers here!

4. Make a list of shots you’d like to get.

For those times you can’t carry your camera around, keep a small notebook to jot down places you’d like to come back and photograph. Make sure to note any important details, like the lighting, so you can come back at the same time of day or when the weather’s right. If you don’t want to carry a notebook, send yourself an email using your cell phone with

My list of shots I'd like to get:
Vodka, Tequila, Whiskey.....Oh, right, back to photography.

5. Don’t overlook mundane subjects for photography.

You might not see anything interesting to photograph in your living room or your backyard, but try looking at familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. You might catch an interesting trick of the light or find some unexpected wildflowers in your yard. Often a simple subject makes the best shot.

Fresh eyes???  Obviously this writer doesn't have kids....we'll move on.

6. Enjoy the learning process.

The best part of having a hobby like photography is never running out of things to learn. Inspiration is all around you. Look at everything with the eyes of a photographer and you’ll see opportunities you never noticed before.

7. Take advantage of free resources to learn.

Browse through Flickr or websites like the Digital Photography School Forum for inspiration and tips. Also, your local library probably has a wealth of books on all types of photography. If you’re interested in learning about post-processing, give free software like the GIMP a try.

...Yeah, he lost me at "post-processing"....

8. Experiment with your camera’s settings.

Your point and shoot may be more flexible and powerful than you know. Read the manual for help deciphering all those little symbols. As you explore, try shooting your subjects with multiple settings to learn what effects you like. When you’re looking at your photos on a computer, you can check the EXIF data (usually in the file’s properties) to recall the settings you used.

Read the manual?  Nah, It's 2012....I'll just ask my 5 year old.  I'm sure he can explain all the buttons to me.  What?  Don't have a 5 year old?  Well, maybe this little resource from Cameras for Kids will help.

9. Learn the basic rules.

The amount of information about photography online can be overwhelming. Start with a few articles on composition. Be open to what more experienced photographers have to say about technique. You have to know the rules before you can break them.

10. Take photos regularly.

Try to photograph something every day. If you can’t do that, make sure you take time to practice regularly, so you don’t forget what you’ve learned. 

And lastly.....

11. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

If you’re using a digital camera, the cost of errors is free. Go crazy – you might end up with something you like. You’ll certainly learn a lot in the process.

This is my favorite tip because it finally gives me justification for my "crazy photo snapping".....If you were to ask my hubby, he would tell you that I am a mad snapper. (Not sure exactly what that means, but I'm sure one day he'll explain it!) But I have to admit...without the fanatical snapping of pictures, I would have missed out on some of my favorite pictures.  And, because I know you're just dying to know which one's they are....I posted them below.   Yeah, you're welcome. ;-)

All in all, this is one of the better lists of tips that I have come across for the true beginner.  Do you have any other tips to add to the list?  If so, leave them in the comments below.  I would love to hear how you captured some of YOUR favorite moments!