Photography is an art. I believe that we as photographers, create a picture through our eyes and imagination. There are ways to learn photography in a way that you understand your camera, lens, equipment, settings, but other than that a lot depends on how you do composition. If two photographers are given the same camera gear and asked to click the same subject in the same scene, the results can never be the same.
I have been doing photography professionally since 2014 and here are my 3 top tips for you, if you are starting in photography as a beginner.
1. Don’t be afraid of Manual: As much easy and friendly AUTO mode sounds and feels, you cannot stay in that mode for a very long time. As soon as you understand the basics of your camera, including basic components like shutter speed, ISO and aperture, it is very essential to move on to Manual mode.
Why? Because you would not want your camera to decide what kind of photo you want to capture, right? You would want to imagine what kind of end result you want. For example, you are clicking an image where you have a foreground, your subject and background in your frame. Now you want to focus on a foreground element in one picture and your main subject in another. Your camera will not be able to figure out what kind of picture you are trying to capture. A camera in Auto mode will click a perfectly lit balanced image, but do you want to click a perfectly balanced image?
When you move to Manual mode, you get in control of how much ISO you want to set, what shutter speed you want, and how blurry you want your background. A lot of photographers, including me, click the image a bit underexposed, keeping in mind the kind of editing we will be doing later on and what kind of final color correction we want to give in the image. All this is possible only when you click in Manual mode. Start slow, master one setting at a time and slowly balance out all the three components to create an image of your liking.
2. Start with what you have: A lot of people ask me what camera gear I use, or seeing my big fancy lens they say, oh that’s a very expensive camera gear, no wonder it clicks such amazing pictures. Ah, as much as it hurts, the truth is, it’s not the camera or the lens that matters, it’s the person behind it using that camera gear.
I started with a crop frame basic Canon camera and a kit lens in 2014 and used this setup for 2 years. Slowly when I started having more funds and projects I bought 2 more prime lenses and then again stayed on the same setup till 2018. It was in 2018 when I switched to a full frame professional camera and it was in 2019 that I bought more high end premium lenses.
My point here is, yes your camera gear does matter, but if you do not master the skill, if you do not learn each setting, if you do not practice, none of these things will enhance the pictures. Start with what budget you have, and even a kit lens works for it. If you can spend a bit extra, I would highly recommend investing in a prime lens. A 50mm prime lens starts from as low as 8-9k and the results are amazing if you are into portraits or family photography.
3. Practice and build a portfolio: There is no alternative to practicing your skills and techniques. No matter how much you read, study, learn online, until and unless you go out and practice by your hands, you will not get that confidence.
In photography, a simple setting may seem doable but actually implementing it is a whole different story. When you practice a setting/technique 3-4 times, your hand would just reach out to those buttons on the camera without even you deliberately putting effort into it. When you are out there doing an actual photoshoot for a client, you don’t get much time to think about where to find what button and change settings, you would want your brain to automatically work upon them.
Last but not the least, before taking paid up shoots, it’s essential to build a portfolio. Having a portfolio helps you market yourself and also gives a fair amount of idea to your clients of what they may expect as the final result. The best way to do that is by taking projects with your friends and family and doing their photoshoot as a gift or minimal fee. This way you get to practice and learn to deal with clients in real time, keeping a safety net by side.