Learning Photography on Your Own

Learning Photography on Your Own

We live during a time where a lot of great content is available to us. Professional photographers have their own courses, Youtube is full of inspiring photographers sharing their knowledge, and it hasn’t been easier to learn a new skill. 

However, as we all know, having information available isn’t enough. We need structure and practice to actually master a skill. That’s why not many people actually follow through their dreams. This article is a step by step guide that will help you learn photography on your own. 

Whether you want to learn how to use a DSLR camera or simply take better pictures on your iPhone, here are 5 main tips that will help you to get started. 

Create a Moodboard

The first time you go on the Internet and start trying to learn a new skill, it can most definitely be an overwhelming experience. That’s why you need a plan. 

As your own teacher, you have the advantage of creating a personalized plan. Thus, hit Instagram, Pinterest, and spend at least an hour (or hopefully more) exploring and looking for different photography styles that you like. Match those images together to figure out which ones actually blow your mind. 

Once you do so, break it down. Carefully look at the image and decide what is the actual thing that looks great to you. Let’s say it’s a portrait that has a blurry background and you are wondering how to achieve that. Or maybe it’s the color scheme that draws your eye. 

Write Down a List of All the Things You Want to Learn 

You will add things to the list as you go. Because it is so easy to get distracted, you will need a plan. It doesn’t have to be the plan of the year. However, you will still need to have at least some sort of direction.

Here is a list of 20 photography basics that you need to know: 

  1. Explore camera settings (e.g. shoot in RAW)
  2. Exposure triangle (learn how to shoot manual) 
  3. ISO (lower ISO is better in most cases but there has to be a balance)
  4. Aperture (wide aperture is best for portraits, a narrow aperture is best for landscapes)
  5. Shutterspeed
  6. Metering (decide what is correct shutter speed and aperture according to ISO)
  7. Composition (rule of thirds, center composition, 
  8. Lighting (at least try to shoot during sunrise and sunset)
  9. Studio lighting (learn how to play with the shadows)
  10. Color scheme
  11. Perspective (play with the perspective)
  12. Focus (eyes should always be in focus)
  13. Histograms (review of the exposure)
  14. White balance (change the color cast of the entire photo)
  15. Cropping (e.g. don’t crop people on their joints)
  16. Editing (Lightroom Presets are a great way to start to learn the way around your colors, clarity, and style) 
  17. Visual weight (objects size and weight looks different through a lens than we logically know it)
  18. Shapes (for example, triangles are great compositional tools) 
  19. Eye-lines (we will instinctively be drawn to look at where people or animals are looking)
  20. Balance
  21. Camera modes

Youtube is Your Friend

Youtube is a great teacher because photography is a visual art. Simply by watching how other photographers work, you can learn so much. Sorelle Amore, Mango Street, Jessica Kobeissi, and Peter McKinnon. They are just a couple of photographers that inspired me and that could inspire you to take better, more interesting photos.  

Online Photography Courses 

Online courses are great because they give all you the needed information systematically. With the help of the Internet, you can learn from the world’s best photographers. Udemy is a great place to start. The courses aren’t expensive and you can most definitely find quality courses that will open your horizons to professional photography. 

Become a Photographer’s Assistant

Feedback is an extremely important part of the learning process. Find a local photographer whose work you genuinely admire and ask for an internship. The more open you will be to the feedback, the more you will learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get the most out of this experience.

Hit the Streets

No matter who is your teacher or how good you are at taking notes, photography only gets better if you take more pictures. No matter how you choose to learn, everything has to be turned into practice or it will simply not work. Only by taking your own photos, you will consistently get better and better and start to notice the patterns that make exceptional photography. 

Even if you just take some photos on your iPhone, you can still test out the learned principles. If somebody can take great photos with an iPhone, they will most definitely stunning photos with a DSLR. 

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