Photography for beginners

I wrote about my own photographic journey last year, but I’ve only ever given advice when someone has asked for it. After spending a day with my trusty Lomo LC-A and comparing notes with a friend on Twitter who was wondering why her shots always ended up disappointing, I decided to jot down a few things that I’ve learned over the last few years. So, if you’re a beginner and want to start giving your photographs a bit more consideration, here are a few things that might help.

Ice cream van on the South Bank, taken by lipstickloriFirst of all, remember that you don’t have to have amazing equipment to shoot a good photo. Just learn more about the camera you have and, once you know its limitations, you will be able to get better shots. Most people realise that adding ‘effects’ can give cameraphone shots more depth, but things like walking right up to the subject instead of using your digital zoom also help a massive amount. Take lots of photos and learn from your mistakes, and also look at shots you like to work out why you like them. Join Flickr, share your images, join groups, ask questions, take up challenges… it all helps and the learning sinks in when you’re having fun!

Next, take a bit of time to learn a bit about how your camera works, as this will help you understand how it sees things (the three elements that make up an image are very useful). Check the instructions to see how to change the white balance, then make sure it’s set up properly so that your shots don’t have an ugly colour cast. Remember that you can focus on something by pushing the shutter release down halfway, then recompose the shot before taking it (e.g. so your subject doesn’t have to be in the middle of the frame). Also, don’t snap so fast that the autofocus doesn’t have time to kick in! Oh, and switch off the automatic flash because it doesn’t actually reach very far. You should always try a shot without it first, just to see what happens. I’ve seen people snap through windows or at concerts with the flash on and wonder why their shot won’t come out.

On the beack at Seahouses, taken by lipstickloriAs far as composition goes, as I briefly mentioned in the last paragraph, don’t frame everything in the centre. The rule of thirds is useful to know, but remember that you can break it and still get great shots. Don’t be afraid to get in close and fill the frame with your subject, but always physically get closer rather than using the zoom wherever possible. Also, go for a different viewpoint occasionally to mix things up. Look down, look up or shoot from the hip to get something a little bit different. If you don’t try, you’ll never know what works.

The 10 golden rules of Lomography are a great start to get you enjoying taking photographs and realising that it’s not the end of the world when they don’t come out. Sometimes shots don’t work, and that’s OK too.

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