I always had an interest in photography. I spent hours in high school experimenting with my Nikon CoolPix camera. During the past few years, I spent a lot of free time browsing the photography sections of tumblr,Pinterest, and Instagram in complete awe and astonishment. To say that I admired the work of photographers around the world is probably an understatement. I was (and continue to be) obsessed with photography, especially with landscape and nature photography. Now that I have my blog, I love taking photos for it as well.
Could I produce my own beautiful photos? If that is what I wanted to devote my time to, then of course I could. It was not soon after this realization that I decided to pursue photography more seriously as a hobby. My husband bought me my first DSLR camera as a gift for Christmas in 2016. From that point forward, I devoted myself to learning everything I could about this incredibly diverse and rewarding art form. Whether you are a blogger or just want to take better photos of your family, spending time to learn the basics of photography can drastically improve your skills and contribute greatly to the quality of your photos.
Once I got my hands on a DSLR camera, here are some of the most important steps I took to learn everything I could about the hobby. I am in no way a professional photographer at all. In fact, I am still fairly new to the hobby. However, this is a fantastic list of resources that have helped me learn a lot within the past few years.
Learning the Basics of Photography? 7 Tools that Will Help
1. Online Courses
Lets be realistic y’all. In today’s day and age you can pretty much learn anything you want online. Of course a quick search will reveal ample photography courses that can be completed online and at your own convenience. When I first got my camera this was one of the first things that I did to start learning the basics of photography. I used lynda.com to access a variety of photography courses taught by professionals in the field. Lynda.com is an incredible website that gives you access to videos and courses on a variety of useful subjects. Unfortunately, there is a fee to use lynda.com. Luckily, I have free access to the website through my college. However, I would pay the fee in a heartbeat now that I am privy to the knowledge about how excellent the courses on this site truly are, especially when you pay close attention to them.
Not only can you learn the basics or even advanced features of photography, but you can also learn how to use popular editing tools such as Lightroom and Photoshop. If you are going to pay to use lynda.com, I highly suggest using Ebates to receive 10% cash back on your purchase – I mean, who doesn’t receiving cash back for purchases you were going to make anyway $ !? If you are not interested in paying for access to online courses, there are loads of free options online to choose from. Check out this awesome list for some suggestions.
2. YouTube Videos
While the structure of courses can be incredibly helpful, there is a whole world of photography videos easily accessible through YouTube. Many photographers from hobbyists to full-blown professionals post videos online teaching their knowledge of photography. The great thing about YouTube is that you can watch videos from a variety of different sources and get several unique perspectives on the topic you are interested in learning. Perhaps one person explains a photography concept, but you don’t completely comprehend it right away.
Odds are that if you click on a few more videos, you will stumble upon another youtuber that explains the concepts in a way you understand. YouTube is also a good option if you are looking for something a little less formal and more relaxed than an online course. I also find product review videos incredibly helpful when I am making a purchasing decision regarding photography.
Here are some of my favorite YouTube photographers to get you started on your search:
- Mango Street (my current favorite)
- Tony & Chelsea Northrup
- Thomas Heaton
- Improve Photography
- Peter McKinnon
There are literally SO many more great and informative people sharing photography tips and lessons on YouTube every single day. These are just some of my favorites. If there is someone that you LOVE that is not on here, let us know in the comments!
3. Library Books
PSA: Your local library is filled with loads of information on pretty much any topic imaginable including photography. Sometimes I forget how useful libraries really are. One thing I love about informative books is that they are generally all inclusive. There is just so much information packed into the pages waiting to be absorbed by one lucky learner. Personally, I retain information a lot more clearly when I read it in a book rather than online anyway.
A quick look in the hobby section of your local library may reveal a plethora of useful information for all types of photography hobbyists and even those looking to launch their very own photography business. I loved reading helpful tips and information from professional photographers in several different areas. I found books to be really helpful in learning about the different types of equipment that photographers use on a daily basis.
Here are some suggested books on photography that are worth looking into:
4. Friends / Facebook Groups
If you have any friends interested in photography, it would be a great idea to shadow these people and ask them for advice when you are first starting out. However, not everyone is lucky enough to have friends that are interested in photography as much as they are. Or, sometimes those friends just aren’t available. Whatever the case may be, you can have all your photography questions answered within a few minutes by reaching out to the world wide web. By this, I mean there are groups on Facebook you can join that are dedicated solely to the purpose of photography. If you are struggling with something, you can find someone who is willing to help in a matter of seconds. You can even post pictures and have them critiqued (which, I think, is excellent for when you are teaching yourself to edit photos).
You may also want to use Facebook to search or local photography groups in your area. Try searching for groups such as “(your location) photographers” or something of the sort. If you live in a fairly populated area, there is likely already a group created consisting of photographers in your local area. This will provide for some great networking opportunities, new discoveries, and possibly even new friends.
5. Photography Blogs
I. love. reading. photography. blogs. These are great ways to get inspired and listen to what other people are finding success in. Unlike books, blogs are current and constantly updated. You can be the first to discover new tips and tricks or skills to learn just by following a couple of blogs. Additionally, you can hear from a variety of different people with different backgrounds. Lastly, blogs are great resources for learning about new camera equipment that you may be considering buying. Here is a list of some awesome photography blogs for you to check out:
- FStoppers (such a great place to get started 🙂 )
- Peta Pixel
- Digital Photography School
- Creative Live (also great for other art forms)
- Photo Focus
These are some great places to start. Of course, a quick search on the web will reveal loads of more blogs for you to check out!
6. College or Professional Course
If you are serious about learning photography, you could always check out your local college or photography studio and see if they are offering any courses to teach beginners photography. This may be a better option for someone who needs a little extra motivation to be persistent with the hobby. Or, it may be a good option for someone who learns better in groups rather than on their own. By enrolling in a professional course, you will also meet other beginner photographers in your local area. You may be able to help each other out along your journey. It is always great to have someone at the same level of knowledge as you so you can grow and learn together. Additionally, a college course is a great way to challenge your skills as a learner with weekly assignments and tests.
7. Trial & Error
Odds are, if you have tried any of the above solutions for learning photography, you may have already heard that trial and error is a great way to learn. Today, I am going to jump on the bandwagon and say that this is indeed true. You can watch all the videos you want about using your camera, but in order to be comfortable using your personal equipment, you will need experience. I definitely notice a drastic improvement in my photos the more I go out and use my camera each week. If you feel awkward taking pictures in public, you are going to feel more comfortable doing by practicing more. Once you start seeing great results in your photos, you will want to go out and practice more and more anyway.
When you are taking photos of people you love and places you’ve visited, photography is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can indulge in. Professionally, photography is a great skill to know, especially when you are a blogger or content producer. Since I received my camera, I have fallen in love with using it.
This list provides only some of the ways you can learn how to use your camera and equipment. If there is anything I missed, please let me know in the comments below.