The Do’s and Don’ts of Photography for Beginners

Photography offers us the chance to be an artist and to witness the world through a lens – creating art through imagery, all while witnessing something unfold right before our eyes. This is why photography is such a worthwhile pursuit that you should seriously consider taking up. However, newbie photographers (me included) may find themselves frustrated at the beginning, as there are some growing pains to endure before getting that perfect shot. Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help you get better relatively quickly:

Do use what you already have

As a beginner, any camera you currently have for photography will suffice, whether that’s your phone or a point and shoot camera, and then you can work up to a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. For now, use what you already have to get a good understanding of the different camera settings and practice composing pictures until you can buy that upgraded camera. Fortunately, there are plenty of good, entry-level cameras listed by Tech Radar that you can begin with. The Nikon D3500 and the Canon EOS 90D are a good start, as both are packed with features and are reasonably priced, but there are certainly others to consider.

Don’t go crazy buying equipment

Some beginners make the mistake of going for the most expensive camera, mistakenly believing that the pricier, the better. While others, stock up on pricey equipment, thinking that all that gear will make them a great photographer. Don’t make the same mistakes. It’s important to remember, it’s not the gear that makes a great photographer. Rather than focus on stockpiling equipment (some of which you might not even need), devote your energy and budget to learning about photography by attending seminars, taking courses, reading books, and learning from others.

Do accessorize

While you don’t need to buy everything professionals have in their kit, accessorizing is still important to make the process much easier. Luckily, there are plenty of accessories to begin with, depending on your needs. In fact, the range of photography equipment on Adorama such as tripods, battery packs, and lighting equipment is a testament to just how much equipment is out there to help make the job easier. Whether you’re looking for your camera to last longer by purchasing additional battery packs, or looking to get a steady shot using a tripod, there’s bound to be an accessory to assist you. For beginners, you should start with a lens cleaning kit, a couple of new lenses, spare batteries, a bag to keep your gear organized, and a basic tripod.

Don’t settle for Auto

Photo Pro Magazine state that it can be hard to steer clear of the automatic settings, as it makes capturing photos easy and convenient. However, you should break that habit if you want to become a better photographer as there is a lot to explore beyond the typical settings. At the end of the day, the more you explore your camera’s settings, the better you’ll be at photography and shooting in different scenarios. Not to mention, you may have already invested in a DSLR/Mirrorless, so make the most out of it by testing out new things.

Do Practice

You get better by taking photos of different subjects in diverse scenarios using a multitude of settings. As you practice, keep in mind some guidelines, like the rule of thirds, where you divide a frame into a 3×3 grid and place your subject on any of the four intersections. It’s a purposeful misdirection, as it goes against the eyes’ natural inclination to look directly at something. Nevertheless, it creates a dynamic balance and compels the viewer to look at the entirety of the image. Now, as you practice, it’s important to keep those creative juices flowing, and my ’10 Tips for Finding Inspiration’ post will hopefully help inspire you.

Even walking around with your camera on you at all times will help you to flex those creative muscles.

Don’t check too much

Photography pro, Caio Guatelli, notes in ’17 Essential Photography Tips for Beginners’ that checking your resulting shot is counterintuitive for two reasons. First, the camera’s screen doesn’t always show the tonal details and will cause you to adjust your settings immediately even when it’s unnecessary. Second, said habit can result in you missing a better moment, as your eyes are needlessly glued to your camera’s LCD.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those new to photography?

Happy Shooting!

62 thoughts on “The Do’s and Don’ts of Photography for Beginners

  1. Ingrid, I read your post in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago. I bookmarked it, since you share valuable, doable photography information. I have spent the last hour playing with my new tripod I bought today for my iphone. My husband and I did a goofy video. I bought two items today, the lens cleaning kit and the tripod. Thank you for sharing a great post!

    Like

  2. Hi Ingrid, Awesome tips. I got a new much nicer camera for mother’s day. I have been shooting ever since. I am not a professional but, I hope to be someday. I created by blog in hopes of encouraging myself to stay committed to shooting and learning my camera. I am glad you mentioned use what we have. My camera came with two lenses and was tempted to buy a third one just because I read somewhere that the lenses help to take beautiful close up shots. I had to tell myself, wait you have not mastered the modes on the camera don’t waste money on a lens. Thanks again.

    Like

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad you found the tips helpful. I know I am guilty of equipment envy and have finally stopped spending so much time on the B&H website 😆 All the professionals say, it’s not the equipment, it’s the vision and know how. Guess I have some practicing to do before I even think about adding to my camera bag 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice post. I studied photography in college and although I did well I never really liked the technical part of it and eventually hated lugging around a heavy camera.

    So now I mostly use a compact camera. I love being able to just point and shoot. But, of course, without knowing a few things about photography it is impossible to always get the results I want. I have had to resort to reading my new camera’s manual. Ugh. But I am learning the camera and getting better pictures.

    My best photography tool is photoshop. Find that the camera just can’t capture what the eye can see and I always want to pull a little more detail out of the shadows and make the photo pop like I remember the scene in real life.

    And here is a suggestion for newbies – climb up on things, squat down, and look at your subject from different angles.

    Like

    1. Excellent suggestions. Using one’s feet is definitely a good idea for composition. I too don’t like lugging around a big camera with various lenses which is why I shoot with a bridge camera. It seems to be the perfect travel camera for me. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t keep eyeing those nifty mirrorless cameras and putting one on my wish list. Happy traveling!

      Like

      1. Thank you. Last night my youngest son and daughter-in-law had a baby girl~precious tiny bundle, Whitley Lynn, in Washington. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there. But will travel West in August. It’s very busy at the campground. Several are headed to Arizona in January and I thought of you. Quartszite? Asked if I want to join them. Are you familiar with that area? Hope all is well and you’re staying safe and healthy too.

        Like

        1. Congratulations on the new addition. I’m sure you can’t wait to hold that little bundle of joy. Q is kind of an acquired taste in my opinion. The desert there is rather stark and barren. Most RVers gather there in groups and it’s more about the socializing than anything else. Here’s a link to a few posts I did on the area which might give you a rough idea of what to expect when you visit Quartzsite https://livelaughrv.net/2013/01/

          Liked by 1 person

  4. First and foremast have fun and let your creativity go. The best accessory I bought for my camera was a filter – love being able to shoot into the sun/natural light. I usually take at least two photos if not more of something and then edit on my laptop. Happy Exploring and Photographing – Enjoy 🙂

    Like

    1. Totally agree … it’s all about having fun, and like you, I find myself taking multiple images of the same subject but on different settings. By doing that, I’ve really learned a lot about my camera. Happy shooting!

      Like

  5. Hi, Ingrid,
    Great ideas from both you and your readers. I echo the Luminar comments and use it most of the time for editing. I play around with Aurora HDR for fun and Lightroom, but have a lot to learn. Hope you’re setting in at the summer stay. We’re in Columbia, MO for the night on the way to Rushmore. Stay in touch!Joe in TN

    Like

    1. We are definitely settling in for the summer and I’ve already taken photos of ducks, geese, a great blue heron, but the uncooperative eagle takes flight the moment I reach for the camera 😏 Safe travels to you and Helen. Have a great summer!

      Like

  6. Good tips, as always. I’ve been investigating Aperture priority with my macro lens lately. I pick 3 different f-stops for each photo. Once I decide what works in a particular situation, I jot it down on the little cheat-sheets I’ve made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Learning the camera and a specific lens is huge. I fail in the area of jotting things down and find myself relearning the same lessons 😆 I don’t recall what part of Canada you’re in, but I’m sure you and I are equally pleased to have escaped the Phoenix heat. Al and I are all settled in in our northern Wisconsin location for the summer and loving the temps. I hope to make a day visit to Lake Superior soon!

      Like

      1. Yes, great to be out of the heat. We are in Alberta – the area that got hit with the monster hail storm Saturday night. Hail stones the size of tennis balls. We were on the edge of the storm – heavy rain and small hail – just bruised a lot of leaves.

        Like

        1. Lucky you … You’re in a beautiful location with a diverse landscape. Oh, I’m all too familiar with those hail storms (lived in Colorado). Glad you didn’t suffer too much damage.

          Like

  7. Thanks for the tips, Ingrid. Mine is Digital Photography School (digital-photography-school.com). They were my go-to site when starting out and still are when I need a refresher on how to photograph this or that object or situation. They have so many articles on various photography topics a researcher is sure to find answers to any questions. I still subscribe to their newsletter which includes their weekly photo challenge and recent articles. Bonus is that it is all free, unless you sign up for a course. Great for photo geeks on a budget.

    Like

    1. DPS is a great site and full of useful tips and information. I’ve learned so much from that site. I think I subscribed to it over five years ago. I also learned a lot from Darren’s other blog on “blogging”. So much great learning info out there for free … my kind of budget 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great reminders especially now that I’m stationary I should really focus on continuing to learn. Thankfully I don’t check my photos right after I click. I simply wish and hope I had a good snap and then my computer will present it to me.

    Like

    1. Point and pray is my tried and true method for photo success 🤣 Now that you aren’t moving every week, you’ll have tons of time to focus on all kinds of things. Hope you enjoy your summer!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi, Ingrid – Thank you for these helpful tips. I do own a good, basic point and shoot camera, as well as a DSLR. However, I never use them. I love the flexibility, assessibility and convenience of my Samsung phone camera and it takes good shots (at least for me). I do agree to practice, practice, practice …and invest in a portable tripod.

    Like

    1. I love my little Joby tripod and find myself using that one a lot while my ‘real’ tripod stays in the backseat 😏 I’ve been taking a lot more photos with my iPhone but get frustrated with its limitations. So, I’ll always want to have a ‘real’ camera traveling with me. In the end, it’s all about convenience and what gives us joy.

      Like

  10. All great tips, Ingrid! The most important one, IMHO, is practice, practice, practice. I sometimes get frustrated when I don’t instantly master a skill but, with photography, there is so much to learn. It’s not difficult but not only do you need to understand your camera, but you need to train your eye. To Beth’s question, I have been using Luminar 4 as my go-to editor and really like it. There is just one initial price (which is often on sale) then no monthly fees.

    Like

    1. Hi Janis, I totally agree that there’s no such thing as too much practice. When I set my camera away for awhile and then pick it back up, I feel like I’m starting all over again. I’m all for the one price editing software. I’ve heard good things about Luminar.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice article, Ingrid! One of the things I love about retirement is having so much more time for photography. Something I have learned to help with getting the right exposure is to use the histogram. It is a great tool and many cameras have a setting to display it in the viewfinder/LCD when composing the shot. I also like to use back-button focus so I am able to get focus on the subject and then re-frame the image for the desired composition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent recommendations. I use the histogram all the time when editing but rarely use it out in the field. With an electronic viewfinder, I’m usually ok with exposure, and one day I will learn how to use the back-button focus. I’m sure it’s very useful when shooting birds.

      Like

  12. Hay Ingrid, Great tips. I wanted to let you know about Gurushots.com. It’s a photography game that is free and it lets me post images from my shots and see which ones are popular so I can post them on stock sites or our website.
    Enjoy your travels.

    Like

  13. ” like the rule of thirds, where you divide a frame into a 3×3 grid and place your subject on any of the four intersections”
    I’ve known this rule for a long time, but it still is the most difficult for me to follow. One of the reasons is the focus metering of my cameras. They usually focus in the middle of the picture. Changing that area, which is possible on my Nikon D500, takes a few seconds, and that sometimes already is too long a time. My way around that is taking a “fuller” picture and later crop it so that the motive appears in one of these four intersections.
    That just reminds me of another tip: make sure that the motive faces “into” the picture, not to the edge.

    Like

    1. I quite often have my camera set to a center focus also. What I do is establish focus where I want then keeping the shutter pressed half way, I then recompose the image. Focus will remain where you locked it in. Thanks for the tip!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. You are a wealth of Information, Ingrid, and i always look forward to your how-to photography posts. I was grateful to another blogger for telling me about the Lumix FZ 300, such a great camera. Cell phone cameras have become very sophisticated and I’ve good luck with mine and it’s easy to carry and capture that perfect shot.

    Like

    1. Ever since I got my iPhone 8+, I find myself using the phone more and more, BUT it’ll never replace a ‘real’ camera. Like you, I really like my Lumix FZ300. It’s such a great travel camera.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I am guessing that I use about 10% of my cameras settings/ability. I tend to stay away from the automatic settings but will find myself reverting back to it when I need to take a quick picture. When I have time I will play around, taking the same picture with different settings. It is amazing how different each of the shots turn out and you can learn a lot from that alone.

    Like

    1. I seem to do the same thing, and I agree, when taking the same image with various settings, it’s interesting to compare the end result. Sorry you weren’t able to get to Alaska this year. I have a feeling, you’ll discover some fun and out of the way places in the lower 48.

      Like

  16. I began a travel blog five years ago and when asked about my approach, after some thought, I now reply my stock answer, “Sometimes I weave a story around my photos, and other times I weave photos around my story”. It’s a different approach to each post floating around in my head before I write/portray it. For example, some bloggers just do a bunch of spectacular photos with a limited boring story and I usually just look at all the great photos. And other bloggers tell a great story with run-of-the-mill photos that don’t really add to the wonderful story so I skip over those photos. And sometimes bloggers hit a home run with great photos to tell a great story!

    Like

    1. Ah, spot-on words Terri. I know I’m guilty of my posts being all over the place. Sometimes (a lot of times), I’m at a loss for words and let the images tell the story, and now when I’m looking back at our travels, I’m mad at myself for not writing more info down, info I sure could use as a reference these days. 😏 This Sunday’s post is being written more for me as a reminder of our road trip. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by my readers. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the post 😊

      Like

  17. Ingrid, I enjoy reading your photography tips. These are all great! Even though I’ve been taking photographs for many years, have a DSLR I like with three lenses, tripods and other accessories I still feel like a beginner every time I go out to take photos! Right now I’m struggling with a 6 year old broken computer that is barely limping along and am looking at getting a new one. While I’m at it I want to upgrade my editing software. Any suggestions what I should look at for editing?

    Like

    1. Like you Beth, I’ll always consider myself a newbie photographer. Editing – I’ve been using a downloadable version of Adobe Lightroom for about the past four+ years. LR has moved to a subscription format but you might still be able to buy the downloadable disc via B&H. I also have Adobe Elements (downloadable) which is a diluted version of Photoshop but haven’t mastered that program. I bought a new laptop over the winter with photo editing in mind and still getting used to it – Asus with i7 processor. Feel free to email me anytime. We’re now sitting for the summer. Due to everything going on, we won’t be exploring as I originally hoped.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.