Dos and Don'ts of Learning Photography

Updated: Oct 20

When I first started learning photography, it was a lot of trial and error. What worked and what didn’t. I went through my images and figured out why I liked a photograph or why I didn’t and then kept that in mind the next time I went out to take photos. I have learned a lot over the past 15 years that I want to share with you.


Do

Take a lot of different photos

Don’t

Take a lot of photos of the exact same thing

When learning photography, find a spot you like and take photos with different settings, different angles, and different compositions. I always try to get an image from 3 different perspectives. Try high up, low to the ground, far away, up close, from the right or from the left. Get creative. When you are culling through your images you don’t want to have to look through the exact same image 10 times. You want to decide on 10 different images and what you like best.


Do

Take images from all times of the day (golden hour, full sun, full shade, blue skies, cloudy skies, etc.)

Don’t

Only take images at golden hour or in perfect conditions

Every scene looks different depending on what time of day you are there or whether it’s sunny or cloudy. Some of my favorite images have been from a cloudy day in the middle of the day. If you like black and white images then the middle of the day is a good time because the contrast of the light can be so drastic. Maybe the spiderweb in the morning covered in dew with the sun coming up is the best. Macro photography is “typically” good when it’s an overcast day but maybe the light peeking through a shadow highlighting a flower is exactly what you wanted. Try to look at the positives in every situation with what you are given. Your plan may have to shift but use it to your advantage.


Do

Find a friend to go photo adventuring with

Don’t

Be competitive about getting a better shot

I love going out in nature with friends and then looking at the images we both captured. There will be times where you like your shot better and times you will like their shot better. Use it as a learning opportunity and figure out why you liked yours or theirs better. Maybe you both have different lenses and they do something you never thought of. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and get better as a photographer. It's also nice to have a friend with you for safety reasons.


Do

Know your camera/phone and what they are capable of

Don’t

Continually buy the newest and most expensive camera

The latest and greatest technology will not make you a better photographer. If you learn and know your camera and what it’s capable of, you can take amazing photographs with what you have. Once you take amazing images that you are proud of and find that your gear is not sufficient in what you need then upgrade to what you need. I have 3 different cameras that I use in different circumstances because I know what they are capable of and what they aren’t capable of. Some of my favorite photos are from my phone. The 3 photos above are all from different cameras.


Do

Set your camera down and walk around

Don’t

Stay in the same spot

Explore your surroundings before you decide where you are going to take your photographs. It might be a good spot, but if you would have moved 10 feet to the right you could get an even better composition, better light or see something really cool. I like to use my phone first to see what it might look like, then when I find a great spot I will take my camera out. Always watch where you step too. The photos above are from the same location and same day on my winter wonders adventure. I looked in the creek, on the sidewalk and up in the trees. I didn't just stay in one spot and walked around quite a bit. The more time you spend in a location the more you will see and capture if you just take the time to observe everything around you.


Do

Take photos from all different focal lengths

Don’t

Only take landscapes

Depending on the location, I try to take the landscape view as well as zoom in to take photos of wildlife or flowers or anything I can find around me. Part of telling a story with photography is to capture the whole scene and everything around you. The big picture and the small details. If you only have one focal length on your camera then move your body to get closer to things.


Remember to have fun, challenge yourself and find a photog bestie!


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