Top 15 Beginner Photography Tips: Practical Advice for New Photographers
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 12 min read


1. Understanding Your Camera

2. Photography Tips for Beginners: Composition

3. Lighting Techniques

4. Capturing Stunning Portraits

5. Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

6. Editing and Post-Processing

Are you just starting to explore the world of photography and looking for some practical advice? You're in the right place! In this blog, we'll be sharing our top 15 photography tips for beginners, covering everything from understanding your camera to editing your photos. So, let's dive in and start taking amazing photos!

1. Understanding Your Camera

Before you can start capturing breathtaking images, you need to get familiar with your camera. It's like learning to drive a car: you can't hit the road without knowing how the gears, brakes, and steering work. Let's look at three key aspects of understanding your camera.

Choosing the right camera for you

With so many camera options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Start by considering your budget, your photography interests, and your willingness to carry heavy gear. Here are some popular options:

  1. Smartphone cameras: If you're on a tight budget or prefer the convenience of always having a camera with you, smartphone cameras can produce impressive results these days.
  2. Point-and-shoot cameras: These compact cameras are affordable and lightweight, making them great for casual photography and travel.
  3. Mirrorless cameras: These cameras offer a lighter and more compact alternative to DSLRs while still delivering high-quality images and interchangeable lenses.
  4. DSLR cameras: If you're serious about photography and willing to invest in gear, a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera provides excellent image quality, versatility, and control.

Learning the basic camera settings

Now that you've chosen a camera, it's time to learn about the basic settings that will help you take better photos. Here are a few key ones to understand:

  • Aperture: This is the size of the opening in the lens that lets light into the camera. A larger aperture (lower f-number) allows more light in, creating a shallow depth of field, while a smaller aperture (higher f-number) lets in less light and produces a deeper depth of field.
  • Shutter speed: This is the length of time the camera's shutter is open, exposing the sensor to light. Faster shutter speeds freeze motion, while slower speeds can create intentional motion blur.
  • ISO: This setting controls the camera's sensitivity to light. A lower ISO results in less noise (graininess) but requires more light, while a higher ISO can capture images in low light at the cost of increased noise.

Mastering manual mode

Automatic mode is a great starting point, but to truly unlock your camera's potential, you'll want to learn how to shoot in manual mode. This gives you full control over your camera settings, allowing you to fine-tune your images and adapt to various lighting conditions. Here's how to get started:

  1. Set your camera to manual mode (usually indicated by an "M" on the mode dial).
  2. Choose an appropriate aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for the scene you're photographing. Experiment with different combinations to see how they affect your image.
  3. Use your camera's light meter to help you find the correct exposure. If the meter indicates that your image is underexposed (too dark) or overexposed (too bright), adjust your settings accordingly.

With practice, you'll become more comfortable using manual mode, and it will become second nature. Remember, the more you practice, the better you'll get at capturing stunning images.

2. Photography Tips for Beginners: Composition

Now that you've got a handle on your camera and its settings, it's time to focus on the artistic side of photography. Composition refers to the arrangement of elements in a photo, and it can make or break your image. Let's dive into some essential photography tips for beginners when it comes to composition.

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental principle in photography that helps you create well-balanced and visually appealing images. To apply this rule, imagine your frame divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. The idea is to place the most important elements of your scene along these lines or at the intersections where they meet.

For example, if you're taking a landscape photo, you might place the horizon along the lower horizontal line, giving more emphasis to the sky. Or, if you're capturing a portrait, you could position the subject's eyes along the top horizontal line. By following the rule of thirds, you'll create images that are more engaging and visually interesting to your audience.

Leading lines

Leading lines are another powerful composition tool in photography. These are lines that guide the viewer's eye through the image, leading them to the main subject or point of interest. Leading lines can be found in various forms, such as roads, fences, rivers, or even shadows.

When composing your shot, look for natural leading lines in your environment and use them to draw attention to your subject. For example, you might photograph a person standing at the end of a winding path or capture a landscape with a river that leads the eye to a distant mountain. By utilizing leading lines, you can create dynamic, eye-catching images that keep your viewer engaged.

Framing your subject

Framing is another composition technique that can help you create more compelling images. The idea is to use elements within your scene to create a "frame" around your subject, drawing the viewer's attention to the main point of interest. Examples of natural frames might include a doorway, window, tree branches, or even an archway.

To effectively frame your subject, look for elements in your environment that can act as a frame and position your subject within them. This technique not only adds depth and context to your image but also helps guide the viewer's eye to the most important part of the photo. Remember, photography tips for beginners like this one can make a significant impact on the overall quality of your images.

3. Lighting Techniques

Lighting plays a crucial role in photography, as it can dramatically affect the mood, atmosphere, and overall quality of your images. Let's explore some essential lighting techniques that every beginner photographer should know.

3. Lighting Techniques

Now that we've covered composition, let's shed some light on the topic of lighting techniques. The way you use light in your photos can create a variety of moods and effects. As a beginner, it's important to understand some basic photography tips for lighting, so you can make the most of every shot.

Natural light

Natural light is the most accessible and budget-friendly light source available. It's the sunlight you see every day, and it can create beautiful, soft images. Here's how you can make the most of natural light:

  • Golden hour: This magical time occurs about an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset. During the golden hour, the sun is low in the sky, creating soft, warm light that's perfect for portraits and landscapes.
  • Overcast days: Cloudy weather acts as a natural diffuser, spreading light evenly across your scene and reducing harsh shadows. This is great for outdoor photography, especially when capturing details like textures and patterns.
  • Open shade: If you're shooting in bright sunlight, try finding some open shade, such as under a tree or next to a building. This will soften the light and reduce harsh shadows on your subject.

Artificial light

When natural light isn't available or doesn't give you the desired effect, artificial lighting can come to the rescue. Here are some common artificial light sources and how you can use them in your photography:

  • On-camera flash: This built-in flash can be useful in low-light situations or to fill in shadows, but it can also create harsh, unflattering light. To soften the light, try using a flash diffuser or bouncing the flash off a nearby surface like a wall or ceiling.
  • External flash: Also known as a speedlight, an external flash gives you more control over the direction and intensity of the light. You can use it off-camera with a wireless trigger to create more dynamic lighting effects.
  • Continuous lighting: These are constant light sources like studio lights or LED panels. They're great for beginners because you can see the effect of the light on your subject in real-time, making it easier to experiment and adjust your settings.

Using reflectors and diffusers

Reflectors and diffusers are simple but effective tools that can help you manipulate light in your photos. Let's take a look at how they work:

  • Reflectors: These are usually circular, collapsible discs with reflective surfaces, such as white, silver, or gold. You can use them to bounce light onto your subject, filling in shadows and creating a more even exposure. This is particularly useful in portrait photography.
  • Diffusers: A diffuser is a translucent material, like a white fabric or a softbox, that softens and spreads light. By placing a diffuser between your light source and your subject, you can create a more flattering, even light that reduces harsh shadows and highlights.

Remember, experimenting with different photography tips for beginners, like these lighting techniques, will help you discover your unique style and take your images to the next level.

4. Capturing Stunning Portraits

As we've explored lighting techniques, let's now focus on capturing stunning portraits. Portraits can be a beautiful way to showcase the personality and emotions of your subjects. With these photography tips for beginners, you'll be on your way to creating captivating portraits that leave a lasting impression.

Posing your subject

When it comes to portrait photography, the way your subject is posed can make or break the shot. Here are some pointers to help guide your subject into natural and flattering poses:

  • Relaxed posture: Encourage your subject to stand or sit in a comfortable position, with their weight slightly shifted to one side. This creates a more natural and casual appearance.
  • Angles: Have your subject slightly turn their body and head towards the camera, creating angles that show dimension and depth. Avoid shooting straight-on, as this can make your subject appear flat.
  • Hands and arms: Guide your subject on what to do with their hands and arms. They can rest them on their lap, hold onto an object, or gently touch their face. This adds interest and prevents awkward-looking limbs.

Working with different backgrounds

The background of your portrait can either enhance or distract from your subject. Here's how you can work with different backgrounds to create stunning portraits:

  • Simple backgrounds: Using a plain wall or backdrop can help your subject stand out and keep the focus on them. This is especially useful for headshots or when you want to create a minimalistic look.
  • Environmental backgrounds: Incorporate elements from your surroundings, such as trees, architecture, or urban landscapes, to add context and depth to your portrait. Be mindful of any distractions or clutter that could take attention away from your subject.
  • Blurred backgrounds: Create a shallow depth of field by using a wide aperture (lower f-number), which will blur the background and make your subject stand out. This is a popular technique for outdoor portraits and is known as "bokeh."

Experimenting with angles and perspectives

Don't be afraid to get creative with your camera angles and perspectives when capturing portraits. Trying out different viewpoints can lead to more interesting and dynamic images. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Eye level: Shooting at eye level with your subject often results in the most natural and relatable portraits. This perspective allows viewers to connect with the subject as if they were having a face-to-face conversation.
  • High angle: By positioning your camera above your subject, you can create a sense of vulnerability or playfulness. This angle is also useful for slimming the face and reducing the appearance of double chins.
  • Low angle: Shooting from a lower angle can make your subject appear more powerful and confident. Just be cautious not to go too low, as this can create unflattering distortion.

With these photography tips for beginners, you'll be well on your way to capturing stunning, emotive portraits that make a lasting impression on your viewers.

5. Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

Now that we've covered portrait photography, let's shift our focus to landscape photography. Landscape photography is an excellent way for beginners to explore the beauty of the world around them, while honing their photography skills. In this section, we'll share photography tips for beginners looking to capture breathtaking landscape images.

Scouting locations

Before you start snapping away, it's important to scout potential locations for your landscape photos. This will help you find the most photogenic spots and plan your shots effectively. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Do your research: Look for inspiring locations online or in books, and ask local photographers for recommendations. This can help you discover hidden gems that aren't as crowded or over-photographed.
  • Visit in person: Once you have a list of potential locations, take the time to visit them in person. This will give you a better idea of the lighting conditions, potential compositions, and any challenges you might face.
  • Take notes: As you scout locations, jot down important details, such as the best time of day to shoot, potential hazards, or any permits you might need. This will make your life easier when it's time to actually take your photos.

Choosing the right time of day

The time of day you choose to shoot can have a significant impact on the quality of your landscape photos. Here's a quick rundown of the best times for landscape photography:

  • Golden hour: The golden hour — the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset — provides soft, warm light that can make your landscape photos truly shine. This is the most popular time among photographers for good reason!
  • Blue hour: The blue hour occurs just before sunrise and just after sunset, when the sky turns a deep blue hue. This can add a unique, moody atmosphere to your landscape images.
  • Overcast days: While bright sunlight can create harsh shadows and blown-out highlights, overcast days provide diffused light that can result in evenly lit, vibrant images.

Using filters for better results

One of the best photography tips for beginners is to experiment with filters to enhance your landscape images. Filters can help you manage challenging lighting conditions and create more balanced, eye-catching photos. Here are some common filters used in landscape photography:

  • Polarizing filters: These filters reduce glare and reflections, making colors appear more vibrant and saturated. They're particularly useful for shooting bodies of water or foliage.
  • Graduated neutral density (GND) filters: GND filters help balance the exposure in your image by darkening the brighter parts of the scene (usually the sky) without affecting the darker parts (the foreground). This can be especially helpful in high-contrast situations, like sunrise or sunset.
  • Neutral density (ND) filters: ND filters reduce the amount of light entering your camera, allowing you to use slower shutter speeds or wider apertures without overexposing your image. This is great for capturing motion blur in waterfalls, rivers, or clouds.

With these landscape photography tips for beginners, you'll be well on your way to capturing stunning images that showcase the beauty and wonder of the natural world.

6. Editing and Post-Processing

With your landscape photos in hand, it's time to take them to the next level through editing and post-processing. Even the most stunning images can benefit from some fine-tuning. In this section, we'll share photography tips for beginners to help you enhance your photos and develop your unique style.

Basic photo editing techniques

Before diving into advanced editing tools, it's essential to master some basic photo editing techniques. These fundamental skills will help you make the most of your images:

  • Cropping: Sometimes, less is more. Cropping your photos can help you remove unwanted distractions, improve composition, and create a stronger visual impact.
  • Exposure adjustment: If your photos are too dark or too bright, you can tweak the exposure to achieve a more balanced look. Remember, it's better to slightly underexpose your images during shooting, as it's easier to recover details from shadows than from blown-out highlights.
  • Color correction: Adjusting the white balance and saturation in your photos can help you achieve more accurate and vibrant colors. This is especially important when shooting in tricky lighting conditions, such as mixed or artificial light sources.
  • Sharpening: A little bit of sharpening can bring out the fine details in your photos, giving them a crisp and professional look. Be careful not to overdo it, as excessive sharpening can lead to unnatural-looking images.

Using editing software

There are countless editing software options available to help you enhance your images, with varying levels of complexity and functionality. Here are some popular choices for beginners:

  • Adobe Lightroom: Lightroom is a user-friendly, all-in-one solution for organizing, editing, and sharing your photos. It offers a wide range of editing tools, presets, and tutorials to help beginners get started.
  • Affinity Photo: Affinity Photo is a powerful, affordable alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It's packed with advanced editing features, making it a great option for those looking to take their post-processing skills to the next level.
  • GIMP: GIMP is a free, open-source image editor that offers many of the same features as Photoshop. It's a solid option for beginners on a budget who still want to access advanced editing tools.

When choosing editing software, consider your needs, budget, and learning curve. Don't be afraid to experiment with different programs to find the one that works best for you.

Creating a consistent style

As you continue to develop your photography skills, it's important to establish a consistent style. This will help you stand out and create a cohesive body of work. Here are some tips to help you develop your own unique style:

  • Study other photographers: Look at the work of photographers you admire and identify the elements that make their images stand out. This can help you discover your own preferences and develop your artistic vision.
  • Experiment with different techniques: Try out various editing techniques, presets, and filters to see which ones resonate with you. Remember, photography tips for beginners are just guidelines — it's up to you to find what works best for your style.
  • Be consistent: Once you've developed a distinctive style, apply it consistently across your work. This will help you create a recognizable brand and make your images more memorable.

With these editing and post-processing tips in your arsenal, you'll be well on your way to creating stunning images that showcase your unique vision as a photographer. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep experimenting and honing your skills. Happy shooting!

If you're just starting out in photography and want to learn more about creating a strong brand, check out Wesley Verhoeve's workshop, 'How to Create Your Brand'. This workshop will provide you with the essential knowledge and tools to establish a memorable and authentic brand for your photography business.