15 Minutes Photography Crash Course for Beginners

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It’s been some time since we published a descriptive article about photography, so today I’ve decided to make an article for learning all basics of this art.

This article is intended for the newcomers and amateurs, but no matter how seasoned professional you are, you should find something new here.

These techniques, tips, and tricks work almost each time you take a photo. And these are the methods that you MUST know if you have plans to become a photographer.

You can construct a strong building only by laying good foundations.  Here, we are laying the foundation of your photographic career. And even if you are not a professional, excelling in photography will snatch a whole bunch of praises for you from your family and friends.

Besides, your photos could also generate some good amount of extra money, and last but not the least, fame in the society.

All this could happen if you are able to find a moment worth capturing, such as if you are in the right place at the right time and see something illegal or immoral. Newspapers might be interested in buying such a photo. Even your routine holidays could bring you a historic moment. A fine example of that is Battle at the Kruger.

Disclaimer

Photography is a vast field and if you are a professional or thinking about becoming one, you shouldn’t imagine that you will be a great photographer of everything. There’s nature photography, war photography, fashion photography…. The list goes on and on.

We will be discussing all of these subjects in several of our future photography related posts. If you are becoming a professional, you should choose one niche or micro-niche from photography that suits you the most.

For example, if  “nature photography” is a niche,  “flower photography” would be a micro-niche. Hints for making a decision will be available in “Tips for Becoming a Successful Photographer“, We’ll keep on publishing relevant articles in the upcoming days, so make sure you don’t miss any.

 Conventional Photography vs Digital Photography

The era of conventional film-based photography is almost over. That’s why this article is not focused on this type of photography, but nevertheless, we will say a word or two about highlighting its positive and negative points.

Today is the age of Digital Photography. There are many reasons for that, for example, digital cameras help you to refine images at the time of taking a photo. Some people say that such features make digital cameras liars because their images are manipulated.

Digital cameras show you the results of the photos you shoot in real time. On the other hand, a minority of nature photographers still prefer film based cameras, because they say:

Digital cameras are not suitable for producing the best of images.

The point is that if you don’t want to be a pro, the digital camera is the best tool for you. Digital cameras are also more cost effective since they don’t need any refueling of films or anything like that.

Let’s have a little comparison:

Film Based

    • Cameras are Usually Heavier
    • Photo Development is Required to See a Shot
    • You Need a Photo Lab to Develop Your Photos, Or You’ll Have to Create a Photo Lab of Your Own.

Digital

    • Light Weight Cameras
    • Live Preview of the Images
    • Built-in Filters
    • One Memory Card Can Store Enough Images That Would Take Dozens of Films

How Camera Works

Here’s the basic system of a camera with elementary terminology.

how a camera works

(Image courtesy Tutorial9)

You already know the light and lens, so let’s take a quick look at the rest.

Aperture is the hole from which a frame is taken. The wider the hole is, the larger scope you will capture. Its space is customizable.

The shutter stays closed except for the moment when it’s capturing a shot. The light reaches the sensor, creating an image in the process. If the light is dim, the shutter can be opened for a bit longer. Shutter Speed is also customizable.

The sensor is a plate on which the image makes its impression.

Advanced techniques will be covered in the upcoming posts.

Visualizing a Shot

You should not be sleeping behind the camera. Photographers know what the shot will look like, before even taking a snap.  If you are becoming a video director, this is an essential thing. In video direction (i.e. film direction) it is called “establishing a shot”.

Many aspects come into play while visualizing a shot. There are different types of tricks for every kind of photography. We’ll discuss all of them in due time. For now, let’s have a look on some essentials:

Light

Everyone knows that the light source should be behind the camera and it should be tossing at the object. This theorem is correct, but sometimes angular lights look more charming. You could have seen some nature shots where only some of the light is sneaking through a guild of trees.

Light also creates a negative or a positive expression. Just google around with any famous politician’s name and type “evil” after that. You will see how photographers have done their “evil” job.

Wind

This is one of the important elements which a newbie misses.  The speed of the wind and the amount of dust and dew in the air is sometimes over-sighted by a beginner.

The basic tip is just that never stand against the wind while taking a snap. But then again, it only matters if it is a windy weather and let’s not forget that  the digital cameras are quite intelligent these days and they reduce the image loss on their own.

Filters

Choosing the right filter is also essential, for example, capturing some fireworks with “Auto” can never look as good as if captured at the filter “Twilight”. To know more about filters, please check the manual of your camera.

Holding a Camera

Image shake can spell a disaster to any photo. You should get a tripod if you can (tripod is a stand for camera), but since tripods can’t be carried in the pocket like the camera, here are some tips for you:

  • Hold with two hands. One hand should grip the camera tightly and the other which will push the Capture button should be a little loose.
  • Shoot the picture away from your body. Your camera should be about a foot away from your body.
  • Take a Deep Breath and don’t breath while pressing the Capture button.

There are some other extraordinary techniques for holding a camera, but they are considered advanced ones, hence they will be revealed in the post “Photo Journalism”.

Composition

photo composition

Image courtesy Color Pilot

The composition is one of the ground rules of photography. There are many rules to set composition of an image. The basic theory is to divide the picture into parts (in your imagination) and see every part separately. Take the photo as a story, and every (divided) part should be like a chapter of that story.

Scenic Photography

sunset scenic photography

Image courtesy Carol Gourley

Capturing a scene (e.g. a landscape) is the favorite part of the job for many photographers. Almost all of us have seen a few breath-taking views which will last in our memory for a lifetime. At that moment, we gasp “I Wish I had a camera right now…”. Some day you might have the camera so here are the two basic tips you should remember while capturing a scene.

Use Depth

This is the basic rule, try to capture as much of the scene as you can. But remember not to lose the balance. If there’s a big telephone poll on the left side, there should also be something on the right to keep the balance.

Set a Focal Point

Even if you are capturing a scene, there MUST be a focal point. It could be an island in the ocean, a star, a vista view, some smoke or any object. And this object does not have to be in the center. Experiment with a few different angles. After some experience, you will find the right rhythm.

This subject will be explicitly covered in the post “Nature Photography” in a few days.

Portrait Capturing

original james bond portrait

Original (Imaginary) James Bond Portrait

What is a portrait? Two ears, two eyes, and a nose in the middle…. No one likes that. The portrait is a revelation of character, it should be a complete introduction of somebody. How can you make a good portrait?

No staring at the camera: Even if somebody is looking straight towards the camera, the expression should suggest that it’s not because the photo is being taken and the body should be pointing to some other direction.

Genuine Expression: “Say Cheese” almost never works. Spark a joke if you need a smile.

Not just the face: There should be a little part of the body with the face in the image.

More details will follow in the post “Fashion Photography”.

Cell Phone Camera Techniques

Press Capture and Stay Still

Most of the phone camera images are ruined, because they process images slowly, thus when you have released the capture button after pressing it, they are still capturing and you moved the device. Until the image is completely processed, don’t move a muscle.

Get Close

These cameras have improved, but don’t rely on their Zoom feature and get closer to the subject instead.

Shoot Plenty

Don’t just take one photo, shoot plenty of them and decide later which one is the best.

These were the fundamentals for any photographer. I tried to keep this article brief because more detailed posts will be published soon. Your comments are being awaited and hopefully you’ll be joining us for the next articles…

In the end, i will leave you with an important resource: Photography Types: Guide and Examples for Photographers

create free website wix below post

Further Related Readings

Comments
  1. Lyka Ricks February 11, 2011 at 12:46 am

    I’m beginning to have interest in Photography. This is a Hobby, a Skill and an Income Generator. Thanks for the post.

    1. Tayyab February 13, 2011 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks for the comment @Lyka
      This post was written for people exactly like you 🙂

  2. Manoj March 11, 2011 at 4:41 am

    nice….. its really helpful, for the beginners like me…

    1. Tayyab March 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Glad you like it Manoj! 🙂

  3. Dianne Power April 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I love photography and am just beginning to take a few courses.
    I have worked with photographers in the past and loved it. There is
    so much more I would love to learn. I found your article very informative..
    Looking forward to more. Thanks

    1. Tayyab April 6, 2011 at 4:50 am

      @Dianne Power

      Thanks a lot for the comment. Have checked my best photography tutorial yet, How to Capture Long Exposure Shots It also contain some example shots.

  4. Brandon P July 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Good article for beginners!

    I was wondering what type of photography would best help to generate income? Weddings, portraits, head shots?
    Are there any websites/stores/people that purchase images?

    1. Tayyab July 28, 2011 at 1:07 am

      Hello Brandon!

      That is a very good question I must say.
      I don’t think this is the right approach. Your earning is directly proportional to the quality of your work. Choose the field which you enjoy, the quality will come automatically.
      Remember the old quote “There’s always room the top”, so choose the field in which you can reach the top. Don’t chase money, chase excellence, once you achieve it, the money will chase you.

  5. divermom July 31, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Really helpful. I’ve bookmarked this. 🙂

    1. Tayyab August 1, 2011 at 3:28 am

      Thanks for the bookmark 🙂

  6. New Jersey Wedding Video August 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Wow, great article. You really seem to have a way with words. I don’t normally read this kind of thing

  7. Savannah February 27, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Actually, I’ve been very interested on photography since I was in high-school. That’s why I’m really very eager to learn photography’s techniques and strategies.

    1. Tayyab February 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Photography is like learning Piano. First you learn the rules, once you know them by heart… you forget all of them and play as you feel like it.
      You should learn the techniques but don’t believe that you are not allowed to break them.

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