A Beginner’s Guide to Photography

To this day I remember taking this photograph. I was so stunned by the beauty of the sunset that I had to make it timeless. It was this moment when I realised just how passionate I am about photography, and how happy and relaxed it makes me. If you’re anything like me and enjoy translating the world’s beauty into a form of art, read on and I’ll share some tips for developing your talent.

Contrary to popular belief, photography is not all about lenses, tripods and other expensive equipment. It is also not just converting light rays into mere pixels either. Photography is primarily an experience. It is art with endless possibilities. When holding a camera in your hands, you have no limits apart from your own creativity and inspiration. However, it can still be challenging to find a starting point for exploring photography on your own. You might think that you will be bad at finding the ‘right angles’, that it’s pointless without a professional camera or maybe you’re simply very critical of your own work. My advice is: stop thinking. Take your camera and go enjoy the experience of photography. The main goal is not winning awards or getting money; it is making art and appreciating the world around you.

If you don’t own a professional camera, don’t worry. Nobody starts with an expensive DSLR and a full set of lenses. With some creativity, even your phone’s camera can get you very far. Some of the best photos I have ever taken were recorded using my phone, including the one you see here. This is why I believe that technology is the least limiting factor when you’re starting with photography. Similarly, buying a fancy new DSLR without already having a feel of your personal style won’t automatically make you a better photographer. Take your time to discover what type of photography you enjoy most and what you find aesthetically pleasing. This takes a lot of practice, but don’t set any goals or time limitations for yourself. Over time you will notice that you can do much more with your ordinary phone camera than you ever imagined.

However, when the time comes and you do decide to buy a professional camera, don’t let your emotions rule the process. Yes, everyone wants the latest and the best piece of hardware, but don’t waste half of your yearly budget on your first DSLR. It is very important to familiarise yourself in advance with the different features professional cameras have and how they are used. Something I learned too late is that bigger numbers don’t always imply better quality. I recommend reading about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed before buying a camera, as they are the most important aspects of a DSLR. It is also useful to understand how different types of cameras work and how light is actually transformed into a digital image. This can get quite technical, but I find it very helpful when constructing a shot. In addition, practice is just as essential as with phone cameras, so don’t forget to try new things.

Now that I’ve touched on the technical side, I want to introduce you to different types of photography. Of course, you can make art of anything you see and deem worthy, but there are some known ‘categories’. These include landscape, portrait, architecture, nature, people, gigs and animal photography, among many more. I personally enjoy capturing pretty landscapes, buildings and interesting sights in nature. Nothing can improve my mood as going to an unexplored part of the city and listening to my favourite band while paying full attention to the world surrounding me. Capturing those moments on camera can have a very deep, personal meaning. If you don’t enjoy taking photos of landscapes and nature like me, I am sure you’re just as passionate about something else. Photography is an artistic process and the essential part is to enjoy it. Therefore, whichever ‘category’ you prefer, if the act of taking the perfect shot means something more to you, you are a photographer.

I’d like to conclude by stressing that photography is not something to be intimidated by. Don’t be disheartened by your own criticism or lack of practice. Don’t put pressure on your work and do appreciate your progress. Never compare yourself to professionals. Try new things, experiment with different styles, develop your talent. And most importantly, enjoy being an artist.

[N. A]

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