photography workshops

6 More Tips for Beginners Learning Photography

6 More Tips for Beginners Learning Photography

So you got a camera for your birthday, the holidays or you just decided to finally get one and learn how to use it. Many beginners will start to learn photography without direction only to run into a roadblock and decide that photography is not for them. They put their camera in a drawer, never to reemerge again. Let’s not let that happen to you!

Model: Tara Virada

 

In my last article: 6 Tips for Beginners Learning Photography, I taught you that workflow, getting to know your camera, learning manual settings and white balance, studying composition and understanding how to control light were vital things to learn as a beginner photographer. Here are six more tips that will help you to master your new hobby.

 

LEARN BETTER TECHNIQUE

 

Change Your Angle

My mentor once taught me, “If you want to make your photography better than 80% of other photography out there in the world, change your perspective.” This was probably some of the best advice I had ever heard. If you just stand there, put the camera to your eye and take the image, anyone can do that and your images may appear to be more snapshot-like. We don’t want just snapshots – we want interesting and captivating images!

I kneeled down to capture the tulips at a level of their own height.

Battery Park City in the Spring.

 

Move about a scene and try different levels: get up on the wall or bench and shoot down. Lie on the ground and shoot your subject from below (a “bug’s eye view”). Or get at the subject’s level for a more realistic impact, which works especially well for photographing animals and children.

Shooting from above.

Madrid, Spain

 

I entitled the image above, “I Am Here” as the pants and shoes are dusty and worn. Most people know that I am a traveller and this was my expression of my journeys. While you can lay down and shoot upward, in the image below, I placed my camera lens up on the ground and shot the tulips from a bug’s eye view.

Shooting from below.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

 

Holding & Stabilizing a Camera to Get Sharper Images

The goal of most photographers creating an image is to not only obtain a proper exposure but to create a image with the subject in clear, sharp focus. Technological advancements are constantly providing better solutions to meet this goal from the availability of vibration reduction lenses to the ability to fix camera shake in Adobe Photoshop.

Utilizing a tripod to stabilize my camera during the quickly changing lighting conditions.

Image of me courtesy of Yann Bizeul

 

One of the best ways that many photographers fail to use to obtain a sharper image is by using a tripod. When shooting a stationary or a subject with mild movement, a tripod can be your best friend. I recently wrote an article all about tripods called, Tripods: Choosing the Right Support for Your Investment packed full of information about the pros and cons of tripods and some recommendations. Tripod not in the budget this month? Find a flat stable surface or ledge to sit your camera on when you shoot. Anything to stable your camera will help to create much sharper images. If you don’t have a tripod and there’s no flat surface nearby to be found, prop yourself against a wall, pull your camera to your eye and tuck your elbows into your sides to improve stabilization.

 

Understanding That Timing Is Everything

Sometimes the perfect moment will happen before your eyes and you want to be lucky enough to pull your camera to your face, set your settings and capture the moment before it disappears forever. This is why timing is everything and it’s good to be prepared. There is also the trick: anticipating the moment. Oftentimes this works well with photographing sports as well as animals. I once sat at the window of a polar bear exhibit at a zoo for almost an hour studying the swimming pattern of the polar bear – trying to figure out how I was not only going to capture the image, but to do so in a way getting the image as sharp as possible and without glare. The image didn’t turn out half bad minus the abundance of breathing bubbles, but there is certainly something to be said about predicting the actions of your subject.

As I walked past this alleyway, I saw this duo and rushed quickly to take the shot as knew it was a fleeting moment.

Malaga, Spain

 

Whether it’s your lucky moment, like for me in the image above, or if you sit perched and waiting for the perfect moment to happen, such as what I did in the image below – timing can be everything to creating a beautiful image.

For this image I actually sat and waited for someone to walk through

the archway and found this to be an authentic shot of daily life in Sevilla.

Sevilla, Spain

 

SHOOT A SUBJECT OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

I shot travel photography and street photography for 12 years before stepping out of my comfort zone and stepping into a studio to shoot portraits and fashion. I try not to have regrets but it probably would have benefited me greatly to have experimented with several genres before limiting myself to only a couple of genres of interest to shoot.

Behind the scenes of one of my fashion shoots.

Model: Daria Komarkova

Image courtesy of Yann Bizeul

 

If nothing more, you gained some knowledge in an area you didn’t know before and the most you gain from trying is that you find you love and are a natural at something you had no idea you could do.

 

TAKE PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS (GROUP & PRIVATE)

Photography workshops are the way to go if you want to learn and to hone your photography skills because hands-on learning is the only way to really apply what you learn. As the owner of NYC Digital Photography Workshops, a photography workshop group that has taught over 120 group and private photography workshop topics, I’ve been blessed to watch our students grow and to see what works and what doesn’t and what type of workshops work best for each individual. It’s best to choose workshops taught by working photographers. Why? Because they have track record of success in supporting themselves exercising the craft you are trying to learn.

Another good thing to look for is workshops with smaller class sizes so that you get individualized attention, custom to your learning style. Groups with a variety of instructors are also a good mark because every instructor’s teaching style is different and you will constantly learn new things on the same topic from those varied perspectives.

 

GO ON REGULAR PHOTO WALKS

Photo walks are a great opportunity to not only to practice your photography, but to build up your portfolio. Participating in regular photo walks keeps you from putting your camera down because you always have a reason to get out and use it. In addition, when embarking on a group photo walk, you have ample opportunities to learn tips and tricks from others who are also learning.

It’s important to always be shooting. Photo walks are a great exercise.

Image of me courtesy of Yann Bizeul

 

GO TO PORTFOLIO CRITIQUES

Portfolio critiques are a terrific way to obtain unbiased opinions of your work as you continue to build your library of images and portfolio. I’ve done hundreds of portfolio reviews for our students wherein I not only critique an image, but I will tell or show you how to improve an image that may not quite work. Students typically find that by participating in portfolio critiques, that they learn how to improve exposure, composition and technique for the next time they go out shooting.

 

PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE!

The most important thing you can do to learn photography, much like anything else in life, is to practice, practice, practice! If you put your camera down for an extended period of time, more often than not, if and when you ever come back to photography, you lose the momentum you once had when you first starting shooting. Getting out of the house and practicing helps you to learn by making mistakes. Yes, mistakes! Don’t let mistakes discourage you from getting out there and shooting. The best way to learn is by troubleshooting your mistakes.

The key to learning photography is practice, practice, practice!


When you get out and practice, this gives you more opportunities to build a portfolio of images and as you get better and better with practice, your confidence in shooting will skyrocket. A great exercise with practice that many photographers, even seasoned photographers, practice is participating in a 365 photo project, where a photographer shoots a particular photograph each day of the year. There are many books and websites out there with weekly and daily photography projects to choose from to get you started.

 

IT’LL BE A WORTHWHILE JOURNEY…

Seventeen years later, I can say that photography has been a worthwhile journey for me. I’ve learned so much about the craft; I’ve captured so many things, people, places, memories and moments in time; I’ve exhibited my work; curated others’ works and now educate other photographers in honing their craft too. Photography is a tool to build self-confidence and thick skin all the while recording everything around you. It will be a worthwhile journey for you too.

 

Posted by Dawn Wayand in Workshop, 0 comments
10 Tips for New Photography Students

10 Tips for New Photography Students

Photography is a hobby for some, a part-time venture for many and a career for others. There are many things that some photographers wish they knew in the beginning, before even picking up a camera and creating their first photo. Some wish they knew the easier way around doing things to get the same result. Here are 10 starters tips to help give you a jumpstart ahead of the rest as you begin you journey into the world of photography.

Model: Daria Komarkova

 

  1. Always Shoot RAW. I learned the hard way after several trips around the world and 20,000 images later that the best way to shoot is RAW. Why? Shooting RAW records the most data. This allows you to do as much nondestructive editing as you wish. When you shoot only in JPEG, every time you open a file,  make adjustments and resave the image – you lose quality. If you shoot an image under or overexposed, it’s much easier to fix this if the image is in RAW than if it were in JPEG format.

Switch your camera mode to RAW format before you begin shooting.

 

One of the best photo editing programs out there for importing, organizing, keywording, editing and sharing your images from RAW is Adobe Lightroom 6. We always teach our students to do as much as you can possibly do in Lightroom (because it’s so much easier!) and then make any fine adjustments in Adobe Photoshop, if needed. The Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop Creative Cloud 12-Month Subscription Photography Plan goes for $119 at Adorama. You’ll always be current with your software version if you go the subscription route.

 

  1. Don’t Delete Images In-Camera Based on Your LCD Monitor. Another common mistake photographers sometimes make is to delete images in-camera based on reviewing it on the back of that 3.5” LCD monitor. It’s really better to invest in a few extra memory cards than to erase potentially good images by mistake. Keep all of your images until you can get to a larger monitor to review your images in detail.

Your LCD monitor is small. Invest in additional memory cards and wait to review images on a larger screen.

 

To make sure you do get the shot in the outdoors however, I recommend the Hoodman Compact Hoodloupe Optical Viewfinder. When you are shooting in bright conditions, this not only puts a nice tunnel vision between your eye and the LCD monitor when reviewing an image, but you can magnify the details by a slight twist of the middle piece. In a studio? Invest in a Tether Tools Starter Tethering Kit. I am so glad I did because it has saved me hours of reviewing too many images that could have been reduced by seeing what needed adjusting as I go along. This one piece cord connects your camera to your computer or laptop where you can review your images as you are shooting them. The Jerkstopper for both the camera and computer each help keep the cord where is belongs preventing disconnect.

 

  1. Save For Quality Gear and Equipment. Photography can get really expensive. Just ask any professional. It’s better to wait and invest in a quality piece of gear or equipment than to buy something that will fall apart within months because it was so inexpensive and not made to last. This is really key with cameras, lenses, light stands and tripods. Buy the camera you want rather than what you can afford. When you buy the camera you want, you are more likely to use it. As far as lenses, a low-quality piece of glass in front of a high end camera will not make the best image. Invest in at least one high quality lens before you begin buying a bunch of accessories you’ll probably never need or use. For more on good camera and lens choices, check out my article, Building the Home Studio Part 1: Space and Essential Shooting Gear.

 

Quality light stands and tripods are also really important. They what are supporting your $500+ camera, lens and/or light setup. Buying something low quality because it was less expensive is a recipe for disaster. Check out my article, Tripods: Choosing the Right Support for Your Investment for more on choosing the right tripod and my other article, Building the Home Studio Part 2: Continuous Lights and Light Stands for more on light stands.

 

  1. Vary Your Shooting Orientation and Angles. My mentor once taught me, “If you want to make your images better than 80% of the other photographers out there – change your perspective.” He was absolutely right.

“Bug’s eye” view of tulips.

 

Get on the ground and try shooting from the ground up. Get up on a ledge or ladder and shoot down.

Shot from the top of a ladder.

 

Try shooting every subject/scene both horizontally and vertically – or even shoot from the hip. You never know what might end up being really interesting.

 

  1. Learn To Understand and See Light. Light is the most important element of photography, so it’s important to understand and be able to see and work with it. I’ve had numerous student assistants who struggle with using a collapsible reflector in that they cannot see the light bounced from a light source onto the subject using one. It’s good to practice with a collapsible reflector as you can use these for so many photography subjects be it people or flowers. I own a variety of shapes and sizes of collapsible reflectors selecting from those what is the best for a particular situation. My favorites are the Lastolite LR3696 8-in-1 Tri Flip Reflector Kit and for a larger reflector, I use the Westcott 40” 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector w/ Case.

Learn light. This is a 2-light setup a spotlight in the front with a rim light in the back.

Model/Actress: Celeste Smith

 

For studio work, the best way to learn how to light something is to get a continuous light and try placing it in various positions around your subject. A continuous light will produce a what-you-see-is-what-you-get result before you click the shutter so you already know what the end result will be. I’m in love with the Fiilex P360EX Variable Color LED Light as you can control the color of the light for a more natural look.

 

  1. Try Different Genres of Photography. Don’t get stuck in one area of photography. It took me 12 years to venture out from travel and street photography into shooting people for portraits, headshots and fashion.


A sample of some of my travel work.

 

It’s not that I fell out of love or got bored with travel and street photography. I just hadn’t discovered yet that I also had a love for and was very good at shooting people too.

A few samples of my portrait/fashion work.

Models clockwise from top-left: Katie Buell, Daria Komarkova, Shoko Fujita and Karen Ramos.

 

After trying as many different genres of photography as you can, then narrow down your specialty for a career based on what you are good at and what you enjoy.

 

  1. Develop a Workflow and Stick To It. Setting up a consistent workflow for your photography is very important to do from the start because it gets really difficult (but not impossible!) to start implementing one 20,000 images into your portfolio.

Import screen in Adobe Lightroom.

 

The instructors of my group, NYC Digital Photography Workshops and I generally recommend Adobe Lightroom as a great way to set up a consistent, accurate and streamlined workflow. You can check out my article, Photography Workflow and Digital Asset Management (D.A.M.) for more on workflow.

 

  1. Charge For Your Work. Unless you are collaborating with models and hair and makeup artists on a creative project, or for practice – charge for your work and charge what you are worth. This makes your photography more rewarding is some ways, plus it helps to cover the cost of your equipment and time. It’s also important to note that photography is a full-time career for some, so keep in mind that there will be more full-time freelance working photographers out there struggling to make ends meet if they are competing with photographers working for very little or for free.

 

  1. Look for Opportunities to Show and Sell Your Work. Another rewarding thing about photography is sharing it with the world. Look for opportunities to show and sell your work through exhibitions, art fairs, etc. I wrote two articles on exhibiting that are great reads if you are interested in going this route: Selling Your Photography and Where to Show and Sell Your Photography.


Showing your work is a very rewarding part of photography.

 

Both articles are excerpts from my upcoming book to be released in the upcoming months called, Exhibitions, Marketing, Promotion and Publicity.

 

  1. Always Continue Learning Your Craft. As photographers, we can never know everything about photography. It is a constant learning process as technology changes…and technique changes, as we discover more interesting ways to make an image. It’s really important to continue learning and honing your craft whether it’s studying the masters, doing photo walks, taking group or private workshops, having your portfolio critiqued or reading books and articles like these.

 

Photography is an amazing, rewarding journey – allowing you to capture memories and points in time, subjects of interest and/or scenes in our lives. It’s a wonderful outlet for many and it’s a beautiful creative process that is growing with interest for anyone who embraces their sense of sight. It’s only up to you to bring a unique twist to your work to share and capture viewer’s attention.

Posted by Dawn Wayand in Workshop, 0 comments