If you are just starting out in photography and you don’t know where to begin, or perhaps you have been taking pictures with your camera for a while and want to improve your shooting skills, the collection of material compiled in this article will not only help you in building up your photography knowledge, but also assist in advancing you to the next level. On this page, you will find everything from basic photography tips for beginners all the way to more advanced techniques and tutorials to help you grow and get the best out of your equipment.
Let’s start out with the essentials.
1) Know Your Camera
Before you start learning about photography, you should first get accustomed to your camera, so that you can find the relevant camera settings when we go over them further down in the article. If your primary camera is a DSLR, it does not hurt to know what a DSLR is and how it works. If you shoot with a mirrorless camera, we have a similar article that describes what a mirrorless camera is and how it compares to a DSLR. And if you want to take it up a level, we have a detailed DSLR vs Mirrorless article that lists every advantage and disadvantage of the two. If you shoot with a point-and-shoot camera, check out our DSLR vs Point-and-Shoot article that compares the two.
2) Buying a Camera
If you currently do not own a camera and want to buy one, we have articles on How to Buy a DSLR camera, Which Nikon DSLR and Nikon Lenses to Buy First and if you are a Canon shooter, we also have a great article Comparing Canon Entry-Level DSLR cameras. Wondering which brand is better? Perhaps you should read our Nikon vs Canon vs Sony article, after which you will hopefully realize that camera brand does not matter, especially for a beginner. And if you don’t mind buying used gear, we have an article on How to Buy Used DSLR Cameras and How to Buy Used Lenses.
If you are evaluating a mirrorless camera system, we have several in-depth articles for you. Start out by reading our Beginner’s Guide to Choosing a Mirrorless Camera, then see our Mirrorless Camera Comparison article for a general overview of all mirrorless systems on the market and lastly, check out our in-depth article on Evaluating Mirrorless Camera Systems that gives our subjective rating on all the mirrorless camera systems on the market.
Want to put together a great camera kit? Check out our detailed Beginning Photography Equipment article.
And if you are not fully satisfied with all this reading material, we have even more links for you to check out on photography gear and how to buy it:
- Where to Buy a DSLR
- What is Gray Market Camera Gear?
- Why You Should Only Buy From Authorized Dealers
- Beware of buying camera gear from unauthorized sellers
- The Perks of Switching Camera Systems
- Micro Four Thirds vs DSLR Camera Considerations
- Must-have DSLR Accessories
- How to Choose the Right Lens Set
- Why Are Some Lenses So Expensive?
- How to Use a Monopod
- How to Choose and Buy a Tripod
- How to Use a Tripod
- How to Reduce Camera Shake on a Tripod
- What is Arca-Swiss Quick Release System?
- Which Nikon Prime Lens to Buy First?
- Things to Do After Buying a New Lens
- Best Nikon lenses for Wedding Photography
- Best Nikon lenses for Landscape Photography
- Best Nikon lenses for Wildlife Photography
- Best Nikon Lenses for Food Photography
- Nikon DX vs FX
- Diseases that Plague Photographers
- Replacing GAS with SAS
Lastly, don’t worry too much about photography gear. Although we cover quite a bit of it here at Photography Life, learn to improve your photos without buying more gear!
3) Learn Photography Basics
Once you have a camera kit to shoot with and you know how to turn it on to take a picture, it is a good time to learn and understand the photography basics. First, start out by reading about Aperture (also see Lens Aperture Chart for Beginners), Shutter Speed and Camera ISO. Then put the three together in Understanding ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture for Beginners article and seal it with the Exposure Triangle for Beginners and Choosing a Creative Exposure articles. Oh, and don’t forget about properly exposing your images through our Underexposure and Overexposure and Exposure Compensation articles, where we go in depth about proper exposure and how you can make quick exposure adjustments to your images. If you read all this material, you will get pretty far already, definitely brave enough to start taking your first pictures!
From there, I recommend reading about Exposure Stops in Photography, then learn about White Balance and what it does to your images (see Understanding White Balance for more information). If you have challenges understanding camera metering, see our detailed Understanding Metering and Metering Modes article. Wondering what histograms are and how you can use them? See our Understanding Histograms article. Once you read our guide on Understanding Digital Camera Modes, you will hopefully be brave enough to finally switch from that “Auto” mode!
And if all of the above is not enough, there is plenty more:
- How to Hold a Camera
- Understanding Depth of Field – A Beginner’s Guide
- DSLR Autofocus Modes Explained
- How Phase Detection Autofocus Works
- Prime vs Zoom Lenses
- The Versatility of Prime Lenses
- How to Use Wide-Angle Lenses
- How to Use Telephoto Lenses
- Nikon AE-L / AF-L Button
- Focus and Recompose Technique
- Taking Good Photos in Bad Light
- How to Take Good Pictures
- How to Take Sharp Photos
- Low-Light Photography Tips
- Understanding Auto ISO in Photography
- What is Crop Factor?
- What is Reciprocal Rule in Photography?
- What is Lens Compression and How to Use it
- How Focal Length Affects What and How You See
- Using Nikon DX Lenses on FX Cameras
- How to Spot Dust on Your DSLR Sensor
- Hyperfocal Distance Explained
- Which Camera Settings Affect RAW Photos?
- Compressed vs Uncompressed vs Lossless Compressed RAW Options
- What is a Teleconverter?
- What is an Extension Tube?
- Why Use Fisheye Lenses?
- What is Bokeh?
- How to Obtain Maximum Bokeh
4) Learn How to Compose and Frame
Now that you know how to operate your camera, set camera settings for proper exposure and use your lenses, it is time to learn how to compose and frame with your camera. Many beginners struggle in this area, so we have plenty of material that covers not just the basics, but also more advanced topics on framing and composition. Start out by reading about Composition, then check out our Introduction to Composition. From there, see basic composition articles such as The Rule of Thirds, the Importance of Straightening the Horizon and Aligning Lines, Creating and Using Leading Lines, Leading the Eye of the viewer, Using Central Composition, Using Negative Space, differences between Open and Closed Composition and Using Foreground Elements to Create Added Depth.
That’s a lot to cover isn’t it? Well, we have plenty more material for you to check out:
- What’s Important in a Photograph and What Isn’t
- What a 365 Challenge Taught Me as a Novice
- Balance in Photography
- Four Simple Tips for Better Composition
- The Magic of “7” in Composition
- Improving Eye Flow by Creating Corner Exits
- Composition in Photography: Assignment Discussion
- How to Improve Your Photography
- Improve Your Photography
- Explore the Edges
- Beyond the Obvious Shot
- The Myth of the Rule of Thirds
- How to Find Your Personal Style in Photography
5) Learn Specific Photography Techniques
Ready to keep on learning? Perhaps you should check out the following photography tips and techniques for all kinds of photography genres:
- How to Fix Light Leaks in Long Exposure Photography
- Six Tips for Better Photographs of Plants
- Introduction to Black and White Nature Photography
- How to Photograph Cathedrals
- How to Focus Stack Images
- How to Photograph the Milky Way
- How to Photograph Cemeteries and Explore Their Beauty
- How to Deal with Harsh, Midday Lighting
- Introduction to Street Portrait Photography
- Street Photography Tips for Beginners
- How to Photograph Food with a Camera Phone
- Food Photography Tips: Introduction
- Tips on Photographing Food Outdoors
- Getting Started with Sports Photography
- Maximizing Dynamic Range
- How to use a Polarizer
- How to Photograph Clouds
- How to Photograph a Rainbow
- Mountain Photography Tips
- Nature Photography Tips
- HDR Photography Tutorial
- How to Photograph Textures
- How to Photograph Waterfalls
- How to Photograph the Moon
- How to Photograph the Supermoon
- How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse
- How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse
- How to Photograph Fireworks
- How to Photograph a Lightning
- Street Photography Techniques
- Bokeh on Point and Shoot Cameras
- Nikon Lens Bokeh Performance
- Smartphone Photography Tips
- Aquarium Macro Photography of Ornamental Shrimp
- If it Moves, Make it Blurred
- Stop Taking Crappy Pictures!
- Macro Photography Tutorial
- Macro Photography Lighting Tutorial
- High Magnification Macro Photography on a Budget
- Focal Length in Reverse Lens Macro Technique
- Using Extension Tubes in Strong Wind
- Photographing San Francisco’s Botanical Gardens With An Extension Tube
6) Clean and Maintain Your Camera Gear
It goes without saying that a badly maintained camera can fail at any time, so you should do your best to learn how to regularly clean and maintain your camera gear. We have written a number of articles on this topic, so we recommend that you check them all out:
- How to Clean SLR Camera Lenses
- What to Do with Dust Inside Lens
- How to Wet Clean your DSLR Sensor in Less Than 5 Minutes (video tutorial)
- How to Clean DSLR Sensor and Keep Your Camera Gear Clean (video tutorial)
- How to Use and Care for Memory Cards
- How to Store Memory Cards
- Dead vs Stuck vs Hot Pixels
- Camera Maintenance: Is Proactive Maintenance Worth It?
- Nikon Quality Control Issues
7) Learn Nomenclature and Apply Camera-Specific Settings
For more in-depth articles on specific nomenclature and abbreviations, along with recommended camera settings for a number of different cameras, please see our detailed articles below:
- Nikon Lens Abbreviations
- Canon Lens Abbreviations
- Sigma Lens Abbreviations
- Fuji Lens Abbreviations
- Sony Lens Abbreviations
- Nikon DSLR Error Messages
- How to fix blinking “Err” error on new Nikon DSLR Cameras
- How to Enable Nikon’s “One-Click Zoom” Feature
- Recommended Nikon D750 Settings
- Recommended Nikon D810 Settings
- Recommended Nikon D800 / D800E Settings
- Recommended Nikon D600 / D610 Settings
- Recommended Nikon D7100 Settings
- Recommended Canon 6D Settings
- Recommended Canon 7D Mark II Settings
- Recommended Canon 5D Mark IV Settings
- Recommended Sony A7R II Settings
- Recommended Sony A6000 Settings
- How to Find Total Shutter Actuations on Nikon and Canon DSLRs
- Focal Length Comparison on Nikon DX (1.5 crop factor) Cameras
- How to Update Firmware on Nikon DSLR
8) Other Useful Articles
We have a lot more content that covers everything from lens filters all the way to building and maintaining a photography blog, so please check out the links below!
8.1) Lens Filters
- Lens Filters Explained
- Do Filters Affect the Resolution of Lenses?
- Not All Lens Filters Are The Same
- Are Polarizing, ND and UV Filters Useless?
- Must-Have Filters for Landscape Photography
8.2) PC and Mac Recommendations
- PC vs Mac for Photography
- How to Buy an Apple MacBook for Photography
- How to Buy an Apple iMac for Photography
- The Ultimate PC Build for Photography Needs
8.3) Cell Phone Photography
8.4) Photography Tours
- Choosing and Preparing for a Photography Tour – Part I
- Choosing and Preparing for a Photography Tour – Part II
8.5) Case Study Series
- Case Study: Shooting NYC Skyline
- Case Study: Skin Color Problems
- Case Study: Image Spots and Streaks
- Case Study: Bird Photography
- Case Study: Image Quality
- Case Study: Exposure at Night
- Case Study: Night Shot
8.6) “How Was This Picture Made” Series
- How Was This Picture Made #1? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #2? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #3? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #4? (The Answer
- How Was This Picture Made #5? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #6? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #7? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #8? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #9? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #10? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #11? (The Answer)
- How Was This Picture Made #12? (The Answer)
8.7) Photography FAQ Series
8.8) Hardware and Software Tips
- How to Upgrade to Windows 10
- Basic Image Backup Tips for Beginners
- Photography Backup Workflow
- How to Significantly Reduce Your Backup Needs
- Storage Considerations for Photography
- Cloud Storage for Photographers
- How to Recover Deleted Photographs From Memory Cards
- What is EXIF Data?
- How to remove EXIF Data?
- How to Organize Pictures
- DNG vs RAW format
- NVMe vs SSD vs HDD Performance
- How to view DNG thumbnails in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
- RAW vs JPEG format
- Nikon RAW (NEF) Codec for 64 bit Vista or Windows 7
8.9) Color Management and Printing
- How to Calibrate Your Monitor
- The Basics of Monitor Calibration
- What is a 30-bit Photography Workflow?
- Best Monitor for Photography
- Is your Browser Color-Managed?
- How to Properly Calibrate Dell U2413 / U2713H / U3014 Monitors
- Is it Worth Buying a Large Format Printer?
8.10) Building and Maintaining a Photography Blog
- How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 1
- How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 2
- How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 3
- How to Create a Photography Blog – Part 4
- How to Deal with Restrictive Photo Policies
- Know Your Rights as a Photographer!
- Know Thy Rights: Photography Abroad
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