Even though I have been doing photography for about seven years I still consider myself an amateur because there’s just so much I don’t know yet. Since there is such a vast amount of people who consider themselves to be amateurs I whipped up a list of my top five tips for amateur photographers. This list can also be for people who want to start getting into photography but only have an iPhone (like me) or can’t afford the expensive equipment, software, or classes (also like me).
1.) Educate yourself on the equipment you have.
As I stated above I use an iPhone 8 Plus (well, it’s my boyfriend’s) which has a pretty decent camera and is all I can afford at the moment so it will do. Whether you are using a smart phone or a camera it is important to become familiar with your device. This means understanding how the zoom, lighting, and coloration works. Sometimes cameras and smart phones have similar camera modes so familiarize yourself with these modes:
- Sports mode
Although most amateur photographers shoot in auto or default mode, it is still good to at least try out the other modes. Not only is it important to educate yourself on your device but also your add on equipment. There is a lot that can go into getting that perfect photo but it could be the difference between knowing your equipment or not. Don’t worry about all the fancy stuff until you’re comfortable with the basics, i.e:
2.) Don’t force it.
Just like drawing or painting, photography is not an art form that you want to force just to put something out. Don’t get me wrong, creating is important, but it is also important not to burn yourself out by snapping photos of any and everything. Also don’t try to alter or force a change in your style or interest because certain styles are becoming more popular. It is important to stand behind your work! It’s one thing to make slight changes to your style but don’t throw it all away because you want to keep up with the trends! Stick to what interests you and what you understand. Whether you’re pursuing a career in photography or it’s just a hobby you want to make sure that it’s enjoyable.
3.) YouTube, YouTube, Youtube
Believe it or not, Youtube can be an amateur’s best friend if used correctly. If you’re someone who can’t afford to take photography classes or may be too young, then YouTube would be the perfect alternative. I will admit there are some pros and cons to get information from YouTube though. Here are some things to look out for:
- SO MUCH INFORMATION– YouTube is huge and it is very easy to get caught in an endless vortex of informative videos which doesn’t sound so bad it actually seems pretty cool, but trust me watching video after video will do nothing but overwhelm your brain making it hard to retain that knowledge!
- FALSE INFORMATION– When looking for videos on YouTube, there are a couple of things to look out for. The amount of views and likes a video has can play a big part in the quality of the video. Do remember though, don’t just go off of this, be sure to watch the actual video!
The dislikes and comments on a video will also help in determining whether or not the video is informative. Look out for these four things to save you time when looking for videos that make the learning easy and aren’t just putting out false information. As I mentioned before, the comment section on YouTube videos can be quite helpful when trying to ask more questions about the video or trying to connect with other photographers who you could receive or give advice to.
Some YouTubers I like are:
- Peter McKinnon and Saurav Sinha
4.) Create a platform.
So after you take your photos and edit them, what happens next? Where do your photos go? Just like other art forms, you want to have a portfolio of some sort, but it is also good to have a place to post/advertise your photos. Creating a place where you can display your photos is good whenever it comes to sharing your work with potential partners, buyers, and the general public. Whether it be a website, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. it is good to throw yourself into a community where you can receive the proper praise and criticism to grow as a photographer. Having a platform is also good whenever it comes to tracking your progress. There is no harm in going back to see how much you’ve grown and learned over time.
5.) Keep yourself inspired.
Me being someone who draws, writes, and does photography, it gets hard to keep myself inspired sometimes. There are a lot of factors that can go into feeling unmotivated and uninspired.
Creative Block and Burnout
This is something I experience often as an artist, especially after I’ve been feeling really inspired. I find that the best way to deal with this is not to go all in at once. It can be very exciting to become suddenly inspired or to learn something new, but it is important to take it slow avoiding a potential burn out which could lead to a creative block. Creative block can be very tricky as it is different every time it is experienced. Two things I always try to do is to take at least one photo a day, and whether you think it’s nice or bad just play around with it in your favorite editing software or apps. Believe it or not this will help you to become more creative. The other thing I like to do whenever I am experiencing creative block is surround myself with things that interest me or I’m passionate about. I am a photographer who focuses solely on nature, so whenever I feel lost creatively, being outside or looking at photos of wildlife tends to inspire me. Just taking time to remind yourself of what fuels your creativity is helpful when trying to regain that inspiration.
It is easy to feel discouraged, especially being an amateur photographer. It is easy to look at a well established photographer and compare your work with theirs. This is something that happens outside of the photography world as well. “I will never be that good” or “If only I had the proper equipment” are things I would constantly say to myself, which would make me lose motivation and just feel bad about myself as an artist. It is important to understand that it is common to feel this way, probably more so because we are amateurs who have so much to learn and have so much more room to grow. You cannot allow the success of others to bring you down because although this is all just one big competition, we need to help each other thrive as artists.
So those were the tips I have for any amateur photographers or anyone interested in photography. I am not a professional or anything like that, just a girl who loves taking photos. I hope that these tips are helpful in someway since I did make the list I would’ve wanted to read when I first started. I wanted the tips to be a mixture of information and the motivation because being an artist can be very difficult sometimes so I know how much a little inspiration and motivational words can go.
If you would like to follow me and my photography feel free to follow my Instagram page. I still have yet to fully create a main home for my photography but this is where it all is for now.
Best of luck to all of the photographers out there.