Teaching yourself photography can help you learn some valuable lessons the hard way, so this is an assurance that you will never forget them. If you are just starting out or you want to take photography to the next level, then these tips can help you in one way or another. Sometimes taking photos can be handy in most situations. For instance, rather than relying on stock photos, you could take your own photos and incorporate them into your work.

Understand Your Camera’s Manual

It is very important that you read and understand your camera’s manual. If you are buying a used camera, then it probably does not have a manual. If you are really serious about photography, then you could buy a new one that includes a user’s manual.

Maybe there is a point where you thought that you are already familiar with how most cameras work. However, it is still recommended that you should read every page of your user’s manual. When you are done, then you can read it again. Some people think that they are too good for the manual, but there are some reasons why reading your manual is important.

You have to familiarize yourself with every aspect of your camera. When you are already familiar with your camera, then it won’t get in your way. Obviously, you don’t want to be fiddling around with your camera, when you are taking photos, contemplating on your subject, or composing your shot. This can make you look foolish and at the same time, you will be killing your shot, before getting the chance to take it.

Look For Something to Shoot

Ultimately, there is no point in having a camera, if you don’t use it for taking photos. You are only wasting your time, money, and energy on buying a camera if you don’t have a subject. You could create a need in which photos should be taken, such as going out into the world to take photographs. Creating these situations is your active choice being a photographer. Finding your subject is very important. Did you know that your subject will say a lot more than what you think?

Your subject will tell the people that this is what you saw when you were there. As a photographer, you are not only capturing the moments in a story, but you are also capturing your own moments in your story. Your photographs will put you in a certain space and time in such a way that you will become your own subject.

Cameras Are Just Cameras

Of course, cameras are made of superior materials such as glass, plastic, and magnesium. It contains different dials and buttons. While it may seem that it is a super cool gadget, yet it is simply a lightbox that has a hole on the front.

Regardless of how technologically advanced cameras are, it still requires a photographer that will press its buttons, set its dials, and points it at something interesting. Come to think of it, when NASA sent out cameras into space known as Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, it still needed to be operated by the people on Earth, regardless of how technologically advanced they are.

What this means is that the camera doesn’t make the photographer. It won’t matter if you are using a plastic toy camera or a highly expensive DSLR. The bottom line is, when people are looking at a picture, they will determine if it is bad or good based on the photographer not on the equipment being used. They are going to judge the photographer who took the shot.

There haven’t been any changes to the principles of photography ever since it was first introduced during the 1860s. Consequently, it is all about knowing how to control the light that will pass through the recording medium and lens. Nevertheless, there are still some misconceptions that technology is responsible for creating good photography. The fact is, the technology is the spark, while the fire is being kept alive by the photographer.

Learning About Exposure

Simply put, exposure is simply the combination of Aperture, Shutter speed, and Film speed. All of these variables are the ones controlling the amount of light that gets in contact with your camera’s sensor or film. The heart and soul of every photograph lie in the perfect combination of these variables.

However, a lot has been written about exposure. This is because even photographers who have less experience have their own opinions when it comes to exposure. That is why it would be great if you can find your own way of understanding the fundamentals of exposure. You should try to learn it on your own terms until the time will come that you will be able to apply it when taking your photos. You could learn it by taking a class or reading a book. In any case, you must be able to learn exposure properly so that you will be aware of which rules to break.

Photography has a lot of technical aspects which include measurements, numbers, rules, meters, and science. While there is a purpose to all of this, it does not necessarily mean that you have to use them on your own work as a photographer.

Understanding Composition

Learning to compose a shot is not as simple as framing your subject on your viewfinder. While this is always the case, yet it also involves color, motion, feel, emotion, and lots of other variables. You may have done everything, taken all the photography classes, and followed all the rules on how to take a good photo.

However, when something is not right in your photo, then there is probably something that is not just right. On the other hand, if the photo looks good, then for sure it is good because the photo does not lie. That is why it would be great if you can learn the basics of composition and look for a way to apply them to your own work. You have to learn it, understand it and apply it or abuse it. Do whatever you want to do so you can make your work great.

Take All the Time You Need

Judging by the way how cameras work, it’s very easy to think that photography is all about capturing that brief moment. In fact, you can observe this idea in the ad campaigns of camera manufacturers. However, this can be misleading due to a lot of reasons.

First of all, that moment can only be brief if you are not ready for it. Also, if you are a photographer with a purpose, then you should always be ready since this is your job. Photojournalists used to say, “f/8 and be there.” In other words, you have to appear on the scene and set the aperture of your camera at f/8 which is considered magical.

Furthermore, “being there” does not only refer to the location itself. It also means that you have to be emotionally, mentally, and psychologically there. In other words, you have to take your time to set up the shot and prepare yourself. This way, you will be ready to capture that brief moment and time will not be a factor anymore. Come to think of it, those “lucky shots” are not actually lucky shots. They were captured with the presence of mind.

One of the painful lessons that you can learn would be when you are in a hurry to take an outdoor shot because you are afraid that there will be not enough light anymore. Maybe you are feeling a bit pressured if there are a lot of people waiting for you. It seems that you are chasing that brief moment, and as a result, your pictures will likely turn out to be a disappointment.

Just keep in mind that even if you feel that there is a limited window of time to take the shot, the fact is, you actually have all the time that you need. Just slow down and think about what you are doing. Pressing that button only takes a split second, that is why you have to take a few minutes of your time to set up and prepare for that shot.

Always Smile


Most people consider a camera as a threatening object due to the fact that there could be an invasion of privacy. Cameras can capture anything, including people’s actions, memorable moments, as well as things that people don’t want to record. This means that when people are in front or behind a camera, they always feel exposed and vulnerable.

Cameras do not censor or discriminate. It will capture anything that is laid in front of its lens. That is why it will be the job of the photographer to keep the people at ease while they are in front or around a camera. One of the best ways to do this is to smile at them sincerely. A smile can go a long way. It will show that you are friendly, and you are not abusing the privilege of taking their photos.

If you want to know more about the fundamentals of photography, then you can take photo lessons at My Photo Lesson. You may reach us at 720-581-4461 or send us an email at [email protected].

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