18 Photography Ideas for Beginners

Posted on October 3, 2019 | Updated on June 11, 2024

Are you looking for a new hobby? Try photography! This art form has been around for decades, starting with film and evolving to virtual media in the digital era. Once you get your hands on a camera, getting started isn’t hard. Discover the 18 photography ideas for beginners below.

1. Read About Your Camera

If you already have a camera, that’s great. Before you rush outside or bug your furry friend, read the manual. Flip through the pages and learn what you can about your camera model and settings. How do you zoom, focus and turn off the flash? Can you access photos you’ve already taken? If you find you like the hobby, you can invest in upgraded equipment later.

2. Understand Aperture

The f-stop, also called aperture, controls how much light passes through the camera lens. A medium or wide aperture lets in more light than a small one. Small apertures can make an effect known as diffraction, giving your photo a softened, professional quality. A wide aperture, on the other hand, is ideal for separating a subject from the background.

3. Watch the Light

Lighting is critical in photography. It dictates the contrast, colors and shadows in your images. As a beginner, the best option is to play with natural light. Head outside during the golden hour — one hour before sunset or after sunrise — to capture draw-dropping scenes.

4. Learn to Focus

If you want to take sharp images that mirror professional photography, then you need to learn to focus. Focus is related to aperture, one of the photography ideas for beginners we just talked about. Professional photographers claim f/8 with a normal lens will ensure everything in your shot is in focus. If you use the auto-focus feature, choose a small group of focal points — as opposed to just one — for the best balance.

5. Play With Angles

One of the best photography ideas for beginners is to play around with angles. You never know what new perspective you might capture. Crouch down low to the ground or stand on top of a bench. Be selective about what you want to include in the frame to ensure your picture is interesting.

6. Stabilize Equipment

Don’t let shaky hands ruin your photos. Instead, invest in equipment that will help you capture the perfect shot. A tripod, used for food photography and long-exposure shots of the night sky, stabilizes your chosen camera and produces a crisper image. If you plan to use a smartphone, you may only need a tabletop tripod.

7. Keep Both Eyes Open

When you’re looking through the rangefinder on your camera, keep both your eyes open. If you’re taking portraits, this will help you maintain a connection with the subject and get the perfect amount of eye exposure. It also lets you monitor what’s outside the frame, allowing you to predict possible interruptions or impromptu photo ops.

8. Know the Rules

One of the most important photography ideas for beginners is the rule of thirds. Select the grid-view option on your camera and choose a display of two vertical and two horizontal lines, breaking the image into thirds. The goal is to align one of the subjects with a vertical line. For landscapes, align scenes with the horizontal lines.

9. Change Color Settings

If you have a digital camera, you can change the color profile in the settings. First, ensure all your other settings — like contrast, sharpness and saturation — are to your liking. Then, adjust the tones in an image until you achieve your desired look. Some cameras also come with preset color options, such as vivid or standard.

10. Discover White Balance

Have you ever seen an image with an awkward blue twinge? This indicates a photographer who didn’t read photography ideas for beginners and forgot to set their white balance. The white balance is related to color temperature. A high color temperature creates a blue hue, while a low one creates red. If you want to take studio-worthy photos, look up how to set the white balance in the manual.

11. Play With Reflections

You’ve already thought about perspective and how to utilize angles. Have you considered playing with reflections? Use a wet surface, like a pond or puddle, to create an otherworldly scene. You can also play with texture by disrupting the water and catching the undulated view.

12. Search for a Subject

When you first start, you may not know what to shoot. Experiment with a wide variety of subjects. Photography ideas for beginners include a walk around town to capture historic buildings or a portrait session with a muse. You can also try your hand at landscapes and get in touch with nature.

13. Invest in Gaffer’s Tape

Gaffer’s tape is a godsend in the photography world. You can use it to attach lights to small props or hold backdrops in place. If your equipment should break, it can be used as a quick fix while in the field. Unlike duct tape, it doesn’t leave behind a sticky mess.

14. Use a Remote Shutter

If you plan to use a tripod, you’ll want to invest in a remote shutter. This tiny button, when pressed, triggers the lens. It’s ideal if you’re going to maneuver yourself into the frame. Look for a wireless remote shutter than can be tucked into your pocket for easy transportation.

15. Always Be Ready

With photography, as with life, you never know what’s going to happen. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the right moment to snap a shot. If you want to capture spontaneous, candid pictures, keep your camera in semi- or full-auto mode, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

16. Focus on the Eyes

When people look at a photo, they look at the eyes — the supposed window to the soul. With a portrait photograph, make sure the eyes are in focus. It’s a natural focal point the audience can connect with. Plus, the practice will help your subject matter come to life.

17. Edit Your Photos

Typically, photography ideas for beginners end once you’ve taken the photo. What happens after, however, is just as important. With your preferred photo editing software, you can crop and straighten images. Adjust white balance, exposure and contrast. You can make colors more vibrant with saturation settings. Don’t forget to share your new masterpiece when you’re done.

18. Make Lots of Mistakes

With anything new, you’re going to make mistakes — you’re only human. Instead of classifying it as a negative, consider it a learning opportunity. The best photographers are the ones out there breaking the rules and trying new things. Along the way, they make mistakes. Nevertheless, the result is something unique.

Do you dream of becoming a professional photographer? You can get there! Follow the photography ideas for beginners above to get started. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Before you know it, you’ll be producing studio-quality shots that people love.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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