There is much to learn when it comes to photography. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, there is no such thing as “too much practice”.
If you want to learn how to take better pictures, there are some basic concepts you must first understand. This article features the different elements of photography, tips from professional photographers and more!
Table of Contents
- Exposure & the 3 Main Elements of Photography
- Should You Buy a Brand New Camera?
- Joining Photography Groups
- Do Not Internalise Critique
- Buying Photography Accessories
- Developing An Eye for Photography; Composition
- Purchasing a Good SD Card
- Photo Processing
- Advice From Professional Photographers
- Professional Advice on Starting a Photography Hobby
Exposure & the 3 Main Elements of Photography
If you are just starting out, think of this as your first mission. Learning about exposure and the 3 main elements of photography will help you gain more control and produce better quality photos.
There are three elements that work hand in hand to create exposure. They are aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
Aperture is the hole inside your lens where light passes through. To make it easier for you to understand, think about the pupil of your eye. The wider the aperture, the more light is allowed in.
As the aperture widens, the f/number gets lower and more light is allowed into the camera. The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.
Once light passes through the aperture, it reaches the shutter. Here, you can decide how much light you actually want in the shot. Shutter speed is the length of time when the film/digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light.
After light passes through the aperture and is filtered by the shutter, it meets the sensor. As the ISO number increases, exposure is increased. However, your photo will become more grainy as photo quality decreases.
Should You Buy a Brand New Camera?
If you have just recently taken an interest in photography or you are unsure whether you truly have a passion for it, consider purchasing a second-hand camera instead. Do not let the term “second hand” fool you, cameras at most second-hand stores are conditioned before they are sold. This means they are restored, and still perfectly capable of taking great photos. An example of a reliable second-hand camera store in Singapore is P & G Camera.
Additionally, most professional photographers would recommend using a manual camera, as it gives a better sense of control.
However, if you wish to purchase a new camera, it is recommended that you go to photography/camera stores instead of a general electronics retailer. This is because the staff at general electronics stores are unlikely to be able to give in-depth information about photography and cameras. Therefore, consider places like TK Foto and Alan Photo. These are shops that both long-term hobbyists and professionals recommend.
Although taking note of the specifications are important, they are not the be-all, end-all of photography. The grip, weight and size of your camera are also things that play a part in your photography experience. This leads to our next point, joining a photography group.
Joining Photography Groups
At this point, you might be wondering if you need your own camera to join a photography group. There is always the option of borrowing a camera from someone you know first, especially if you are unsure about which model you are interested in purchasing. Not only will this allow you to receive first-hand feedback on your shots, you will also be able to try out different cameras to see which model best suits your needs.
Furthermore, photography groups often organise outings whereby you can practice and learn from your peers. Examples of photography groups in Singapore are Shutter Journey and Photographic Society of Singapore.
Do Not Internalise Critique
As you gather feedback from your peers and followers online, remember that photography is subjective. While it is good to be open to feedback, you should never let it dictate your photography journey. After all, hobbies are supposed to bring you joy!
Buying Photography Accessories
When you are first starting out as a hobbyist, there is no need to rush to purchase a variety of photography accessories. The lens that come along with your camera is definitely good enough for starters. However, there are a couple of, things you could consider purchasing. Tripods and Camera Straps are two of such basic accessories that could greatly help you kickstart your photography adventure.
Camera straps are not just fashion pieces. Wearing them around your neck or wrist will reduce the likelihood of your camera dropping.
Avoid ridiculously cheap tripods. If they are unable to properly support your camera, the damage will cost you more. That being said, you do not have to spend a fortune on a tripod. $100-200 should be more than enough to get you a decent one.
Developing An Eye for Photography; Composition
Change what you see in the viewfinder by moving to a different angle or zooming. Composition is about the arrangement of elements used. You don’t have to follow all these rules, but it helps to learn them.
Rule of Thirds
Divide your camera’s frame into thirds. When you plant key objects along these lines, it makes things appear more pleasing to the eye.
Shapes are important in photography. Triangles are great compositional tools as they are easy to find. They appear in almost everything we see. Distinguishing shapes and manipulating them can change the meaning of your photos.
What are you most drawn to when you look at a photo? That is visual weight. This is not so much of a tool, but a concept to think about.
How can you frame and position objects to direct your viewer’s vision where you want?
Balance can either evoke feelings of relaxation or unease. This can be powerful when you want to bring a message across.
Eye-lines are the direction in which your subject’s eyes are pointed towards. The space in front of their face is called “lead room”. This brings focus to a certain part of the photo.
Purchasing a Good SD Card
Every camera requires an SD card. Don’t make the mistake of buying the cheapest one on the market, because a bad SD card can slow your camera down or even put your files at risk of corruption. The good news is, SD Cards are widely available. You can find them on online shopping platforms such as Shopee and Lazada, or in physical camera/electronics stores.
It is best to do some research on SD Card types before you make a purchase. Some, like SanDisk Extreme, are affordable and won’t wreck your data, while others like the Lexar Professional 1000x UHS-II SDHC, are great for fast uploads.
Although there is nothing wrong with editing your photos, it might be best to refrain from doing so in the beginning. Filters can easily tweak the colour of your photos, which might result in a lack of understanding of photography elements. Raw photos will allow you to see whether the white balance was adequate, whether your angles are good etc.
Once you have familiarized yourself with the exposure triangle and photography techniques, you may consider downloading software such as Lightroom or Photoshop to enhance your photos.
Advice From Professional Photographers
Steven, Professional Event & Corporate Photographer
Steven started out his event photography journey as a hobbyist. He first picked up the camera with hopes of being able to teach his mother how to take photographs. Once he started, he was hooked. He began to explore various types of photography styles and eventually found his own.
After gaining a wealth of experience in the service industry, he made a new commitment to pursue his passion by taking on his career in photography. Steven has been a professional photographer for many years now and has never looked back since.
To beginners, he says to never give up and always remain humble.
Clinton, Professional Event & Corporate Photographer
Clinton’s event photography journey began in school, where he was in a photography club. After he had graduated, he worked as a wedding assistant, capturing beautiful photographs for the following three years. The job allowed him to confirm his interest and strengthen his skills.
Wanting to move onto other forms of photography, Clinton joined Vivid Snaps. He is now a professional corporate and event photographer here.
To those just starting out, Clinton emphasised that passion is the root of everything. If you are keen in pursuing photography, it must be because you enjoy it. Working solely for the profit will not make you happy, nor bring you far.
Professional Advice on Starting a Photography Hobby
We hope you have found this article helpful in learning the basics of photography. Ultimately, developing a skill takes practice. The more you incorporate the lessons you’ve learned into your photoshoots, the better you will become.