Updated: Jun 5, 2019
One of the most common questions I get is about beginning in photography, and I'm not surprised. It's a daunting thing to get into; so many settings, so many rules, so much equipment.
The largest mistake anyone can make in photography is not shooting because they are too scared to learn. Just do it. Just pick up your camera/phone/whatever you can use and shoot. Don't worry about anything, just take photos you like and you'll naturally learn over time. Photography purists may vomit in their mouths with that advice (and trust me there are plenty out there), but we ain’t got time fo' that.
So you've gone out, taken some photos and decided you like it, what next? Youtube. There's an astounding abundance of knowledge on Youtube, in fact I learnt everything I know from Youtube. Start by learning the basics of a camera (for example, shutter speed, aperture and ISO), and some basic photography rules (rule of thirds). Just keep browsing through and finding more and more information about photography and everything it entails. Google is also your friend.
Still into photography after a couple weeks/months of playing? Awesome. Let's do the fun part; spend money.
The number one question I get on Instagram is always: what camera do you use? I have a lot of empathy for that question, I've been there and know how it feels to place such importance on a camera. The truth is though, any camera is good. Pick up a cheap secondhand DSLR for $350 or so off TradeMe, eBay, etc with a decent lens (we'll get to lenses soon), and you'll have a good quality picture. The huge misconception of better camera = better photos is rubbish. Your average camera vs a professional top-of-the-line camera is hardly noticeable once you compress the hell out of the file for it to be on Instagram anyway.
I started with my poppa’s Canon 650D, it struggled to autofocus on just about anything – I learnt how to manually focus and steady my camera due to the extreme lack of stabilisation and awful ISO. I then upgraded to a Sony a6500. A crop sensor camera. I started off commercial jobs with this camera and not once did I have a complaint about the quality. Exceptional camera that is fairly cheap and great range of lenses. I’m now using a Sony A7iii, a gorgeous camera that is extremely sharp, has amazing autofocus, stabilisation and awesome ISO. Very very happy. There’s no answer as to what camera to get and what order to get it – your financial situation is the most important aspect here and your ambitions in photography/videography. Want to use it commercially? I’d go full frame. Hobby? APS-C is just fine. Obviously there’s a lot of variables involved but each person has different needs in a camera, I’d make a list on what is important to you and find a camera that meets those.
Lenses. Invest into lenses. This is important. Get yourself a lens that has a large focal range to start with. You’ll hardly take it off as it's so versatile and you can use it for anything. If you're starting out or just wondering around, the last thing you want to be doing is switching between lenses, trust me on that one. The less gear, the better. Once you've started to get better, get yourself some nice, fast (low aperture) prime lenses. Prime lenses are fixed focal length lenses that generally have a lower aperture (lower the better). You can use this for more specialised types of photography, by this time you'll know what focal ranges are good for different types of photography.
Get Adobe Lightroom. Editing is a massive part of photography. Software like Lightroom is pretty affordable and very user friendly. From beginners to pros, there is something for everyone. PLEASE don't get it just to buy some generic Youtuber/Instagrammer's presets. You're wasting your time and not learning/developing your own style. Use them to learn, see the settings they are using and understand what they did to achieve that look - then apply it yourself.
Showcase your work. When I started out, I was petrified of showing off my work. I was scared of judgement or using hashtags and it was just stupid. My (then) girlfriend started an Instagram for me which I kept external from anyone I knew. Eventually my following increased and my confidence grew and eventually shared it with my friends. Since then, whenever I see friends I'll get compliments about my photos or questions/chats about all things photography. It's awesome. I've also met some amazing friends on these mediums and learnt an awful lot from them.
Most importantly, enjoy it. Photography is something you can do to express yourself and show your perspective of the world, and it is hugely rewarding, enjoyable and will allow you to see some incredible things. Don't overthink it, it is easy to give excuses on why not to shoot but take a step back and realise literally the only way to get better is by shooting.
You can do it - I believe in you. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
Ya boy, Logan xo