How to Get Into Photography?
Thousands of guides are floating on the internet on how to get into photography. And I am sure there are as many books written on that topic.
This guide isn’t meant to be a synopsis of them, and neither it’s a generalistic view of the topic. This practical guide will help you take the first few steps correctly and build your career based on taking those steps in the right direction.
If you’ve some space to spare, you can set up a small home studio for portrait photography. Portrait photography is one of the most lucrative photography genres out there. It requires very little equipment, and you probably already have what is necessary to start.
All you need is a camera, a lens, and a large window that gets abundant light. If you don’t have a large window, you can get a single light with a light modifier set-up on a stand, and you will have a professional set-up that can offer you employment the whole year round.
2. Get a printed portfolio ready.
Photographers often don’t put a lot of emphasis on a printed portfolio. Nowadays, with social media and the power of technology, not many of us think of printing photos. After all, when you can send a picture to all your friends in the blink of an eye, why even bother?
The thing is, you should, and the reason is a printed photo is a novelty. Photos were always meant to be printed, held in hand, and looked at from no more than 12 inches away. It was intended to be personal and tangible; you could touch and smell it.
Today, thanks to technology, that personal touch is no longer there. A printed portfolio, therefore, comes as something that immediately gets attention.
3. Shoot everything and anything that fancies you.
Finding a style isn’t something that happens overnight. You may shoot one genre all your life only to find something different one day and switch to that.
So, what intrigues you now may not continue after a while. Plus, with so many photography genres, it will take some time to put your finger on something and say, this is something I want to do for the rest of my career.
My point is to shoot everything that fancies you until you find something that intrigues you and then continue to shoot that.
Many photographers shoot anything and everything they love. They don’t put tags on themselves or introduce themselves as only shooting one genre. There is nothing wrong with that approach. You could be a passionate wildlife photographer and do weddings for a living. Many photographers do that. They fuel their passion by doing something that brings money in.
4. Invest in editing skills.
I believe in getting the picture right in the camera, but editing techniques have some undeniable benefits. Editing techniques involve doing basic things like white balance adjustment, exposure adjustment, and lens profile corrections, but it also involves much more in-depth adjustments to a photograph.
The world of photo editing is vast, and new techniques and tools, many AI-driven, are being introduced daily.
Although I am not a big fan of heavy editing and retouching, and my techniques are still ‘purist’ at best, it can be safely said that heavy editing has become the norm in commercial photography. It’s also the norm in fashion photography, product photography, and, to a large extent, wedding photography.
Therefore, it has become necessary to learn how to do advanced editing of your images. Sure, there are ways you can outsource this task, but that involves an additional cost that you can least afford to pay at the start of your career. Image editing is a science as much as it’s an art and is driven mainly by personal notions about what’s acceptable and what’s not.
There are no clear boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not, and what is acceptable for someone may not be to another. I prefer to edit an image and leave it alone for at least half a day to come back and give it another look. If I find the results too over the top on the first glace, I tone down the adjustments or otherwise roll with it.
I recommend that you spend some time learning image editing. There are tons of free online resources that you can learn from. Subscribe to some of the popular photo editing channels on YouTube, and you will find so much you can learn from them. The choice of photo editing tools is also many.
From the industry standard Adobe Photoshop to Luminar Neo and AI and DxO Photolab, there is software for every kind of user and every level of understanding. Adobe Photoshop and Luminar’s Neo are two of my favorite tools.
5. Check out other people’s work.
Find good photographers and check out their work. The first step in learning great photography is to prepare your eyes to appreciate good photos. The concept will get clearer as you see more and more good work done by others.
When you look at a great photograph, figure out why that photo works. What are the elements that make it a great photo? Compare pictures you’ve shot with the work of photographers you admire and try to figure out how to improve your work. Head into the World’s Most Famous Photographers article to get some inspiration.
6. Learn the fundamentals of photography.
A good grasp of photography’s fundamentals is essential to learning photography. By fundamentals, I mean having a good grasp of what makes a great exposure, understanding light and how it interacts with a scene, and how to manipulate light to your advantage.
There are two ways to learn the fundamentals of photography. The first one is to join a photography workshop or class. A classroom environment is a great place to learn the basics of photography. It’s a live environment; the interactions are often fast and precise, and the concepts are explained very well. In case of doubts, you can clear them then and there, and it’s a very hands-on approach to learning photography.
The other process is the DIY path, which I did when I started learning photography. Almost all the concepts I learned were self-taught through various resources – online tutorials, books, blogs, and online workshops. I am not saying that the DIY process isn’t good. It’s just that it often takes a bit more time to find the answers to questions.
Hopefully, the techniques and ideas you’ve learned here will help you get your photography career started on the right footing.
These ideas are not meant to be exhaustive. These are merely meant to give you a general pointer towards the right direction and hopefully towards a successful career.
As you grow in stature as a photographer and gain experience, you will figure out many techniques of your own to help you along the way.
7. Determine the Type of Photographer You Want to be
Once you become familiar with your camera, try to decide on the type of photography you want to focus your career on. In the beginning, you don’t necessarily need to make a firm choice about the type of photography you want to pursue. Start with beginner-level photography equipment to maintain control over your budget.
You want to keep things basic in the beginning; as you gain more experience, you will likely end up upgrading your equipment. For instance, camera equipment for a travel photographer will be quite different than the equipment a food photographer or a fashion photographer needs. Remember that each type of photography demands specific equipment, environmental knowledge, and overall expertise.