Pursuing his own passion for photography for years, Michael Lehrke has learned first-hand what it takes to begin a hobby in photography and what elements are most important at first. Below, he shares a few insightful tips with readers to help fuel their new hobby and start things off on the right foot.
As Michael Lehrke will tell you, learning to be a professional photographer isn’t easy work, and it takes plenty of time and practice to develop proficiency with a camera. However, that didn’t stop him from learning the ropes on his own for years, developing a thorough understanding of the craft.
“Like anything, photography requires regular practice, but it also requires certain knowledge about light, lenses, camera controls, and more,” says Michael Lehrke. “It’s may feel daunting to look at all that’s required to start out, but all it really takes to master is practice and a bit of research.”
Purchasing a Camera
Today, our smartphones have better cameras than ever, and most come with a few cinematic features that allow even amateur photographers to take beautiful shots on the go. While some beginner hobbyists may feel the need to purchase a camera, most can learn the basics on their phones.
“Photography doesn’t have to be expensive! If you do decide to purchase a camera, you’ll want to spend as little money as you can at first,” says Michael Lehrke. “A new or used $300 DSLR is a great camera to learn with. You may want to graduate to better models as you improve, however you might find that an inexpensive camera does the job. I’ve found the buying guides on YouTube to be especially helpful; they contain recommendations and side-by-side examples of the photos produced from various cameras.”
Experimenting with Lighting
Most novices know how to point and shoot but don’t really understand how lighting affects the overall outcome of an image. Smartphones tend to auto-adjust all the settings for the photographer, while more professional-style equipment leaves plenty of options for photographers to play around with. Lehrke suggests experimenting by taking pictures at different times of the day in different settings, taking note of how a cloudy sky or direct sunlight can alter a picture.
“Also, note the differences between natural and artificial light. Whenever possible, try to maximize and shoot with natural sunlight. You’ll find that your photos have more depth when you do this,” Mike Lehrke says.
Eventually, if your goal is to shoot portraits or other shots in a studio, you can experiment with lighting using industry tools like key lights and fillers.
Using Photo Editing Software
Even great shots may need to be touched up in an editing program to achieve clarity or a certain quality or effect. Even if shooting conditions are far from ideal, programs like Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom can help photographers brighten or darken images, manipulate quality, add in effects, change or enhance colors, and much more.
While you don’t have to use a photo editing software to take phenomenal pictures, even novices can achieve professional-quality photos by learning to alter digital photos through editing programs.
“These are all important components for photography novices, and those who are seriously interested in the field will only benefit from experimenting with each of these elements over time,” says Mr. Lehrke. “Photo software makers always offer free trials, and have very generous education discounts for students and faculty with a college, high school, or middle school ID.”