From time to time I come across a willing new photographer who has just bought his first camera and is looking for advice on where to start. Unfortunately, quite often a broad request such as “What I should do first?” is often directed at social media. It should not come as a surprise that we are all eager to help, regardless of our knowledge or expertise. After all, photography can’t be that hard, can it?
However, some communal advice I encounter wakes up the worst of my human instincts. Calm down Olaf, no need to go berserk!
Today, I am not going to write a long, in-depth article but let me share some simple advice for those of you who have bought your first camera and don’t have a clue what to do next.
- No, your first step should not be learning Photoshop!
- No, you should not worry about sharpening settings!
- No, you don’t need all those accessories everyone is trying to sell you.
- No, you don’t need this $500 camera bag to impress your friends.
Here is what you should do.
- Yes, read the manual.
- Yes, get to know your camera.
- Yes, read about shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation.
- Yes, read tons of photographic, non-technical books.
Most importantly, find a small city plaza, street corner or a sport park near your home. Take your new camera with you and visit the same location daily or as often as you can.
Observe the light throughout the day and see how things change as the sun moves across the horizon. Try photographing this one location for a few weeks every day. Play with exposure compensation and learn to master the light. Then start imagining how the same scene would look if you underexpose (make the picture darker) or overexpose (make the picture brighter). Don’t be afraid to go crazy with the exposure compensation dial (read about it in your camera’s manual and use it).
Keep arranging the same elements in as many ways as you can. Try to construct your images from the fewest items possible (hint: focus on shapes, lines, etc.). Think as if you were designing a puzzle by changing your perspective.
The bottom line is this: learn to observe, get to know how light interacts with elements around you and compose simple imagery! Then go from there.
Below please find imagery containing a minimal number of elements. I enjoy this type of visual discovery as it helps me to train my eye to see the light, line and perspective. After all, that’s all you need.
San Francisco – November 2018
Sydney – late 2018
Make sure to reserve your spot early!
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