OR: Can I become a good photographer without spending a lot of money?
Photography is the number one hobby in the world. Most of us love to take pictures. Some of us want to become really good at it. Some of us just want to take memories. For those of us who want to become really good at it, maybe have people “ooh, and aah” at our photos, or even ask for a picture to hang in their house, then we need to know how to become really good at it. So, how do we become good enough to take photos like that?
I have no budget for taking photos. Can I just learn to take good photos with what I have?
It is often said that it is the photographer that makes the photo, not the equipment. And that is true to a point. There are so many photos that I have seen that are just taken with a cell phone that amaze me. I took my wife to the Hair stylist, just at the tail end of major snow storm, and it was in the middle of the city. So, I did not take my camera equipment with me. She only takes about a half an hour, and I really did not want to sit in the beauty shop and listen to a bunch of women talk about blah, blah, blah.. So, I just remembered that the botanical gardens was just a couple of blocks away and all I had was my cell phone. I have a good cell phone with very good optics. So, off I went with what I had. And the results were phenomenal, and I think it was because I knew what I was doing. The winter storm produced a beautiful landscape of winter scenery for me, and I was glad I was there, and I was the first one there to take photos.
Yes, these photos were taken with my cell phone. And there are a couple of things I know to make good photos from my cell phone. And I think every good photographer knows what to do when they don’t have their “good” DSLR camera with them. They know how to take pictures with their cell phone to get good pictures still. So, yes, it is important to know the tricks of how to take good pictures even with your cell phone. Let’s get into that right now:
Know how to take great pictures with what you have, including your own cell phone:
I have been a real advocate lately on this blog that cell phone cameras cannot take the usual photos of what a normal DSLR camera can take. And that is true. A good DSLR camera is amazingly better at taking pictures of certain better than a cell phone. Because of the size of the sensor, there will never be a time when a cell phone will catch up to the quality of a good DSLR. But, it does a great job with what you have. And every time a new top of the line cell phone comes out, they keep improving something about the camera portion of the phone. So, here are some points of taking good photos with your DSLR to help you to become a good photographer with your cell phone:
- At some point, to really make your photos look great with your cell phone, you need to learn all the rules of composition in art and photography. They are meant to make your photos look better. It will teach you the proper placement of subjects in your photo, what to do with lines in your photos, etc. There are many sources of learning that, and I have spent a lot of space on this blog to go over that. Go to the main table of contents of my blog page to find all about composition, or click here: https://123photogo.com/ or more specifically: https://123photogo.com/2018/02/11/part-12-composition-becoming-an-artist/
- When you use your cell phone, the number one problem I find when you use your cell phone, is that you are always handling it with your hands and fingers. Your hands are always all over your phone, including your lens. And your lens on your phone is the most important part of taking the pictures. I almost always cry when I take out my cell phone to take pictures, thinking that I have just been using it for a phone, and not a camera. It has been with me through lunch, out in the yard picking weeds out, shaking other people’s hands, and who knows what. And now I want to take a picture with it? YIKES !! That lens has to be spotless before I take a picture with it.
- Study good photos that you have seen. Are there good photos that are really good, taken by cell phone users? That is a good question. I am going to give you another link. I have started a link for a group of photographers to post their photos. I wanted only good photographers to post their photos on this group page. I would screen these photographers to make sure they were taking really good photos, and worthy to be called good photographers. As this collection of photographers started to grow, I found that about 2/3 of these photographers were taking these photos with their cell phones and submitting them. I don’t even know if they have good DSLR cameras, but the photos they are submitting are really good, and they are all from cell phones. Here is the link so you can see some good photos from cell phone, from people claiming to be good photographers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/162729727828362/?ref=bookmarks But, also, learn from other websites from other photographers, so you can learn about good photography. This website has always had a good variety of good photos and collections of great photos, including every Thursday, a collection of “Photos of the Week”.
Learn to get confindence in photos that you shoot :
I don’t care who you ask that is either a self proclaimed professional, or a just a good serious photographer, they will all tell you the biggest hurdle you must overcome is gaining confidence in yourself. Whoa, that is a big one. So, how do you do that? Well, you do that by doing the things you do know, and focus on that, and run with that. Say you know how to take pictures of your kids really well. All of your pictures you take of your kids seems to be just amazing. So, why not look at photos of other photographers that take pictures of kids, and try that even more on your own, and you will perfect that subject until you are really, really good. Now, you are starting to develop confidence, because you will find that others will notice the great work that you do. Look at what the masters do. Look at portraits of children that have been taken professionally. Look how children are posed. Notice that it is hard to pose children.
If you find some other thing that you think you are talented in photography: scenery, landscape photography, and you think you are good at it, maybe you have an eye for it and don’t know it. Maybe you should look at what other great scenery photographers do, and learn more about it. This website has had some great blogs about that too.
Pick a subject you already like to do, look it up, and study it more, and take more pictures of what you like to do, and become confident by taking more photos of what you like to do.
Now, develop your own style from what you already love to do:
Now that you found that you are good at this one subject, what you will find is that you are taking pictures just like another photographer. This is the time to do some experimenting, and develop a style that is unique to you. What can you do different that the other photographer? Perhaps a different angle? Use some new filters? Think of something that will make your photography unique than all the other photographers taking pictures of the same thing you do.
I think of the person who took baby photos for a long time and then decided that they would put these newborn infants in a large Santa Sock. How unique is that, and then everybody wanted that photographer to take a picture of their new baby in the new Santa sock. And a new tradition and style was born. So, as you take pictures of your kids, think of something that is unique to you, the posing, the place you take of your kids, the way you take them. And then practice, practice, and practice. Take pictures several times a week, then increase it to daily if you can. Then you will not go anywhere without your camera. Then you will get into the habit of looking for opportunity.
The next big step: Action conquers fear !
This is a simple thing to think about: The more you do, the more you conquer your fear. I am friends through Facebook of a photographer who decided to set a goal to take a photo every day and post his daily photo in a “LIKE’ page he created himself. Now, could you post something every single day? The name of the “Like” page is: 366daysphoto. Here is the link to that page: https://www.facebook.com/phOtO2016Graphy/ (There is an extra day in 2016). Name is
He has added more photos to this page since his successful year of posting a photos to this page. But, what a great achievement. If you want to check it out, you should do so. Force yourself to do something crazy like that and then try to find something to take pictures of every day. You will get good, by just practicing, practicing, and praciting.
You must continue to learn from good photographers no matter how long you take photos:
I love my doctor. It amazes me the knowledge he has about medicine. The interesting thing is that he graduated from medical school over 25 years ago. How does he keep up to his trade? By continuing to study and learn from people in his field. And so should you. That is the one reason this blog exists. And that is why I continue to use articles from photographers other than myself. I let you know as I put forth these articles who the authors of these teaching articles are. I have several articles here myself, and I hope you all learn from these people. Read and study from these people and find out the details of how they took those photos. In order to get better, to gain the photography excellence you want, you must continue to learn from other photographers. I have on my Facebook friends list, a bunch of professional photographers, friends I have met and worked with before. And these are people who I can still learn from today. (Thanks everyone). So, when I go and take photos, I will remember what I have been taught by these people.
I am going to give you some suggestions of places to go to learn, whether in digital format (the internet) or paperback form so you can keep learning for yourself:
- digital photography school: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/9023181
- Nature Photographer magazine: https://www.facebook.com/Nature.Photographer.magazine/
- Pentax forums: https://www.facebook.com/pentaxforums/
- National Geographic: https://www.facebook.com/natgeo/
- Nikon USA: https://www.facebook.com/nikonusa/?fref=pb&hc_location=profile_browser
- Better Photography magazine: https://www.facebook.com/betterphotography/
- Popular photography magazine: https://www.facebook.com/popularphotography/
***** Let me mention that I have a book coming out soon, almost a complete compilation of some of the things I have written over the years on this blog. A complete book that will be available on the Amazon Kindle and on paperback. See that coming soon.
These are the sources I go to, to keep up with the latest in photography. I go to these sources to learn, and learn about composition techniques, and about what certain photographers are doing as well as the latest on new equipment as well.
Finally: Retake some of your old first photos:
Find some of your old photos, maybe see if you can make them look better. What would you do different? Is there anything wrong with what you did? How would you correct it? Could you get some tips from another photographer to help you? Or, by the time you get to this step, is it obvious now? That is what I am hoping for. So, take a look at some of your old photos and do them over and see how much you have improved. You will be amazed to see how that will boost your confidence. Remember that the destiny is all in your own hands, and in your own persistence. There is no reason why you can’t make a mark for yourself in the photographic world. Just DO IT!