All professional photographers were amateurs at one point. Most photographers started out by picking up photography as a side hobby or possibly taking a photography course in college. Others simply just liked to take photos of friends and family when traveling and on vacation. This article discusses what is involved in the journey that an amateur photographer takes before becoming a professional.
The first step is to learn everything you can about photography. Depending on how you learn the best, this can be achieved through anything from reading books to going on photo walks with other photographer friends. If there is a local library near where you live, why not check out their collection? Photography books can provide in-depth information and specific suggestions regarding composition, color, lighting, contrast, focal length, bokeh, and other important elements of photography. Many books will also explain how to use the different modes or settings on your camera. SLR camera owners will especially find this useful in order to get a better grasp on what features their camera has. Especially with the pace of modern technology, you could say that one could never fully learn every little feature of their equipment. This means that no matter how long you have been taking photos, it is always beneficial to continue learning about your equipment.
Knowledge is only the first step in becoming a professional photographer. In order for that knowledge to mean something, you have to be able to actually apply that information when shooting. The best way to practice is by focusing on one aspect of photography at a time. For example, spend a few days or a week just working on your composition. Focus on surveying the scene and practice taking the same shot from different angles, analyzing how it affects the overall photo. You’ll find patterns and a style that works for you the more you practice. As you become comfortable with composition, move on to a new element of photography such as lighting. For lighting, a good way to start is by being more aware of what type of lighting is in a scene. Is the primary light source strong or soft? How many light sources are there? From there you will be better equipped to adjust the settings and set up the scene in a way that brings the best possible result.
At first, photography can seem daunting because of all of the different elements that one has to think about. As you learn and progress though, it becomes easier and easier. Some of the settings become muscle memory and many of the adjustments you need to make will be automatic. For example, for a basic portrait taken with a handheld camera you’ll remember to automatically: 1) set the mode dial to Av, 2) bring the camera level with the subject’s eyes, 3) look for an angle with a clean background and 4) check the shutter speed to make sure the speed is fast enough for hand-held photography. The key here is to get to the point where you can quickly make the adjustments without having to spend a lot of time thinking about it.
Photography is an art. As such, there is no limit to how much you can learn about it. After you have mastered the basics elements of photography, there is still more to learn. The style is an important part of photography, one that continually changes as you grow as a photography. The style is reflected in the composition, lighting, colors, lines, patterns, shapes, vantage point, and other aspects that make up a photo. Post-production style also makes a big difference in the end result of a photo. As you learn more editing techniques, your post-production style will change along with that. Look through a recent collection that you’ve edited and compare it with a collection years ago. It will be obvious how your editing style has changed in recent years. One of the best ways to find inspiration to change up your style is by looking at other photographers’ work. Find a photographer whose photos you really like and try to figure out why you like their photography. Then incorporate those aspects into your own shots.