Professional Photography Tips for Beginners


photography looking up

There is no silver bullet to making a professional picture.  It often takes years of practice; however, as a newer photographer you’ll find that there are some things that will dramatically improve your photography without much effort.

But after you apply the tips on this page and get to the point of being a competent photographer, you’ll find that your progress will be slower and you’ll have to work harder to make your photo just 1 or 2% better.

But here are the simplest things you can do to quickly see an improvement in your photos.

Capture Interesting Lighting

Photography Tips

Lighting is number one on this list for a reason.  It’s easily the most overlooked aspect of photography for beginning photographers, but professional photographers obsess about it.  Lighting is the most important thing to making a photo look professional.

Now what makes lighting look interesting?  First of all, it’s different from what we normally see.  Second, it highlights the subject and presents it in a good way.

There are many ways to make a portrait photo have more interesting lighting.  You could simply place the person in the shade in order to put even lighting on their face, or you could turn their back to the sun so that hard shadows don’t rake across the face.

No Aberrations

Photography Tips

An aberration in photography is something that is left in the picture that doesn’t belong in the picture.  It makes the photo feel cluttered with distractions that keep the viewer from enjoying the subject.

I most commonly see aberrations around the edges of the frame.  It can be easy for the photographer to pay close attention to the person they are photographing, and forget about a piece of trash in the background, an ugly telephone pole in the distance, etc.

Chose a Clear Subject By Zooming In Tight

If you’re having a difficult time getting a composition to make sense, the problem is most likely that you’ve chosen too many subjects at once.  Decide on what one subject will be the center of attention, and you’ll have a much more interesting picture.

It’s incredibly rare that I see a photo that is photographed TOO tight.  Zooming in on one part of the scene is almost always the right answer for new photographers.  It takes most of my students a year of learning photography before they finally dare to zoom in tight.  How long will it take you?

Digital Styling

Digital styling is applied in Photoshop and Lightroom and allows the photographer to creatively change the colors, contrast, and exposure.

While I personally am not much of a fan of the filters on Instagram, we have all seen a photo that looks much more trendy and creative when a filter is applied to it.

If you feel like you’re ready to learn this part of photography, I highly recommend getting Lightroom and taking my Lightroom 101 course to help you get started with the software.

If you just learning photo retouching basics, you can outsource you post processing to freelancer marketplaces like Fiverr that can perform any photo enhancement at a very attractive cost!

Interesting Subject

Capturing an interesting subject is usually the simplest part of photography.  Even non-photographers know that some things are more interesting in a photo than others.

My advice here is actually the opposite of what you may think I’m going to say.  It’s not that you should find something interesting to shoot (though you certainly should).

My advice is that you should be careful not to be TOO taken by the subject.  If you are too excited about the subject, it can be easy to forget about all the of the other things on this page.  Capture an interesting subject, but once you’ve found it, remove yourself a bit from the excitement, look at the shoot from a 30,000 foot view and pay attention to everything else you need to do.

Crisp Sharpness

There are so many factors that impact the sharpness of a photo that it can be difficult to know what is causing a reduction in sharpness in your photos.  But I have found after coaching thousands and thousands of photographers that the problem is usually that the photographer did not get the focus quite right.

When taking a picture of a person, it’s essential to put the focus point exactly on the eye of the person you are photographing.

These are some interesting tips to help you.

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