The Most Important Tip For Beginners

“Stop procrastinating, and take some photographs. Right now!” – That’s it… That’s the tip.

You’re probably a photography enthusiast who’s trying to learn more about various photography techniques or styles. One way is to research the technique, look at a median of samples; so much so, that you could get lost in the process of learning.

However, consider how long ago was the last time that you actually took a good photograph that you liked, and were proud of… If it’s been a while, then you need to put this article down immediately. Pick up your camera instead, and practice your craft.

However, I’ll cut you some slack if you happen to be reading this late at night, you’re tired, and don’t mind a bit of light-hearted reading, then do read on…

1. When You Have to Shoot … Shoot! Don’t Talk

As the iconic character Tuco from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ says:

When you have to shoot, shoot! Don’t talk.

Tuco – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Here at Beyond Photo Tips, we prefer a different kind of shooting… We shoot photographs. Too many people talk about taking a particular type of photograph, and never get around to doing it. I myself have been known to do this, and that’s why it’s on top of my list of important tips for photographers who are just starting out on their journey.

Just get started: the photographs may be average, or even bad in the beginning. That’s ok. In fact, it’s normal to take bad photographs for a long time. With each photograph, look at it honestly; critique your work without holding back… The next time, you’ll be able to analyse how to do better based on your critique. A mentor could also give you honest feedback.

2. Overcoming Analysis-Paralysis

It’s easy to get caught up in the theory-crafting surrounding photography, obsessing over equipment, and researching the techniques behind the photographs that have stood the test of time.

All too often, we do that… we look at beautiful photographs, we read about the photographers that took the photos, and the amazing equipment that they used. Then we sit back; paralyzed into inaction by the huge gap in skill between the amazing photographs before us, and our own inadequacy.

Instead, just go out and take photos… They most likely won’t be as good, but each photograph, with the right critique is a stepping-stone to greatness. When you have the need for a gazillion pixel camera, you’ll know… and your clients will be willing pay you to buy it…

Till then, pick up any camera – your trusty film SLR, or the brand new mirrorless camera that’s been sitting on the shelf, or even just your smartphone. Go, take it out, turn it on and take photographs…

3. Embrace the Imperfect

Beginners worry that their cameras will get dirty, dusty, and moldy. They worry that their photographs may not be ‘good enough’.

But remember that even a master like Ansel Adams started out with photographs that were less than perfect. All the masters did.

They all practised. They took hundreds and thousands of mediocre photographs, they then figured out what they were doing wrong, corrected the mistakes and moved on… Photography is a journey of discovery, and bad photographs are stepping stones – finding out what does not work, and by process of eliminating, finding out what does work.

You can’t avoid making mistakes. Embrace your imperfect photographs as part of the process.

4. Create Time to Practice Your Craft

Good photography is about how you see the world around you. If you feel like you don’t have enough time to set aside to explore the world around you with a camera, you have two options

  1. You’ve got to set aside time in your calendar to practice your photography skills, or
  2. You can get a small camera that you can carry around with you. One that you can put in your pocket… Wait a minute, you already have one! Your smartphone! Use it to practice composition.

If aren’t finding inspiration around you, then perhaps it’s time to explore new places… When you do, take that camera along with you, or pull out your smartphone, and use it.

5. Overcoming Laziness

If you’re reading this instead of taking photos, perhaps it’s time to shake off the laziness. Perhaps learning a new technique, or getting better acquainted with your gear, will be the key to finding your passiong for photography! Take a tiny step, and I’m sure it will inspire you to take more steps towards creating inspiring photographs.

As a step towards helping you overcome these obstacles, we have created a number of Photography Projects, that will help to inspire and guide you to see differently, to expore new subjects, and new techniques. Check out our Photo Projects home page.

If you have other reasons for why you’re not taking photos, or if you’ve found ways to overcome these obstacles, feel free to leave a comment. Remember, the best way to improve your photography is by taking photos, not just reading about them.

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Susheel Chandradhas
Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas is a Product Photographer and Filmmaker based in India. He has been taking photographs (almost) all his life. He has a diploma and a bachelors degree in Visual Communication, where his classmates all believed that he would write a book on photography... Instead, he writes on this website (because - isn't a community more fun?).

His passions include photography, parkour, wide-angle lenses, blue skies, fire extinguishers, and fast computers.

In addition to writing for Beyond Photo Tips, Susheel is a staff writer for Fstoppers.com, and owns and runs ColoursAlive, a photography, and video production studio.

You can connect with Susheel on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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10 Comments

  1. Touche!
    I used to teach computer classes to get through college. I had a student one time who seemed to know everything there was to know (I was teaching HTML). He certainly knew all the terminology and even some of the application. But in practice…he was clueless. Reading whatever material is going to help you eventually…but you really gotta DO more often than read.

  2. Gunjan. Yes, I guess it’s in the beginning that people get lost in the theory… Later on, they get lost in the beauty of taking pictures.

    Travis. I know exactly what you mean. I deal with similar issues daily.

  3. Hah, nice. You’re completely right. Like someone above said, thats the most important thing to remember for people.

    And yes, I prefer to use a camera..I don’t get in trouble when the cops see me.

    Now if the weather was only better over here….:)

  4. I find that I go through phases when I can’t get enough of photography and then other times where I’m loath to pick my camera up. Its those times that I need a kick, but usually once I get started I enjoy it and don’t want to stop.

  5. Totally agree. I do a fair amount of writing as well. My mom taught me at a young age to just write. It doesn’t even matter what comes out. Something is better than nothing. You can make sense of it later. I think the same can apply to shooting sometimes. Just go shoot. Learn along the way. Figure it out as you go. Thanks for the post.

  6. Wow.. you are just talking about me at least at 2. 4. 5.
    The most difficult to me is to make time to think well about what I’m doing, find mistakes, learn from them…

    • Eraldo, I’ve found that your mind needs to be at rest to learn well. As with everything, try to focus on the task at hand, and you’ll do it much better. All the best with your learning…

  7. I can so relate to point 2. I seem to use reading about photography as tool to procrastinate. Maybe cuz I’ve got too high standards for myself, so I’m scared to start shooting? Thanks for the insight, Susheel!

    Btw, which of these problems did you struggle with the most when you were starting out?

    • You’ve definitely set high standards… With digital, you can delete and try again. So try again, but don’t get discouraged if you can’t yet get the image that you picture in your mind. Photography skills are cumulative, as with any learning, and you will eventually get there. Patience will be rewarded.

      I struggle with all these points. I struggle the most with the last point… Laziness.

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