• Owen Johnson

Tips, Tricks and Suggestions for New Photographers

Updated: Feb 17

Here we are! The quintessential photography article! However, mine is different because they are thoughts designed and distributed by myself. Here are a few things I recommend every budding digital photographer should consider.


Get one of these things. Seriously. An SD card case. Get one now, save a headache later.

Honestly, it's one of the best purchases I've made as a photographer next to my camera.

These cases provide several things. First, they provide protection and help keep them from getting lost at the bottom of your jeans pockets. SD cards are still just little bits of plastic with some metal pieces inside. While they're generally durable, they won't survive anything, and when you've got a million dollar shot on an SD card, you're going to want to have bought a fifteen dollar case. I think this one I have is even waterproof at certain depths. I mean honestly that silver card I have in there has been through the washing machine more than a couple of times and hasn't died, but I'm happy to have the extra protection.


Another great thing about these is that they can help you keep organized. It's not like you can put a list of whats on any given card actually on the card, so I know if I have a card on the right side that it should be saved, and the ones on the left can be formatted if need be. Anyways. Get one. Incredibly helpful. Be careful about keeping all your eggs in one basket though because if you have everything in one case and lose it, well, adios to your cards. And photos. And videos. And sanity.


Learn the Full Manual Setting On Your Camera as Soon as You Can

While it's tempting to keep it on one of the semi-auto settings like Tv or the like, even full auto, the manual setting on your camera is incredibly powerful, and learning to use it (and use it well) is not only a marketable skill, it can be tons of fun and allow you more creativity. If you're shooting with a DSLR, try learning to go full manual, including manual focus. This sets a divider between amateurs and seasoned photographers.



Shoot photos in RAW

If your camera supports shooting in RAW image files, turn it on. You'll want a relatively large SD card, but it's worth it. Without shooting in RAW, your image files can be between 1MB and about 7MB. When shooting in RAW your image file sizes can be between 10MB and upwards of even 50MB depending on your camera's sensor and what you're taking photos of. Why would you want each image to take up so much space?

When you're editing your photos afterward, you'll thank yourself dozens of times over. The amount of data saved in a RAW image file is so much higher than a JPEG that if you brighten a nearly black RAW image, you'll still find detail in there. It makes editing photos way more fun because you have so much more room, and it makes shooting photos easier. You don't need to worry as much about getting your light settings right on the first try, because you have so much more power in post-processing.



Practice Taking Photos of People

It can be immensely challenging to take photos of people, because it just feels weird. At least at first, it feels awkward, and they might feel awkward, and its all just a big messy situation you can avoid by just taking photos of flowers and lakes and trees.

However, if you practice, you quickly learn personal strategies for dealing with this. I'm certainly not an expert, but after going to the skatepark and taking photos of random strangers for a little while, I feel more comfortable and I consider myself a stronger photographer.

You can start practicing by taking photos of friends or family members, this way you can feel more comfortable and start the emotional process of learning what taking portraits feels like. Once you start to get the hang of posed portraits, try taking candid photos of those same friends and family. The goal here is to make them feel as comfortable as they can so that they look as natural in their environment as they can for your photo. This takes some work on the photographer's part but is well worth it.

Once you get the hang of it, head out there. Always be mindful of yourself and who is around you, and be safe. Always at least try to get permission from your subject, and take some great photos. I like to offer to email any good ones to my subject. This motivates them to work with you and makes them feel more comfortable.



Start Learning to Process your Images

I started learning what image processing was using the stock iPhone app. I would play around with brightness, contrast, saturation, the usual characters. That's fine and all, but when you have RAW images, you need more power. For those with a Mac, even the stock Mac Photos app has a RAW image processor and will allow you to make edits there. That's where I learned what the tools like curves and brilliance and scopes were.

If you really plan on going in on photography, try to get Adobe Lightroom or the Adobe Creative Suite. Lightroom is my go-to for editing all of my images. It has a ton of power, has a comfy interface, good organizational tools, and even a way to make edits in photoshop which are automatically incorporated back into Lightroom when you're done. Editing your photos can elevate them from cool images into true works of art. Make your instagram pop.



Stick With It.

Maybe you're feeling overwhelmed right now, new camera in hand, so many things to learn, so many more to screw up, and all for what, pictures?

Please believe me when I say that it is all worth it. Finally snapping a photo that you really really love, thats a feeling all of its own. Stick with it and jump in. The important part is that you get to express yourself and show everyone what the world looks like through your eyes. Also get that SD case.

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