Photography is one of those things you can and can’t learn on your own. Getting a camera and just clicking away won’t make you a better photographer. Going to an expensive school and having the best teachers won’t make you a better photographer.
So what can you do to become a (better) photographer?
So let’s get started with summing up your options. After that, you can pick and choose which options you like the best. Just make sure to go through the entire list before starting your adventure.
It’s a bit of a create-your-own-adventure kind of thing. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. Personally, I learned more because of YouTube and Blogs than my photography teachers in school.
- Decide why you want to learn photography
- Decide when you will learn photography
- Steps to learn more about photography
- Places to learn photography
Decide why you want to learn photography
There is a lot you can do with the power of photography. So it might be interesting to decide why you want to learn the art form.
Is it because you want to relax and focus your mind on something. Or maybe you like to make beautiful shots of the memories you create with friends and family. It could also be that you want to make better Instagrams.
Whatever your goal is, make sure you know it. Maybe it’s good even to write down “I want to start learning photography because…”
You want to go professional and improve on your already existing skills, which is already a very nice goal to strive for.
Set up a goal what aspect to learn of photography
The first step is to set a goal. What do you want to achieve? A niche? A specific technique? Maybe just the wedding of a niece? Whatever it is, make a clear goal and break it up into things you might need to know.
For example, the wedding of a niece. It might be interesting to know a bit more about composition, taking photos in different lighting situations, and how to create a specific mood in your photos.
Decide when you will learn photography
If you are a full-time photographer, like me, you can put aside some more time to learn things about photography than if you are a hobbyist who does it on the side. However, no matter what situation you have, you can always set up a time for you to go deeper into photography.
If you have a day job, it might be nice to block some time for yourself on the weekends. Or an evening during the week that fits your calendar nicely.
Make a budget for your photography learning
Think about how much money you want to spend. Is it nothing? Maybe stick to reading blogs and watching YouTube. Is it a little bit? Buy some good books. Maybe follow a cheap class. Is it a lot? You can attend workshops and follow a course.
Get the gear you need, not the gear you want
We all would love to shoot with the newest and best DSLR. However, it’s not necessary at all. Instead, look at the kind of camera you need to learn the photography topic you want to learn about.
Is it the composition? Maybe a smartphone is already plenty. Are you all about wildlife photography? A decent camera and telephoto lens might come in handy there.
Steps to learn more about photography
Another important factor in getting into photography is doing it step by step. There are a lot of aspects to learn about photography. So doing it all at once is probably not the best idea. Instead, try to go about each factor one at a time.
I recommend the following order to learn about photography. But, of course, it’s all dependant on what you want to learn and how fast and in-depth.
Step 1: Get to know your camera
One of the most important steps. Know your camera. Go out and take photos with it—no matter what camera you have, even if it’s your smartphone. Get used to it and notice how it reacts with different types of lighting.
Step 2: Is get into learning
If you are more of an online person, there are plenty of websites to learn more about photography at your own pace. I can recommend watching YouTube a lot.
There are many books written about photography if you don’t like sitting behind a screen and learning. Or get a subscription to your local library. You are destined to find a huge amount of books there.
I think the best way to learn something is by having a trajectory lined out for you. Because you can go in all directions, but it’s kind of like Star Wars. In which order do you watch them all? Right?
So for that reason, I made a list of the order I suggest you learn photography in.
- How to find good subjects to photograph
- The exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO)
- You camera settings
- White balance and how to use it creatively
- The different focusing and light metering options
- Post-production with Lightroom, Snapseed, VSCO, or other applications
- Try different niches: macro, street, portrait, landscape, …
- Use extra equipment like flashlights, tripods, …
It is possible you have to learn less than these options. Or it could be even more. The important factor here is to take it step by step. Please don’t rush into it and try to do multiple at once.
Step 3: Go out and meet people
Going to photography events or maybe connect via Instagram and ask people if you could join them on a photography walk one day. Meeting people is great to learn more about photography.
You can exchange tips and see them actually make the photos. If you are ever in Belgium, hit me up for a trip together. 😉
Step 4: Share your work and ask for feedback
Probably the most daunting part of all: asking for the opinion of others. Don’t go and ask your family, as they might not know about photography and don’t want to hurt your feelings.
Go and ask other photographers. On meetings, maybe Instagram, or you can find them in a lot of Facebook groups.
Places to learn photography
There are a lot of places you can go to to learn more about photography. On the internet alone, you can access lots of learning materials by just going to the right place.
The offline places to learn photography
Let’s start with offline places first. Things you can do to learn and improve photography without even touching a computer. Ideal for everyone.
The most expensive one, and only for those who really want to go into photography. You can do this in many different shapes and forms. You can go to an actual school as I did back in high school.
Maybe it’s a good idea to go to evening classes for adults if that fits your schedule better. There are plenty of organizations and schools providing those classes. It can help you if you need discipline and regular study moments.
Going to a school has a couple of advantages. First, you get to focus on the subject without interruption, making it easier to understand those more boring but essential aspects of it.
You also get to meet other people interested in photography. Learning from each other might even be the best way to evolve even further.
Play around and practice
This one is basically ‘just do it.’ Take a camera with you and photograph anything and everything you see and encounter. This way, you get to know your gear, your eye, and you can train your reflexes, sights, and vision.
Read books about photography
You can vary between the informative books explaining to you certain principles and how to make a composition. You can also buy books from famous photographers and look at how they compose certain scenes. Learn photography from the pros.
Network and do shoots together
Finding other photographers via various channels, becoming friends, and doing shoots together is very educational. You can see how others photograph a certain object while you are there too. You can compare what they are doing to your instincts. I think this is the most social and fun way to learn photography.
Participate in photography workshops
It’s not only a place to network with other photographers, but it also helps you focus on different aspects of photography. It’s not just a teacher telling you how it should be done; it’s a real photographer telling you how he/she does it and why they do it this way.
The online places to learn photography
We all have lazy days where we don’t want to get out of bed, the couch, or your study. That’s okay because you can also learn more about photography from the comfort of your own house. Just take your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and get started.
There are a lot of websites where you can buy and download courses. Udemy is one of the more popular ones. You also have Skillshare and linda.com. All websites help you get better at the skill of your choice. Just go to the photography section, find a course that fits your goals and get to learning!
Subscribe on YouTube channels
There are so many YouTube channels these days! This also means there are plenty of them discussing photography in all its forms.
Another medium that’s popular online these days is podcasts. In short episodes, like YouTube videos, you get the gist of a certain facet of photography. It’s nice to walk around the house with your earbuds in, listening to an expert tell you all about photography.
Get active on forums and Facebook groups
I’m in a ton of photography-related Facebook groups. The idea of these groups and fora is to help each other with feedback. Upload your photos and get the opinion of others. And the other way around. Tell your opinion to others too. It might be a bit painful sometimes, but it’s the best learning school.
Follow photographers on social media
Watch their Twitter, Instagram, Facebook page, Pinterest, …. Could you take a look at their work? Usually, you get a good view behind the scenes, which is even more helpful than the result. It’s also possible to ask them questions this way, so make sure to use that opportunity!
What’s your favorite way to learn more about photography? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: There is none, I just really wanted to write this piece of content for you. <3