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Photography for beginners


An example of a perfect photo op. Teri Bailey

Getting started in the photography field can be hard work, but it is definitely worth it. You have to be willing to learn new things, practice until your hands cramp, and always carry your camera with you. Here are some tips for getting started.
The most important step is to have a camera that works for you and a working knowledge of how to use every function and feature. The best way is to go to a store and try out cameras until you find a few to compare online or ask others about. Once you’ve read all the specs, you’ll then need to decide which camera will fit your needs best. Things to ask yourself when making the decision:

  • What will the primary purpose of the camera be?
  • Will this be used in the same place or will you travel with it?
  • How much camera can I afford?
  • What accessories will I need to get started?

Once you have your equipment, practice, practice, PRACTICE! There is no such thing as too many pictures. Always carry a camera with you. If you feel inclined, you could take up a 365 project, where the aim is to take a different picture every day. If you’re not able to keep up with a picture a day, you could also do one picture a week. The goal of these projects is to help develop your skills. Enlist family members to practice on. Not only will they most likely volunteer, but they will be excited to see your finished product. Taking classes at your local community college can be helpful as well.

Maintaining your equipment is a very important priority. There are many times a perfect photo opportunity arises only to find that the battery is dead. The best way to avoid this is by having two batteries, one in the camera, and a fully charged spare. Make sure to swap them out so they get used and charged regularly. Dirty lenses are a photographer’s worst enemy. Since they are one of the most delicate parts of a camera, you need to invest in a great lens cleaning kit to ensure your lenses are clean. Filters that attach to your lens are excellent for preventing lens scratches. It’s always better to scratch up a $25 filter than a $1000 plus lens.

Getting your work out there is the other half of the process. Join an online forum for photo critiquing so you can get feedback on your skills. Another idea is to join a local camera club. The Des Moines Camera Club has been around since 1943, and is an excellent way to meet other photography enthusiasts. They also hold a monthly in-house print competition. Competitions are a great learning tool, and sites like offer speed challenges.

Once you have your skills developed, getting your name out in the game should be your next step. There are many ways to do this. Social networking sites like and are great places to post your work and find people who are interested in your photography. There are also places like that can help you meet other photographers and businesses. You can find yourself quite a following using these sites. Another way of getting the word out include word of mouth because friends and family often make the best references.
Last but not least, have faith in yourself and your abilities!


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