Beginner Photographer

Taking better photos: 7 Essential tips for the beginner photographer

Taking great photos is no longer just for the professional. With smartphones and social media all the rage the pressure is on to capture and share those great moments every day. Facebook gets 350 million photo uploads each day!

So whether your aim is to capture that holiday memory, special occasion or you fancy yourself as a budding beginner photographer, here’s are some expert tips for choosing the right camera and using the right techniques to capture that great picture.

Choose the right camera

With 85 different manufacturers of camera equipment and a ton of tech specs on each decide what type of photographer you’re going to be.

Simple point and shoot - if it’s easy and cost effective you’re after go with a Nikon or Canon body and digital over film.  DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) cameras with crop-sensor – more forgiving and ensures most of the photo is in sharp focus are a safe bet – and have the familiar feel of the point and shoot cameras you’ll be used to.

Arty Experimentation - if you fancy a bit of creativity try out the Lomography analogue cameras that are aimed for the spontanious photographer, their motto being ‘don’t think, just shoot’.

action photography for beginners

Action and Adventure - if you want to document those adrenaline filled moments in your life whether it’s a backpacking moment, racing down a ski slope or bungee jumping then the GoPro is the top action camera in the market especially for videography too.

Cool  factor - if you’re going for the cool factor then try the latest in authentic looking digital cameras like the Retro range.


Getting the best photographs

Now on to the top rules to achieve that fantastic photograph from Photography experts.

  1. Place your subject off centre

Mentally divide the camera screen into 9 squares and then place the object you want to photograph in one intersection point (called strong points). This rule can be applied to horizontal or vertical landscape images and is an excellent starting point for any composition.

rule of thirds in photography
Image by Dennis Jarvis

“The idea is that an off-centre composition is more pleasing to the eye and looks more natural than one where the subject is placed right in the middle of the frame. It also encourages you to make creative use of negative space, the empty areas around your subject” according to Photography expert and tutor Photography Mad that have a more detailed explanation of the Rule of Thirds. Another valuable tip they share is “try to include another interesting object, such as the tree in the photo above, and position it according to the rule of thirds. This provides an “anchor”, a natural focal point for the scene”.


  1. Move your subject into the light

Always be aware of light and play with it if possible. The basic premise is the sun behind your subject will create a darkened or blacked out image. It’s also worth using the flash for daylight portrait shots but try to catch natural light when it comes to landscape shots.

Brighton based Street Photographer, Heather Buckley@buckleyheather, uses flash all the time. “Usually it will be a Canon EOS 5D with a Speedlite flash on top. For every event I do, I’ll use flash, but that excludes when I’m working indoors where I’ll only use available light”. Read more 

Lighting when taking photos
Image by ShootFactory

Founder of UK Landscape Photographer of the Year and USA Landscape Photographer of the Year, Charlie Waite (@Charlie_Waite1) says, ‘The powerful contrasts between light and shade are important parts of a photo. Setting up bespoke lighting might be out of reach of most but there are ways to manipulate it.

Try and move your subject into the light to highlight them against the shade. For some great tips on how to do this check out his blog, especially his lowdown on taking stunning pictures in winter.

  1. Get a ground up new perspective

Get a whole new perspective to your photo by shooting an image when you’re low to the ground, otherwise known as the worm’s eye view (shooting from the ground upwards).

Darlene Hildebrandt @dpmentor, Managing Editor of the Digital Photography School (which teaches amateurs and hobbyists through online classes and tours) recommends “get down on your hands and knees, don’t be afraid to get dirty, and get as low to the ground as you can (and still be able to get up again). You might find things down there you haven’t noticed before, perhaps even in your own home or back yard“.

Worm's eye photography
Image by Kenny Sarmy

Love photographer Kenny Sarmy’s photo of the swans at Slimbridge taken with his Canon EOS 40D.

Wildlife Photographer of the year, Jamie Hall @jamiehallphoto spent over two months observing an owl hunting in a patch of overgrown grass and used his Canon 1DX to freeze the scene in the most spectacular series of photos. For more inspiration check his these out here


  1. Play with Height and Realism

When taking a picture of a small subject it will look more realistic if you shoot from the same height but you can also try the opposite to create different effects.

Catriona – Misty Road
Image by Catriona


Oliver Atwell @Oliver_Atwell, Senior Features writer at Amateur Photographer Magazine, picked this image as a favourite, considering “Is our subject a child or is the perspective an illusion? I’m not sure. If it’s a child we see then shooting from a low angle has given us a glimpse of the world from a child’s perspective”.

5. Use Macro to capture the detail

To capture tiny details try out the Macro option and remember, the closer the better. You can get some incredible results like the image below. Photographer David Chambon has been working on a phenomenal series of photos featuring insects covered in morning dew including this one.

Macro photos by David Chambon
Image by David Chambon

Check out different macro lens here


  1. Get your subject to focus on something unseen

The best recommendation for portrait shots is to avoid having a background as it can be distracting. Instead, try to emphasise something in the main subject or try a different composition. Darren Rowse @problogger recommends playing with eye contact “(let) your subject focus their attention on something unseen and outside the field of view of your camera”

Portait images for beginner photography
Image by Gianmaria Zanotti
  1. Practise makes perfect

One of the best pieces of advice for a beginner photographer is from Photographer Nick Turpin @NickTurpin who says “the number one rule is to carry your camera at all times”. 

So get your camera and get snapping! Check here for good sturdy camera bags and camera protection. If you need a beginners guide the Quick and Easy Everyday Photography guide is a great place to get started.

For more expert guidance check out the Top Tips from Top Travel Photographers: A Quick-and-Easy Everyday Photography Guide here

Happy Snapping!

Have you got any tips to share with beginners? Share them in the comment below.

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