Everyone can start learning to take pictures! Yes, read correctly – photography is not witchcraft. You only have to bring three things: patience, time to practice and a lot of desire to explore this new world. We have put together a step-by-step guide to learning to take pictures for beginners. On the camera, ready, go!
Photographing is a super exciting hobby.
Do you want to finally learn to take pictures properly?
Then you’ve come to the right place. In our 22-step guide to better photos, we’ve packed our personal experiences that we’ve had on our own journey.
More than 10 years ago, we were at the very beginning and taught ourselves photography.
So we know exactly what matters and can give you our best tips to get to your destination quickly: finally take great photos.
Learning to take pictures: how it works is guaranteed
We start right away with our 22 steps, but a few short words at the beginning still have to be.
Our very personal way
Our “photography career” was a classic case. At some point we bought a SLR camera and then snapped it wildly, of course in automatic mode.
At some point we wanted more and started to deal more with our cameras. We have read books about photography, we have watched videos, we have even attended a course at the adult education centre.
None of this has really taken us any further. We tried our hard to teach ourselves and it took many years to really say: now we can take good pictures.
We want to help you to make it much faster. We know what matters and what information photography beginners really need and which do not.
In this article, we have summarized all our knowledge of the fastest way to take pictures in a step-by-step plan for the first time, and now we don’t want to put you on the torture anymore. Let’s go!
The 22 steps on the way from photography beginner to professional
To give you a first overview, we show you here all the steps of our manual in quick flow.
If you are not at the very beginning and you already have one or the other behind you, you can take a look at the following ones and also skip a few steps.
Basically, however, we thought something in the order. It makes perfect sense, therefore, to proceed exactly according to this plan.
Learning to take pictures: Our 22-step plan:
- Think about what your goals are
- Buy a good entry-level camera
- Get a nice bag
- Take a first look at the manual
- Get help learning to take pictures
- Forget the automatic mode
- Discover your camera
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Buy a tripod
- Learn to use the light for your photos
- Deal with the image design
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Buy a second lens
- Look at your photos and optimize them
- Imagine a Photography Challenge
- Edit your pictures
- Practice, practice, practice!
- Discover photography with filters
- Try new things from
- Find your photographic style
- Practice, practice, practice
- Be proud and happy
Before you start: You need this at the beginning
This part contains everything you should do before you take your first photos.
1 Think about what your goals are
Before you buy your first camera and any accessories, you should consider what you want to photograph and to what extent.
Do you just want to take pictures as a hobby and just bring beautiful photos of your travels? Or maybe you even plan to make photography your profession?
Set yourself very specific goals and write down directly by when you want to achieve this goal.
Over time, think about concrete milestones and write them down. These can also be very simple things, like “I want to go out five times this month” or “I want to photograph the sunset next weekend.”
We have learned that it helps immensely to write down these goals. This creates a certain degree of commitment and ensures that you really move forward.
2 get a good beginner’s camera
If you’re at the very beginning, you shouldn’t spend thousands of euros on your first camera.
In fact, we often see that photography beginners are the first to buy a sinfully expensive piece of equipment and then wonder that the photos aren’t going to be so great anyway.
We therefore recommend you to start with a not so expensive model, because with it you can definitely take really good photos.
Luckily, there is a very good selection of entry-level cameras for every budget.
You get a cheap entry-level camera for as little as 250 euros, but we recommend taking a little more money. For 500 to 600 Euros you get really good entry-level cameras, on which you will have fun for longer.
When you buy your first camera, you’ll find that the choice is huge. There are SLR cameras, mirrorless system cameras, bridge cameras, compact cameras. Puh, who should keep track of this?
We, of course! We have written a detailed article about entry-level cameras for you, in which we explain to you all the advantages and disadvantages of the systems and also recommend concrete models: Camera Purchase Advice: Which camera suits you?
If you don’t feel like reading the full article, we’ll give you a brief summary here. We recommend a SLR camera or a mirrorless system camera to get started.
With these cameras, you can change the lens. This allows you to upgrade your camera with better lenses in the future.
The best SLR cameras for beginners
|Price incl||lens weight||folding display||Buy|
|Canon EOS2000D||approx. 350 Euro||475 g||no||Amazon|
|Nikon D3500||approx. 450 Euro||415 g||no||Amazon|
|Canon EOS250D||approx. 550 Euro||450 g||yes||Amazon|
|Nikon D5600||approx. 600 Euro||465 g||yes||Amazon|
SLR cameras have been the nonplusultra for many years and are still a good choice.
However, they also have disadvantages, such as weight and size. If you prefer to travel with slightly lighter equipment, we recommend you to use a mirrorless system camera.
Read also our purchase advice for SLR cameras for beginners
The best mirrorless system cameras for beginners
|Price incl||lens weight||folding display||Buy|
|Sony Alpha 6000||600 Euro||285 g||no||Amazon|
|Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III||approx. 600 Euro||410 g||yes||Amazon|
|Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GX80||approx. 500 Euro||426 g||yes||Amazon|
System camera Sony Alpha 6000
Mirrorless system cameras are smaller and lighter than SLR cameras and often offer very good image quality. Many professional photographers now take pictures with system cameras and we are also part of it!
However, the battery does not last as long for system cameras and they are usually slightly more expensive than SLR cameras, even the lenses often cost a little more.
3 Get a nice camera bag
An important accessory for your camera is a sturdy camera bag.
You don’t think about it right away, but at the latest when you want to start with your camera for the first time, you’ll find that a bag is indispensable.
We have tried many camera bags over the years and have been enthusiastic users of hellolulu’s photo bags for years. Not only are they very practical, they also look really good and this is relatively rare with camera bags.
The following camera bags can be recommended for photography beginners with small equipment. They are all water-repellent, compact and perfect for everyday use:
Photo bag hellolulu NorrisHellolulu Norris: For system cameras: Waterproof, robust and stylish. A system camera and accessories such as batteries and charger or small personal items, such as a purse, fit into the pocket.
Photo bag hellolulu Morley
Hellolulu Morley: For SLR reflex or large system cameras: Waterproof shoulder bag for SLR or large system cameras, including interchangeable lens and accessories.
Photo backpack Sorrell by hellolulu
Hellolulu Sorrell: Do you prefer a photo backpack rather than a shoulder bag? There is of course something about hellolulu. The backpack looks really chic and if you take out the insert for the camera, you can even use it as a normal backpack.
4 Take a look at your camera’s manual
So, you’ve now bought your camera and maybe even a pretty photo bag right next. Congratulations! You’ve already taken the first steps towards great photos.
When you unpack your new camera, the first thing you should do is take a look at the manual and not carelessly set it aside.
It not only contains boring edge about security precautions and how to charge the battery, but also some helpful information about the basics of photography and some tips on how to optimally set up your camera model.
Even if the manual may not always explain everything really well, you should always have it at your fingertips. If you are looking for a specific setting, you can always look up where you find it on your camera.
5 Get support in learning to take pictures
You can teach yourself how to take pictures yourself, no question. We have taught ourselves a lot of things and therefore know how exhausting and time-consuming this is.
That’s why we have compiled all our photography knowledge in our online photo course. In this way, we have created a course that we longed for at the time when learning to take pictures.
In our course several thousand participants have already learned the basics of photography and we are thrilled every time we receive great feedback from our participants and can admire the photos taken.
Learning to take pictures
Now it’s time to get started. In this section, we’ll give you practical tips for learning to take pictures.
Read Also : 10 tips for photography beginners
6 Forget the automatic mode
After unpacking your new camera, you’ve probably tried it out directly and taken your first pictures in automatic mode.
This is also completely ok for the start. But if you want to learn to photograph properly, you won’t get on with the automatic mode.
We always like to compare this: The automatic mode is good for snapping. But if you want to take pictures, you have to get out of the automatic. Because photographing is like snapping, just more crass.
If you really want to learn how to take pictures, you have to make manual settings on your camera, and if you really want to be creative, there’s no way around it either.
You can’t take pictures in automatic mode with motifs such as passing cars with motion blur or images with a blurred background. The camera then adjusts all values in such a way that everything is well exposed and sharp, but only that.
Even with everyday motifs such as sunsets or even a family celebration in a poorly lit room, you will reach your limits with the automatic mode.
So, get out of the automatic mode, because then the fun of photography really starts.
7 Discover your camera
Now, when you’re no longer shooting in automatic mode, you’ll have to take care of the settings on your camera. At the latest here, learning to take pictures really begins.
Many newcomers have great respect for the technology. At first, it looks like a book with seven seals. It’s not as complicated as it might seem at first.
Ultimately, there are three important terms you should know and understand: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO.
There are other settings that play a role, of course, but for the beginning, it’s enough if you understand these three.
The shutter speed determines how long light falls on your camera’s sensor. The longer the shutter speed, the more light falls on the camera. In low light conditions, you have to take pictures with longer shutter speeds.
With the aperture you can control how much light falls on the sensor. The further the aperture is open, the more light falls. You can also use the aperture to influence whether the background of your subjects should be sharp or blurred.
The ISO, in turn, determines how sensitive the sensor is to light. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the sensor is. This means that with a higher ISO you can take brighter photos in low light conditions.
That may all sound a bit abstract now. This is no wonder, because in 2-3 sentences these settings simply cannot be explained.
8 practicing, practicing, practicing
Patience and practice are the be-all and end-all when learning to take pictures.
Try to get your camera in your hand as often as possible at the beginning. Imagine one function at a time and try out as much as you can. Only through regular exercise will you take better photos and the more you take pictures, the easier the settings will be to you.
It doesn’t have to be a big effort either: In your apartment or in the garden you will also find many exciting motifs to practice.
Our tips for photography beginners
So slowly you have the basic knowledge to take pictures on it. Now you can dedicate yourself to the details.
9 buy a tripod
Sooner or later you will find that you need a tripod. If you want to take pictures in the dark.B, you definitely need a tripod, otherwise your photos will become blurred.
When buying a tripod, you are spoilt for choice: from just 10 euros, you get a shaky tripod made of plastic. You can also spend several hundred euros on a tripod.
We recommend the following tripods from different price ranges:
Rollei Traveler No. 1 Carbon: Our travel tripod. It is handy, very light and can carry cameras weighing up to 8 kg. We don’t want to miss it on our travels anymore!
Manfrotto MKCOMPACTACN-BK: Lightweight and affordable entry-level tripod for small and light cameras weighing up to 1.5 kg. Due to its low weight, it is good for traveling and hiking.
K&F Concept tripod with central column system: Due to the 90° central column system, this tripod is not only suitable for landscape photography but also very well for macro photography and close-to-ground photos.
Rollei Rock Solid Gamma II: Super stable tripod for advanced photographers that has a stable stand even in wind and weather.
10 Learn to use the light for your photos
How you adjust the aperture, ISO and shutter speed depends on one thing above all: the lighting conditions.
With too much and too little light, it becomes harder to create a decent image. The capabilities of your camera and lens also play a role. If you know how light affects your photos, you can counteract them.
You can adjust your camera’s settings to the lighting conditions, or you can deliberately plan your photo tours when the lighting conditions are optimal.
You can take particularly beautiful photos .B to the so-called Blue Hour and the Golden Hour, which are around the sunrise or sunset.
So if you’re knowledgeable of the technical basics of photography, it’s time to take a closer look at the topic of light and try out which settings work best in which light conditions.
11 Deal with the image design
But technology is far from everything. The understanding of technology is necessary. But you don’t automatically take beautiful photos just because you know how aperture, shutter speed and ISO work.
This is only the first step. The second and at least as important step is the image design.
A technically flawless photo can still look boring. So be sure to deal with the different stylistic means of image design as soon as you have the technique on it.
Symmetry, certain color compositions, the third rule, or the framing of your subject are just a few of the many possibilities of image design. Perspectives and the conscious use of lines are also great means of image design.
In our photo course, the image design is therefore the second very extensive part besides the technology. There you will find a lot of inspiration and learn to train your photographic eye.
12 practicing, practicing, practicing
We can’t say it often enough: practicing is the key to learning to take pictures!
Take your camera as often as you can, click through the menu, turn on the mode dial and take a lot of photos.
Try out the different stylistic means of image design and improve your photographic view.
13 Buy a second lens
If you just bought your first camera, you probably bought a standard zoom lens or it was directly in the kit.
These are practical all-rounder lenses for the beginning, with which you can more or less photograph everything.
However, such lenses also have their limits.
For example, they are never particularly bright, so you can’t take such good photos in poorer light conditions. The image quality also decreases quickly with zoom lenses when zooming in.
Once you’ve fully utilized the capabilities of your zoom lens, it’s time to look for a more specialized lens.
Depending on what you like to photograph, you can choose between telephoto lenses, wide-angle lenses, portrait lenses or macro lenses.
Which lens is the right choice for you, we have written down in our detailed lens consultation:
To our lens purchase advice
Our tip: We recommend buying a fixed focal length as a second lens. Fixed focal lengths are ideal for learning to take pictures, they are extremely bright and you can often conjure up particularly blurred backgrounds with them. Of course, we have also written an article about this:
14 look at your photos and learn
A tip that we give to photography beginners over and over again: Look at your photos and learn from them!
It’s incredibly helpful if you take a look at your already taken photos again and again. This allows you to understand what you’ve done well, what you’d do better by now, or why the photo hasn’t become what it should be.
In this way, you often recognize vulnerabilities in your photos, which are common, and can thus make them better in the future.
Alternatively, you can take photos of famous photographers and analyze them. How are the image elements distributed, what makes the photo so special?
All of this helps you train your photographic eye and pay more attention to certain image details when taking pictures.
15 Take on a Photography Challenge
When you’re at the beginning of taking pictures, you have to practice a lot. And so that it doesn’t get boring, because at some point you don’t know what to photograph, you can start a photography challenge.
It works like this: For a fixed period of time, for example a week or a month, you take pictures every day on a different topic.
You can choose themes such as family, water, fashion or even certain colours. There are no limits to your creativity.
Just make a weekly plan to photograph a new theme every day.
This keeps you in practice, is exciting and you can find out which photography theme inspires you most.
By the way: In our photo course there is an area with 22 photo projects, which are divided into three difficulty levels. You can try out topics such as silhouettes, sunsets or animal photography.
16 Edit your pictures
We are often asked: Do you have to edit your photos? Yes and no!
Basically, you don’t have to edit your photos, because even without photo editing, very useful photos usually come from the camera.
But there are simply certain things that you can only do afterwards on the computer: correct small mistakes, amplify contrasts or adjust the exposure afterwards and thus correct overexposed or underexposed areas.
You don’t have to do these things, but ultimately they take your photos to a whole new level.
Nowadays, almost every photographer works with an image editing program.
Not only can you iron out small mistakes, but also make your photo a bit more contrasting and spectacular.
The absolute favourites are the Adobe products Lightroom and Photoshop. Lightroom in particular is ideal for image editing and we use it.
For example, Lightroom lets you lighten shadows, change hues, or reduce image noise. You can put filters over your pictures or make pimples disappear from a face.
Another advantage of Lightroom is that it also allows you to manage and catalog your images. This is especially advantageous if you take a lot of photos and want to edit several photos at the same time.
Lightroom is a great tool and can only be used with a monthly subscription. It costs 11.89 euros per month, but they can be cancelled at any time.
Photoshop is also a popular editing program. However, it is more likely to change, move or make individual image elements disappear, i.e. active changes to the photo.
For example, Photoshop lets you add fonts to the image, change the background, or add additional elements to the photo.
Photoshop is more suitable for professional use and also much more complex in operation than Lightroom. With the Lightroom subscription you get Photoshop directly and you can try it out. We use Photoshop very rarely.
17 practice, practice, practice
The more you practice, the faster you learning to take pictures – just like when you learn an instrument or a foreign language.
It is also helpful to find a competitor. Then you can motivate each other, exchange knowledge and judge your photos together.
This binds, is fun and drives forward!
Our tips for advanced photographers
Your photos are already good, but you want to get better? With these tips you can bring your photos to the professional level.
18 Discover photography with filters
Another very helpful accessory are lens filters. For example, you can use it to blur water and sky directly while photographing, or to reduce reflections.
We recommend purchasing a pole filter and an ND filter.
What you can do with these filters and how exactly it works, we have written down in a more detailed article:
19 Try New
Probably at this point you already have a certain topic, on which you prefer to take pictures. Whether it’s portraits, landscape pictures or animal photography – still try something new. It’s worth it!
It may well be that you then discover other photography areas that you enjoy and where you are good.
20 Find your photographic style
Most photographers specialize in one or two specific photography directions and mainly take photos in these areas.
Firstly, because they are simply more interested in a particular subject and, secondly, they probably have mainly equipment for it anyway. And thirdly, because they have just become really good at it!
It’s not a rule that you should only photograph landscapes or people, but it makes sense to specialize in one or two areas.
Then you can dive much deeper into the subject and become really good and develop your very own photographic style in your area.
21 practicing, practicing, practicing
Even if you have become really good and can see your photos, it is always worth practicing.
You are learning to take pictures.
There are endless motifs, new and better technologies are constantly being developed and there is always something new to discover.
22 Be proud and happy about what you have achieved
From fast snapping to real photography – you’ve done it! Your photos are great, meaningful and reap admiration.
Be proud of your skills and your newly acquired knowledge. How about your own social media channel where you can present your work? Or maybe even a small exhibition?
No matter if you just want to be on the road as a hobby photographer or you want to make photography a real job: Show your skills, after all the effort you deserve it!
These were our 22 steps for learning to take pictures. We hope we were able to motivate you to discover this great hobby for you. Do you have any questions or suggestions? Or have you already walked the path yourself and can contribute more tips? Then please leave us a comment!