10 Lessons I Wish I Had Known When Starting Photography

Making mistakes is all part of learning photography. In a way, it's how we come to realise what we cannot do, and what we need to spend some time focusing on - so you should never feel bad about making mistakes, it's all part of the process of achieving your goal!

In this blog post I wanted to share some of the mistakes that I have made in photography over the years, and most importantly, the lessons I have learnt from them!

I think these lessons are applicable at ANY stage of your photography journey, whether you are a beginner or a more experienced photographer, and will hopefully have the same positive impact on you as they had on me.

Let’s dive in…

Beginner Photography Tips | Photography 101

LESSON #1 : BLOCK OUT YOUR TIME

One thing many people complain of is lack of time to learn and practise, and that certainly goes for me too!

But you absolutely NEED to have time to learn photography, as it can't be done just by picking up a camera and hoping for the best 😁

One thing that has helped me enormously is consciously blocking off time that I will use for photography, whether that be taking pictures, or editing my photos, or learning something new.

If you write it down in your calendar, or your day planner, you are so much more likely to get something done!

Check out this post How to Make Time When Learning Photography which does exactly what it says (and you can download a free planner whilst you there too!)

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LESSON #2 - LEARN THINGS IN ORDER

Have you ever noticed that when you learn one thing in photography, it invariably means you need to learn something else first?! It's like a never ending merry go round! Before you know it you are going down the rabbit hole and wandering down paths that won't actually help you that much at that particular point in your journey.

Although there are some things that need to be learnt in tandem, for the most part, you can actually follow a learning path, layering on the knowledge.

When you skip ahead, and haven't quite learnt everything in the steps before, you make the process longer and harder than it needs be.

Work on your getting your foundations right first - starting with exposure - and then layer everything else on on top. I can tell you that I spent years wandering aimlessly over the internet, but not getting very far as nothing far as nothing tied together. I had simply skimped some important bits by not staying focused on what I should have been learning.

To help you with that, you can download a free Photography Learning Roadmap t that will help you understand what you need to concentrate on first, and what you need to learn next. Grab it now by clicking on the image below:

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LESSON #3 - DON'T GET TOO COMFORTABLE

There is ALWAYS something new to learn in photography, or a new way to shoot, or a new location to shoot in. When we do the same things all the time, it leads us to be uncreative, or worse, stuck in a way of doing things that isn't helping our skills (for example, staying in AV mode when you should be moving onto manual mode 😉)

For me personally I stayed on AV mode far too long, and always wondered why I couldn't get the images I could see in my head. I learnt manual mode and BOOM, I could do it!

I wasted literally YEARS just because I was scared to take that next step. Always push yourself to the next level - whatever feels uncomfortable now will start to become more like second nature the more you work at it.

If you are not yet shooting in manual mode then I strongly advise you to make that your next stop on your photography journey. You can read this post How to Get Started Shooting in Manual Mode if you are not sure where to start, or, if you already know what to do but are having a hard time knowing which settings to use when, read how to choose your settings in manual mode which will hopefully make it seem a whole lot less scary.

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LESSON #4 - DEVELOP YOUR OWN VOICE

There are so many talented photographers around that it can be tempted to take their style and try to copy it.

I know I did, and my style would change with the wind!

However, you should always try to put your own spin on your images - something that makes the images uniquely yours. Sure, use someone else for inspiration, but try to work out what it is you are drawn to from that photographer, and simply try to incorporate elements into your images.

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LESSON #5 - INVEST IN EDUCATION

In the beginning of my journey, I didn't want to invest in education as I thought I could learn it all from the mighty Google.

So I'd read 12 different blog posts from 12 different sites, then try to patchwork all the information together in a way that made sense......and then had the gall to wonder why I wasn't seeing much in the way of results!

Because of this, it took me three years to learn photography, and I ended up investing in a course in the end anyway!😣

I could have saved myself so much time and frustration just by taking a course in the beginning.

Investing in education is the single most important thing you can do to help you take amazing images, don't be tempted to skip it! My step by step program, Auto to Awesome, opens again soon, so be sure to get your name on the waitlist if you want to hear more.

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LESSON #6 - MEET WITH OTHERS ON THE SAME JOURNEY

The one thing that has been actually very helpful in photography is having my own little photography group.

It really wasn't something that I even thought would be important, but it turned out to be invaluable!

Talking to people who have similar goals or ambitions can really help you on your photography journey, as they can help you come up with a plan for your photography, give you feedback on your images, give you ideas or just point you in the right direction on something.

It's a great way of taking what can be a solitary hobby and make it into something much more engaging and fun!

You can create your own little group of friends if you know of others who are interested in photography, or (if like me) you are alone in that aspect, come and join me (and 6000 others!) in our own photography group, the Live Snap Love Lounge. It’s free!

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LESSON #7 - UNDERSTAND THAT GEAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

I physically shudder to think about how much I spent on various tools and gadgets that didn't help my photography one bit (or at least not much!)

I spent SO much money on lenses and tools that I now never (or rarely) use and probably a helluva lot more.

When you are about to purchase something, ask yourself if it helps with getting the key foundations right - your photography skills - if it doesn't, my advice is to leave it on the shelf and invest in something that does.

If you are just starting out in photography, the only other items I recommend you get yourself (apart from your camera!) is a prime lens - something like the 50mm F1.8 or the 35mm is ideal - and a grey card. That’s pretty much it.

Everything else will still be there in a few months time if you feel you need it then.

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LESSON #8 - PRESETS AND ACTIONS ARE NOT THE ANSWER

I have spent more money than I care to mention on actions and presets - and none of them really gave me 100% what I was after.

That was because I didn't know how to edit, so I couldn't look at an image and see what it needed.

Editing is not just about pretty colours or a certain look (although that can be part of it!) it's about creating mood, drawing your viewers, and so much more.

Learning how to edit (and not just how the tools work) was a big turning point for me in photography, as I know it has been for others too.

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LESSON #9 - STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY

When I first started learning photography, I would a spend a lot of time looking at interviews or blog posts from my fave photographers, searching for their random tips and tricks, or I would be in various forums or groups trying to see what everyone else was doing.

And if I saw an interview which told me I needed to find my photography style, I would concentrate on that even though I wasn't anywhere NEAR ready to be doing that!

If I saw that my fave photog shot with back button focus, I would switch to that. I'd then find another photographer saying that they DIDN’T use back button focus, so I would switch back. Never mind that I didn't understand ALL the other elements that go into getting a tack sharp image!

The point I’m trying to make is that perhaps each of these elements are important, but it is all RELATIVE to where you are right now. Learning about back button focus when you don’t even know how to switch your focus points isn’t going to be helpful. Finding your photography style when you can’t shoot in manual mode or edit your photos is going to be nothing more than frustrating.

Stay focused on your own journey, and you’ll find that you can learn photography in weeks, and without the frustration. Remember to grab your free learning blueprint so you can see what you should be focusing on next:

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LESSON #10 - IMAGES DON'T NEED TO BE PERFECT

As photographers, we talk so much about making sure that our exposure is correct, or different ways to get creative with composition, or the light we can use, that it's easy to get bogged down in thinking of our images in only those terms.

But sometimes, all that matters is that you have captured a moment that you otherwise would have missed. Even the act of picking up your camera means you have achieved something that many, many other people never do - and that is appreciate the moment in the here and now, and recognised it as something you'll want to treasure for ever.

I wish you all the best on your photography journey - and I’d be honored if you took me along with you! Join our facebook group so we can stay in touch, or better yet, join the mailing list so you’ll never miss out on any of the good stuff (plus you’ll get a whole host of goodies when you do!)