Photography for Beginners: Series Introduction


Photography is something I’ve always enjoyed. I alway took tons of pictures growing up, and I love captured fun moments we had as a family. When I was a senior in high school, I worked at a Target Portrait Studio during the holiday season, and I really enjoyed it.

I always wanted to take a photography class in high school, but because I was lame and intimidated by all the “cool” people that took the class, I decided not to. I’ve always regretted that, especially since I’ve realized I’m way cooler than anyone that was in that class (just kidding. Kind of.)

When I started blogging a few years ago, I quickly discovered the importance of quality pictures. Forrest and I were able to get a  Nikon D3100 with a couple of kit lenses, and I quickly started learning how to use it. I loved reading tutorial after tutorial and practicing every chance I got. After a few months, I upgraded to my first 50mm lens and started seeing marked improvement.

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While I would definitely not claim to be a professional, I’m learning more and more every day, and I like to think I take pretty good pictures (more so of people than food.) I’ve even been building up my own photography business – 480 Photography. As I was thinking about this, I thought it would be fun to combine my knowledge with a few other photographers I’ve reached out to, to help people take better pictures.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a variety of beginning photography posts. These posts are geared toward people who have DSLRs, but they have really know idea what they are doing. I’m not trying to put professional photographers out of business, or encourage the idea that anyone can be a photographer – simply, I want to help people just take more advantage of the expensive camera they have.

I haven’t been as good about updating this series as I would have liked to. I hope to add some more to these series eventually, but I am slowly adding some details below to each of the topics I eventually hope to cover in more depth.

Suggested Photography Equipment

I personally use the Nikon D7100. For a few years, I used the Nikon D3100, and it worked very well. The 7100 produced a little bit higher quality pictures, and I really love it. We shoot with the Sigma 24-70mm (which can be used with Canon DSLR cameras) and the Nikon 50mm 1.8.

I shot with the Nikon 50mm for a long time. I really love it for close up shots and for food photography. It also is excellent for portrait photography – especially headshots. However, for everyday shooting, it was annoying to have to always back up into a corner to take pictures!

After some research, I decided that a 24-70mm 2.8 would be a great option – it gives a nice range of lens length, the apperature is relatively low, and it looked like it would take sharp pictures. I ended up getting the Sigma 24-70, rather than the Nikon, because it was a fraction of the price. I feel it takes great pictures still.

You can click the link above for a few more of my recommended photography equipment!

I highly recommend checking out KEH for photography equipment. You can buy and sell equipment there, and after looking through it, I found that the prices were extremely reasonable.

Indoor Natural Light Photography Tips

I love natural lighting. I feel that it really creates such a natural, beautiful tone. When you are outside, it can be easier than indoors (so long as you are shooting during the right hours!) This post really goes into a lot of details about the art of indoor natural light photography, so I recommend checking it out.

Photography Prop Ideas & Tips

Tour of DSLR & Photography Terminology

The Art of Lighting

Lighting is the key to any photography – whether you are using artificial lighting or natural lighting, it really can make or

Basics of Shooting in Manual

Ah…manual! The thought of it scares many people away, but honestly, I don’t think it’s that difficult once you get the hang of it. Say NO to Auto by Kristen Duke is an AMAZING introduction to getting out of Auto.

There are a few terms you need to know for shooting in manual:

  • Aperture – this is sometimes referred to as the f/stop number. Aperature controls the amount of exposure in the camera. It also affects the depth of field, or, in plainer terms, how blurry the background is. The lower the aperature, the more blurry and creamy the background will be. There is a mode on DSLR cameras that allows you to adjust the aperature manually, but the camera adjuts the other settings to work with your f/stop. This can be a good place to start.
  • Shutter Speed – this refers to the amount of time a the film or digital sensor in a camera is exposed to light.
  • ISO – this affects the amount of light let into a camera. If I have good natural light, I keep this as low as possible. If you crank it up really high, it can make your pictures less crisp and more grainy. However, in low light situations, it can really help!

To get started with shooting in manual, I recommend looking at what the settings are in an auto shooting session. When you look at your camera, it should show what the aperature setting is, what the shutter speed is, and what the ISO is. After looking at that, you can try and mimic similarar settings in manual.

Settings for Different Situations

Taking Photos of Kids Outside

Options for Photo Editing & Basic Editing Tips

Printing Options

Fun Ways to Display Pictures

Round up of Photography Tutorials

Until then, here are some inexpensive books and courses I recommend:

Unexpected Every Day: From Snapshots to Lifestyle Photography in 30 Days ($19) – GREAT resource for those just starting out.


Say NO to Auto by Kristen Duke. Such an awesome book for those of you just getting started with your DSLR! It’s only $10 for the eBook version; $20 for the print!



ANY ebook from Digital Photography School is awesome. Here are a couple I recommend:

Natural Light: Mastering a Photographer’s Most Powerful Tool ($19.99)
14 Recipes for Amazing Portraits ($9.99)
How to Take Gorgeous Pictures of Your Kids ($29.99)
Kids Posing Guide ($19.99)
iPhone Photography ($19.99)

Tasty Food Photography by Pinch of Yum (geared toward food photographers, but it has great tips for all!) ($29)






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  • I have a camera . The small kind. I am trying to learn to use it. I do plan to work up to a bigger one soon.I have tight budget now.I try take photographs with my cellphone.I try to look for memorable shots.I want to learn correctly and be myself.
  • This is so nice of you to do that, and those picture are really good! I'll tell you the truth- it's a long time I wanted to buy a camera but every time I got afried that I'm didn't really know how to used that. maybe I need 'jump into the river', try to learn and belive of the experience.
  • I look forward to this serious. i want to learn but I have no idea where to even start. A class just wont fit in my schedule or budget this year.
    • I totally understand! It's hard to take time out to take a class. If you want some great online classes that you can take at your own pace, I highly recommend Creative Live: (affiliate link)
  • This is just what I need!!!! I finally saved up enough money to purchase myself a "good" camera September 5, 2014, a Nikon D3200 with an 18-55mm lens. I love taking pictures and the post photo process as well. I have a very run rush and hurry life and I've found that taking and tweaking pics is very relaxing for me. My own personal therapy I guess you could say. (my husband also bought me a 55-200mm lens for our anniversary)Anyway, I bought my new camera September 5th and took it with me to a friends wedding September 6th for a test drive. I was able to take several beautiful pics at the church and later found out I was the only one who got a few special moments. (She did have a hired photographer and I was very careful to stay out of her way) These of course were all taken in auto mode because just like everyone else, I have no idea how to use the manual modes.At the reception my husband was finally able to catch up with me and since he owns and knows how to use a "good" camera, he has a Minolta XG-1and he took photography in school, I figured he'd be able to help, nope!!! he showed me a few quick things and off he went shaking his head at me wondering why I just didn't get it. My husband is one of those brainy people you'd like to choke the life out of since he picks what ever it is up, immediately knows how to use it or do it and then gets upset because you didn't get it, uuggghhh!So........ with all that being said your series on "Photography for Beginners" sounds like just what I need and just at the right moment too. I'm actually going on vacation in a few weeks and of course plan on taking my camera with me to practice taking pictures in manual mode.Do you have any other tips, books, etc. you'd suggest, as I'm sure you won't be covering everything I'd like to absorb before our trip. Our trip is nothing fancy, just driving from PA to FL to visit the in-laws for a week long of no running, rushing, or hurrying........ I can't wait!! I'll get to see my granddaughter too!!!!! Thus another reason to learn how to take better pics.Thanks, rjwPS I love the pics I've gotten of her so far and can't wait to take more.
    • Hi Ruth! Thanks for the comment. I hope you've ben following along. I've been a bit slower getting everything out, but hopefully you'll find some more tips as the series goes on! Good luck with your pictures. It's such a fun art to try and master!

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