Having a hobby is important. They help structure your time, promote flow against passive leisure, foster new social connections, and help you cope with stress. The benefits of having a hobby on your happiness can spill over into other aspects of your life.
If you find yourself perusing photographer instagram accounts, gleaning the latest tips and browsing through tools of the trade, it may be time for you to expand your photography hobby.
We see videos and articles every week about the person who quit their corporate job (or was laid off) and decided to pursue their hobby as a full-time career. You may not be at that point, but who's to say you might not one day?
This post will walk you through 10 tips to expand your photography hobby.
learn your camera settings
Whether you're taking photos with your phone or a camera, take the time to learn about it. Read the manuals, watch videos online, and read blog posts from other photographers. Understand aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance, among other features. The more you understand about these settings, the easier it will be for you to take great photos, troubleshoot when you want to adjust something, and elevate your game.
don't underestimate practice shoots
The best way to get better...is to keep practicing. Take a lot of pictures. Make a daily habit of doing at least one photo shoot a day. There's always something new to learn!
Go outside, stay inside. But taking lots of photos, and analyzing them after, is how you can learn from mistakes, experiment with new ideas, and improve your technique.
Taking a lot of photos helps you learn to 'see' the scene better, and you may even discover some unexpected treasures.
improve your composition
Read or watch videos about composition, both in design and in photography. When you're taking photos, think about what elements you want to be included in the shot and how they look when arranged together. Pay attention to the rule of thirds, and lead lines, when you're composing your shots, to improve the visual appeal of your photos. Additionally, try to keep the horizon level and avoid cutting off important features in your photos. Have plenty of storage cards ready to go so you don't hesitate to take many photos.
invest in the right gear
Quality equipment is essential for any photographer, but it doesn't have to break the bank especially if you are starting out. Invest in a camera body capable of taking high-resolution photos and supports interchangeable lenses. Next, you may consider an external flash or tripod if your budget allows it.
In this list you'll see recommendations to take courses and learn new skills, as well as find your niche. As you do those things, you may come across new software or equipment that can elevate you to the next level. Keep an Amazon list or a note on your phone with items to come back to as you save for the future.
learn photoshop and lightroom
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop are essential tools for any photographer. With Lightroom, you can edit, organize, and share your images on the cloud. With Photoshop you can make creative adjustments like selective color correction or special effects. Both of these tools allow you to achieve professional-looking results. You can find introductory and advanced tutorials on both software online.
Paying for the software may be something you need to save for. If you're a student, check with your university or college to see if you can get a free subscription while you're enrolled.
use smartphone apps
Don't turn up your nose at apps on your phone for taking photos...especially if you're using your phone to take photos!
Apps like ProCam and VSCOcam have built-in editing capabilities that let you adjust exposure, contrast, and many other features to make your photos look more polished.
The best part is these apps are free and easy to use. You can also take photos on your Mac - check out https://setapp.com/how-to/take-photo-on-mac, to learn the tips for taking good pictures on a Mac.
take new courses
Taking a photography course or workshop may speed up the learning process if you tend to drag your feet with learning on your own. You may be able to find a master class from a professional photographer. You'll also get to meet other photographers in your area (if the workshop is in person).
Check out Udemy, Domestika, Skillshare, Creative Live, and The School of Photography for online courses. Expert Vagabond also put together a list of the 10 awesome online photography classes.
find your niche
I mentioned finding your niche earlier in the post. As you experiment more, you may find a certain type of lense, or a certain type of editing, that you're really interested in. Dive into the deep end and develop those skills. It can help define your style and make more meaningful work. Your niche can also be your subject matter.
join a community
Look for Facebook or MeetUp groups focused on photography to meet others interested in the craft, share tips, get feedback on your work, and exchange ideas. You can also check out Reddit threads or online forums where you can ask questions and get help from experienced photographers who are interested in giving back.
experiment and take risks
You've probably heard that there's no such thing as a mistake. The more practice you do with your photography, from practice shoots to editing your photos, and the more you experiment, the more likely you are to stumble into a niche that makes your heart sing.
If you're ready to make the jump to becoming a professional photographer, you can check out this link with tips for aspiring travel photographers (though the tips apply to other niches as well!): https://www.goabroad.com/articles/photography/7-tips-for-aspiring-pro-travel-photographers
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