Beginner Photography Training Tips for Newbies

What does it take to get good at photography? Photography training the proper way can make learning how to take great shots a breeze, whereas other methods will make you never reach that artistic and “clean” quality in your photos.

how to take good photos

Photo by Danel Solabarrieta; ISO 200, f/13, 1/125 exposure.

There are two essential parts to photography that you should learn as a beginner.

Camera Controls

Although photography is often looked at as an art where magic happens, if you don’t know how to use a camera then you won’t get anywhere. Fortunately, camera control basics are pretty easy to get a grasp on.

There are automatic controls and manual controls on virtually every camera. Even phone cameras have some manual settings. In general, for photography training you’re going to want to learn what all the manual controls are and how to use them.

To start, there are two very important controls to know: shutter speed and aperture. These both control the amount of light let into the camera. By controlling both of these settings you affect the light exposure as well as the depth of field of the shot. In addition, you can do cool action shots at high speeds or shoot a photo at extremely slow speeds and make water look like clouds.

Your goal as a beginner should be to learn how to use an SLR (or DSLR) camera on full manual mode. This means setting the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focus, and a number of other settings. Don’t worry, it’s not hard. Once you get the hang of it, it’s actually something you wish every camera had.

manual mode camera

Photo by Luciano Feitosa; ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/2500 exposure.

While automatic controls are very convenient, they prevent us from taking the photo that we imagine when seeing a scene to photograph. Photography training enables us to see a scene, imagine how we want it in your minds, and then take the shot and match our vision to the end result.

Creative Composition

The next important part to photography training is learning composition, or how to properly arrange the contents within the screen of your camera. This is an ancient art with techniques and traditions dating back to the beginning of art history. The same techniques that apply to painting, drawing, etc. apply to this. A good idea is to get some books on composition for any art (except music) and learn the techniques there.

Some basic examples are the “rule of thirds” and “leading lines.”

The Rule of Thirds. This rule states that instead of placing a subject at the center of the image, offsetting them to the left, right, top or bottom.

Leading Lines. Use the lines around you to point towards the subject of interest so that the lines lead the viewer into the photo.

Although these examples are basic, they do make a big difference in your photos if you’ve never consciously taken pictures with them in mind.

photography for newbies

Photo by Jeff Wallace; ISO 160; f/8, 1/60 exposure.

When you have both of these two parts of photography training down (composition and technical camera usage) you should have no problem getting better at photography. The next step from there is refining your style and developing your artistic eye.

About the Author:
Simon Takk, creator of, shows others how to open their eyes to the breathtaking photo opportunities all around them.

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6 responses to “Beginner Photography Training Tips for Newbies”

  1. Mark says:

    Your definition of the rule of thirds is very incomplete and could also apply to the golden ratio. The true definition of the rule of thirds is that you create a grid where you divide the image into three both horizontally and vertically. this leaves a grid of nine rectangles with the same ratio as the whole image. Then you place your main subject on one of the intersections so that it is off centered both side to side and top to bottom. The golden ratio is very similar but instead of using thirds, you create lines that are approximately forty percent of the distance in from all edges. This creates a grid of nine rectangles as in the rule of thirds, but the eight around the edges are larger than the central one that does not touch an edge. Historically the golden ratio has been with us since the early days of painting and the rule of thirds is a more recent simplification of the golden ratio since it is easier to explain and implement.

  2. Ken Ferguson says:

    That’s very good Mark, but I have not heard it called the Golden Ratio before now. I know it as the Golden mean. But this rule and the ROT should also be applied to horizon lines; whereby, if you are including a horizon line in your shot, assess both the land and sky and if say the sky is grey and uninteresting, show only 1/3 of it down from the top of frame. If the land lacks interest but the sky really pops, place the horizon line 2/3 down from the top of frame. On another note, a horizon line placed in the center of shot will invariably cause the resulting picture to appear as though it is split in two.

  3. Penny says:

    Good points Ken. By the way, golden ratio is an advanced and complex composition technique. It the rule designed for placement of elements on the frame in the aesthetic ratio which can be implemented in several ways; perhaps by using the golden mean, golden spiral or golden triangle.

    I hope that helps. Very useful guide you have here :)

  4. Enrique says:

    Mark, the Rule of Thirds determines that you should place your main subject not “on one of the intersections” (points of interest) but on ANY. Furthermore, it is possible to place you main element/subject/person on more than one of these points (2,3, and even 4).

    Ken, the Golden Ratio is also called the Golden Section (Latin: sectio aurea) or Golden Mean. Other names include Extreme and Mean Ratio, Medial Section, Divine Proportion, Divine Section (Latin: sectio divina), Golden Proportion, Golden Cut, Golden Number, and Mean of Phidias. Anyway, it is known as Phi.

    And yes, there are other rules of proportion besides the Golden Mean, Ratio, Section or Divine Proportion, Section, etc.

  5. Murali says:

    great article on beginner photography tips thanks for sharing

  6. Many articles of this type are so vague and incomplete that I truly believe that people who write them do so just so they can brag that they had something published. I have been teaching photography for 25 years and yes, the rule of thirds is helpful but, for an image to be very good, the photographer first has to find a very interesting subject. That is what is going to make a great image, even if it is dead center in the frame. The other thing that makes me suspicious about the “writer” is the fact that he did not bother to include any of his own photographs as samples. If I am the writer you bet your britches that I am going to include tons of samples using my own photographs. Oh well, I guess I just have to write an article myself and show people like this how it is supposed to be done.

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