Advice for the Beginner Photographer

Magnolia Ranch Bridal Portrait

It’s a new year. In the spirit of that, many people make new years resolutions. To lost that weight, buy that car, finally start a business. If you finally took the plunge and bough yourself a camera, maybe invested in a prime lens or even the glorious 70-200mm, then this post is for you. I’m here today to share my beginner mistakes and those of other photographers that I learned from. This is (almost) everything you need to know as a beginner photographer.

I recently shot a wedding at Magnolia Ranch in Harrow, Ontario. Extremely gorgeous wedding, location, everything. The videographer was just starting out and a friend of the brides. This was her first official wedding as a videographer. As you all know, I’m honing in my skills as a videographer for all of my ADP brides as well so I was also taking small video clips to put together for a highlight film of the couple for my own portfolio. The videographer was doing an awesome job, she was super sweet and her skills were top notch for just starting out, (I feel a but coming on) BUT she made one fatal mistake. This is where my first piece of advice comes in.

Familiarize yourself with the “format” function!

She had accidentally formatted her card because she didn’t realize what it meant. She got home and ran it through a data recovery software which was able to recover all the files but they were all corrupted therefore unusable. Lucky for us, I was taking little videos throughout the day so she’ll try and use those. How it turns out is still unknown but fingers crossed for a good outcome!

This isn’t unusual though! I remember when I was a beginner photographer, I had no idea what that meant. This leads to my next piece of advice.

Bridal Portrait
Magnolia House, Harrow, Ontario

Know your camera!

When you first start out, you probably want to buy the best camera out there regardless of the cost. Having the best equipment doesn’t insure the best photos. I recommend, for beginner photographers, you start off on a cheaper camera, $500-$700. Find one that you can switch the lens to and maybe even a full-crop camera. That way, you’re forced to learn your camera in order to produce spectacular results. This allows you to get creative and once you upgrade you can further improve on the skills you already have. Ask people, go out shooting, watch youtube videos and get to know your camera!

Nobody learns to drive in a Maserati. You bang up an old beater until you get a better understanding. Then you get the Maserati, or in my case a Hyundai Elantra because Maserati is a dream right now. Maybe one day haha!

You don’t need a full crop camera to do great work!

I will say that again for the ones in the back, you don’t need a full crop camera to produce some amazing images. As a beginner photographer, it was hard for me to throw $1,500+ on a camera and more on lenses when I wasn’t sure how successful my business would be. I spent $700 on a Nikon camera from Costco and started shooting whenever and wherever I could. I called my sister in law like 38 thousand times and same with my sister. This was because even though I was just beginning photography I knew this one simple truth:

Practice, Practice, Practice!

What is the point of knowing your camera, figuring out how to NOT accidentally delete everything if there is nothing to delete. If you want to take those incredible photos that end up on the history pages, start by practicing. I can guarantee that you will not be super great at first. Take that first shot and improve from there. I used to get so annoyed at people who would tell me that I have to keep practicing and that’s the only way to get “good” or improve but it’s true so do it!

Take advantage of every learning opportunity!

Failure is a learning opportunity. Watching educational photography videos instead of binge watching Netflix, learning opportunity. Second shooting. Assisting. Shadowing. These are all super great resources for beginner photographers to use. Take advantage of the photography Facebook groups in your area. If you ever want to learn, post questions and inquiries in there. Ask if anyone would let you follow them for a day while they’re shooting so that you can learn. There are always tons of people that are willing to help out a beginner photographer! Once you make some connections and have those photos you can get to work.

Detail: Perfume
Location: Magnolia House, Harrow, Ontario

Invest in a good editing software.

Personally I use Lightroom and I know that there are others but whichever you choose, look up reviews, videos, ask opinions in the Facebook groups and see what everyone is saying. Regardless of which you choose, it will be better than that free app you have that lets you change the exposure and tint and that’s about it. You’ll have times where you need extensive editing done to a single photograph so you’ll need the tools. This is why the next piece of advice is crucial as well.

Shoot. In. Raw.

I cannot stress this enough. Shooting in JPEG doesn’t change the look of the photo to the naked eye but it makes a world of difference while editing. A single raw photo stores about 4 times the amount of data than a JPEG image. This helps you really customize your photos and it will SAVE you so many times! You’re bound to forget to change your settings while shooting and going from a low light situation to a bright one, your photo will be overexposed. If you shoot in JPEG that photo is lost, BUT If you shoot in raw, you have hope that you can save some data in that photo in post-production.

Pro tip: If your photo looks too over/under exposed, change it to black and white and in most cases you can save it that way!

Don’t be afraid of higher ISO but do be aware of it.

Higher ISO will increase the “noise” in your photos. That is just a fact of life. Sometimes you have no choice but to do that; It’s better to have a noisy photo than no photo at all. Other times, we are tempted to raise the ISO in situations when we really don’t need to. Just be aware of your camera’s limits and remember that you can enhance it further one it’s out of camera!

Check out my website portfolio to get some inspiration and follow along on my Instagram page for giveaways, more tips, and some awesome photos!

Until next time,


Andreia Danielle

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