PBG: Starting Photography – The Basics #1

Starting Photography

Do you want to start photography but have no idea where to start?

Hello and welcome to our PBG series, an ultimate list of guides written by us covering everything from first steps in photography up to the point of becoming a ‘pro’.

We, at Photornia, are writing tutorials and guides to help photographers of all level to extend their knowledge or find extra ideas or tips.

If you are doing already photography, you can skip to the required section (post) or browse our blog for many complete guides in photography and unique tips, but I strongly recommend you to read it.

Starting in photography can be a bit intimidating. To be a photographer you may need a budget, and with honesty, I hope you have deep pockets and willing to invest.

But before doing that, let’s talk about starting in photography in general, and how to improve your photography skills before making any massive investment.

We can have a look into starting in photography with a mobile phone camera, compact point-and-shoot or an entry-level DSLR before going to invest (more) into photography.

In this way, you will know if you have the true ‘touch of photography’.

Now the question is: are you willing to continue?

Let’s assume that you already have a mobile phone with a camera, maybe you have also or you want to buy a compact camera or an entry-level DSLR to learn with it.

My first recommendation is not to buy a point and shoot or compact camera. Although they are relatively cheap on the market, those are not representing the future of photography.

It is more like: do you want to learn this using your mobile phone or you are willing to invest in a second-hand entry-level DSLR for beginning?

Although I am not trying to have any influence over your final decision, I assume that you have or you are going for the DSLR (or a mirrorless)

But a mirrorless camera is another story. The difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is that the mirrorless does not have an optical viewfinder, it does have an electronic one. And a mirror… mirror-less…

Mirrorless cameras entry level are way more expensive than DSLR.

But our main cover, for now, is going to be a DSLR.

An entry-level DSLR should not be more than $300 new and the price goes cheaper for a second hand.

There are many manufacturers, but the top ones I recommend to consider are:

  • Nikon
  • Canon
  • Sony (mirrorless)
  • Pentax
  • Olympus
  • Fujifilm (mirrorless)

There are three main winners on the market: Nikon and Canon for the DSLR market and Sony for the mirrorless market.

Most of the lens manufacturers for the DSLRs are covering both Nikon and Canon, therefore would not be an issue to find a specific lens for your niche of photography, from cheaper options to the best quality ever.

I am with Nikon for years, since the first time I’ve started in DSLR photography. My first purchase was Nikon D3300 following both Nikon D500 (APS-C) and Nikon D750 (Full-frame).

What about lenses?

As normal, every camera manufacturer are producing lenses to cover their cameras, but there are plenty of 3rd party lenses manufacturers which can cover the main camera market from today:

Top 5 camera lenses manufacturers for Nikon and Canon:

  • Nikkor (Nikon)
  • Canon (Canon)
  • Sigma (both)
  • Tamron (both)
  • Tokina (both)

Assuming that you are willing to do an investment in the future, I would recommend you studying which lenses should you focus on, what cameras and manufacturers.

Once you decided which manufacturer to go (as I’ve chosen Nikon), remain with it, otherways you will lose big money for swapping over.

My camera recommendation for now:

  • Nikon or Canon for a DSLR
  • SONY for mirrorless

Keep in mind one thing: The lenses are not interchangeable between different camera manufacturers. There are few adaptors on the market, but I would not recommend.

When starting photography, you should also take in consideration a few things.

What is the main reason for starting photography?

  • Create a business
  • Take better photographs when travelling
  • Passion or hobby
  • To take better family pictures
  • Your job or position requires you to do it.
  • For full-time freedom
  • Social media/blogging.
  • Other reasons?

Just out by curiosity, you can leave a comment in the section below: What is the reason you are starting photography or you became a photographer?

My reason is passion/hobby and aiming for full-time freedom as a photographer and blogger.

And how much you are willing to invest?

Starting in photography: investment

For any reason you are getting into photography, investment and gear should be carefully taken into consideration.

Before to know what I really needed, I had bought dozen of lenses for my cameras, investing thousands of pounds only to find myself selling everything I was not using or not needed.

Before to do any significative investment, hold on. Let’s explore our options first, get started without big investments and then decide wisely how to spend your money and how much.

Follow our series and stay tuned for more information

Starting photography to create a business

If some other photographer would be writing this post, he or she would be telling you not to start a photography business because photography is overpopulated.

But thankfully I write this post, so I am not telling you that.

Although there are many photographers on the market, everyone can bring their own value to society as photographers, and there is still plenty of room for new ones.

But before going to invest in a photography business, I would recommend learning as much as you can and practice developing your skills and abilities.

It is important to know what kind of photography business you are going to do: are you going to be a wedding photographer, product photographer, portrait, or photography will be in general only a secondary part of your business such as blogger but you need to take your own original and professional images.

As a wedding photographer, I recommend you to heavy study before, as you don’t want mistakes. You will need also deep pockets to invest in good equipment, cameras, lenses, maybe a drone etc.

Instead, if you are going to do product photography, you will not need high-end cameras or lenses. And the entry-level is just as good. More, the other accessories you will need for this type of business are relatively cheap, and only if this would be a success, you can invest more.

If you are willing to do portraits (portrait photography) take into consideration the fact that a studio may be required and a good full-frame camera with a specific outstanding quality lens.

But if you will need just for your blog (or video blog), an entry-level DSLR will do.

To take better photographs when travelling.

I will assume that you are not a full-time traveller (at least not yet) then the things are relatively simple.

Take into consideration the following:

  • Your actual budget
  • How often do you travel
  • Is this vibe gonna get you?

For most cases, my recommendation would be an entry-level DSLR with a pretty good lens. You won’t need huge investments into gear if your camera will gather dust between your travels.

If your actual budget is not a problem, you may want to take top-quality pictures during your holiday. Invest in a full-frame camera with a good quality lens.

Same goes if you travel often, as a businessman or for some other reason, and you would love to take good photographs, think to invest in some good gear

If you feel that your photography vibe is getting you, that you have that photographer fire burning inside you, consider investing the same way as you would like to start photography as a travel photographer niche.

As a travel photographer, I always recommend a strong investment in good quality gear. You definitely want to take the best photographs on your travel.

Passion or Hobby?

This would be my case: I did invest over ten grand in photography and many lenses I sold back.

Thinking about the niche you want to get in? Every niche has more or less different requirements to take out the best of it. And with those comes the investment.

You probably won’t need the high-end camera and lenses, but because you love photography so much, you are willing to invest all your savings. I am quoting myself here.

But the things with myself is that I am a “no-nicher”. I love everything about photography and to have my eye on the eye finder, to capture the best out of this world and to store the memories of the past for tomorrow under the form of a photograph.

If you are like me, you may need a good camera but multiple lenses, both primes and zoom to cover everything from wide landscapes to telephoto wildlife.

That will hurt your pocket and your credit card will scream.

To take better family pictures.

If you are a family guy (or lady) you may not need to invest much into photography.

A simple entry-level DSLR would be more than enough to have a giant leap from phone photography to DSLR photography

Still, I do recommend to keep reading on how to improve your photography to take out the best of the camera and shot brilliant family photographs.

Your job requires you to do.

Let’s say for example that you are a real estate guy and you are often advertising houses for sale or rent, you may need to take good photographs.

To reduce the costs of hiring a photographer whenever you have to do a new listing, you may be required to do it instead.

One thing not to worry about is the investment into the gear, as this won’t be your problem – the company should support the costs (unless you offer your gear for usage)

Some companies will go for compact cameras but most of them probably will go for a DSLR.

Think about one marketing strategy: you will need a very wide lens for that camera. Taking photographs will a very wide lens to a property indoors will make the rooms look a lot bigger.

More you will need is basic photography knowledge. Starting in photography, in this case, should be relatively easy. Please keep reading.

Starting Photography for full-time freedom

Passionate photographers like myself are dreaming or better said, their aim in photography is to have a full-time income, if possible passive income without the stress of creating a business plan around a niche.

When I started photography I had something in my mind (I can say the dream of my life) to have a passive income with photography.

This appeared to be harder than I thought, but not impossible by far.

My main mistake which I made is jumping like a bee from flower to flower, and approaching all kind of ways to create a passive income out of it.

And from my own mistakes, I’ve learned. Wherever you are going to choose, either microstock photography, editorial magazines, blog or any other meanings to be your own boss, one thing is clear: STICK TO IT.

Over the years I’ve tried many options, some more profitable than others but not by far-reaching my expectations. But the positive results out of this is that I can share my experiences with you on this blog, so you won’t make the same mistakes as I’ve done.

In the end, I picked blogging. My passion to write was burning inside me for a long time but only recently in the past year or so, I’ve decided to write and share all my knowledge and create a blog specific related to photography.

By combining those two, photography and blogging, I manage to create my little corner of the internet where I am sharing for free anything and I can invest my time into it.

Although for now, my incomes are relatively low, I have hope for this. I created a business plan around it to follow, and if you are going to do this, I recommend you the same.

But wherever you are going to chose, make sure you are administrating your time wisely.

Starting photography for social media/blogging

As just earlier I’ve been talking about myself getting into blogging as a photographer, now I am explaining to you why is important to take your own photographs for your blog.

Although not all the photographs from this blog are taken by myself (proper credit given to each of them and the creative commons licenses are respected), it is more than important to take your own photos for the type of blog you are owning.

Let’s say that you own a food blog, okay? You are reading this PBG in order to improve your photography skills. You got a brand new camera. Taking your own food photographs for your food blog is so important that not only you are sharing the results of your recipes with your followers, but help your blog to outstand in SEO (search enginee optimisation)

Posting your own photographs will eventually end on search engines and attract more people to your blog through your images.

As an instance, for now, about 30% of my search engine traffic comes through the dozen of my images on google, proper tagged related to the content I am writing.

The images which I do not own but licenced them for usage, will not appear on search engines (because they are free-stock images) due to duplicates, or if they do, they are not promoted by Google.

This is why is so important as a blogger to be your own photographer and take your own photographs if possible, for the content you are writing.

But what about social media?

The main key to success as a photographer on social media is to post good quality images regularly (and have an idea about how to grow some traffic)

I am not a social media expert, but I’ve studied a dozen photographers. Good quality and consistency is the main key.

You can also convert your traffic from social media into visitors to your blog or customers and have a regular income.

Yes. blogging, social media. Workaround them and create your own business plan.

Other reasons for starting photography?

It can be many other reasons why you decided to start photography, but hey! Do not give up and believe in yourself.

Succeeding as a photographer to be like this: work smart not hard!

Next chapter I will talk about the basics of a DSLR. If you find this post useful please commend below, and do not forget also that this is part of a longer series.

Reading those posts in order should be more than enough from starting first time in photography to getting to be a brilliant photographer.

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PBG (Photography Beginner Guides) Starting Photography - The basics is first of a long series of posts, an ultimate list of guide written by us covering everything from first steps in photography to the point of becoming a 'pro'

About Gabriel Mihalcea

Howdy! You’re here! Great things to start! Hi, I’m Gabriel I live in the UK in the beautiful town of Hastings. I am a photographer, and I do DSLR and drone photography. I always loved to capture everything I could see through the eye-finder of my Nikon, or the bird-eyes of my drone. My expectations are to share everything I learned about photography and help anyone in need to reach their potential. Honestly, nobody ever reached their maximum potential as there would always be more room for improvement, more information to achieve or new technologies in photography released on the market. But leaving that aside, I am here to help anyone in need.

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