Today, with improvements in technology, phone cameras, and digital SLR cameras can turn anyone into a photographer, however, if you are serious about this art form, you should note that there are plenty of photography beginner lessons.  In fact, it is safe to say that in reality, learning photography for beginners is still as complex, and as satisfying, as it has always been.

Taking a beginners photography course should include all the foundational skills necessary for any new photographer to succeed. Amongst these, you can expect to pick up knowledge around the issues of exposure, shutter speed, lighting, getting to know your DSLR and so much more.

Photography beginner lessons can be quite technical at first, but don’t let this overwhelm you. Once you understand the most fundamental part of any photography lesson which is about the relationship between aperture (f-stop) and shutter speed, you will be set to create images like a professional.

Remember that many professional photographers began their careers as hobbyists who knew absolutely nothing at first. The first place to start is to find a reputable beginners photography course, or even a private tutor, that will give you the information that you need, while making the process enjoyable at the same time.

Regardless of where your photography lessons end up taking you, it is certainly a very satisfying way to express oneself.

Photography lessons for beginners: Introducing the DSLR

One of the saddest things about a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) is that these days, millions of people own them, but never seem to progress beyond shooting on the auto functions! The reason that this is such a great pity, is that by simply pointing and shooting, you have very little input into the creative potential of what your DSLR can actually do! Whether you are shooting digitally or with an analogue (film) camera, by learning a few photography rules for beginners, all this could change and you could be well on the way to exploring the fascinating world of photography.

Given the digital world that we find ourselves in, it is highly likely that one of the first things your photography tutor will do will be to give you a tour of your camera and explain where to find the buttons you will be using to learn how to shoot on manual!

Basically, SLR or DSLR cameras are not made as typical point and shoot cameras, but rather, because they are more complex (and expensive) they give the photographer a great amount of control when it comes to lighting and exposure. In fact, with an SLR or DSLR, you could shoot the same image in about 100 different ways if you understand how to use your settings!

So what does single-lens reflex mean? A single-lens reflex camera is one that uses a prism and mirror system. The mirror reflects what you are seeing in the lens which means that you will capture exactly what you will see. SLR refers to an analogue or film camera and the D in DSLR simply refers to digital!

Another major difference is that the DSLR will record or capture images on a sensor, whereas the film or analogue SLR will capture your image on film. Both are referred to as 35mm cameras and whether you are capturing on film or digitally, the foundational principles of photography are exactly the same. This means that the photography rules for beginners apply to both digital and analogue cameras!

On the note of mirrors and sensors, it is absolutely essential that these are kept dust-free at all times. To do this always make sure that your lens cap is on when you are not shooting. And if your lens is not on then make sure that your body cap is on. One of the great advantages of an SLR camera is that you can use different lenses, just be sure that you are very quick about changing them and that if you are outside in nature, elements like wind, dust, sea spray, fog are to be avoided by trying, by any means possible, to shelter the inside of your camera.

Digital SLRs and film SLRs are used by serious, or professional photographers. So if you have one, it’s time to grab hold of those photography rules for beginners.

Tips for Purchasing the Right Camera Gear  

camera in the sky
Ask for advice from professional photographers before investing in your photographic equipment.- Source; Unsplash

Setting yourself up with the right camera equipment is essential if you are embarking on a beginners photography course, however, the trick is to be wise with your choices and the timing of your investments. Here are a few ideas to assist you with the decision making that goes with purchasing camera gear to learn and camera gear to last.

You should also know that not all digital cameras are made equal, but one of the most fundamental differences is that you can choose between fixed lens digital cameras and the DSLR that allows you to change lenses and therefore have more control over your focal length and ultimately depth of field, image sharpness and composition.  

The Difference Between the DSLR and a Fixed Lens Digital Camera

Generally-speaking the fixed lens DSLR is larger in size than a compact camera (something that fits into the pocket for quick point and shoots) but smaller in size than a DSLR. While a fixed lens camera has quite a lot of the same functionality as a DSLR, the most important difference is that they do not allow you to change lenses. The lens is fixed, which for the professional photographer can be very limiting.

Reasons to Consider Starting Second Hand  

If you are still learning, a beginners photography course makes sense, but when it comes to camera gear it is wise to not over-invest until you know if you are really passionate about photography or not. Also, once you have a bit more photography knowledge, you may find yourself drawn towards a particular genre of photography, like landscape photography or macro photography, for instance. This could greatly influence the type of gear that you want to ultimately invest in.

Most great photographers start out with second hand or even vintage camera equipment, which is often the wisest route until you know where you are headed!

Can’t Decide on a Camera Brand? Try this.

woman taking photo
Borrow a camera for your first few lessons. - Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

Generally, most professional photographers fall into one of two camps! They are either Nikon or Canon lovers and this choice is probably less about brand superiority and more about personal preference.

If you are learning photography for beginners and have wisely decided to not over-invest in camera gear until you understand more than the basics, you could always hire equipment from outlets like Sunshine Co or Photo Hire. This is a really good way, to not only try out different camera models and lenses but brands too.

Of course, another option to consider if you need camera gear to practice a few photography rules for beginners, is to borrow a friend’s back up camera while you find out if photography is indeed for you, or not!

Read Camera Gear Reviews

Like all things tech, digital advancements in camera equipment is happening at an extremely rapid rate! All of these changes greatly improve image quality and resolution by increasing things like the number of megapixels that are built into sensors, the progress made in terms of image stabilisation technology in lenses, and of course, much more.

Investing in camera equipment, especially if you are only taking photography lessons for beginners, can be a sizeable investment. Doing some research ahead of your purchase could save you from regret and also provide valuable peace of mind. Here are a few tips on how to do camera equipment research.

  • Check out camera equipment websites.
  • Read Google reviews.
  • Talk to other beginner and professional photographers.
  • Speak to sales assistants in camera and photo hire outlets.
  • Find a private photography teacher to ask for advice, or enrol in a photography school.
  • Download different manuals of popular camera-makes for beginners, from the internet, to compare.

Learning Photography for Beginners in a Group

Photography is an art form that can be grasped in so many diverse ways. From searching for photography beginner lessons for beginners on YouTube to committing to a qualification like a Higher Certificate or degree in Photography from a school like Vega, you have options.

Besides colleges like Vega, there are other popular photography schools in South Africa worth exploring. Choosing the right one for you depends on your personal goals, budget, and time. For instance, you could find a course for learning photography for beginners, or even a university that could take you all the way to attaining a Masters of Arts degree. Here are a few institutions to consider:

Any of these dependable educational institutions can ensure that someone who knows absolutely nothing about photography can go on to master photography and turn it into a rewarding career.

From photography lessons for beginners to a degree that includes the full spectrum of post-production in the darkroom, or digital processing that uses online editing software like Photoshop and Lightroom, there are courses available for everyone.

For novices, who don’t have the means or time to join prominent photography schools, photography beginner lessons, using a private tutor is an excellent option.

Need Photography Beginners Lessons, Consider a Private Tutor

outdoor photographer
A photogrpahy tutor will help you make the most of your digital camera on manual mode. - Source: Jéshoots on Pexels

Of course, by using the internet, knowledge is freely available on just about every topic these days, but there is little doubt that one of the most effective ways to learn anything is one-on-one. Not only will it speed up your learning but it can be extremely useful for grasping complex topics such as the types that are found in learning photography for beginners.

There are hundreds of excellent photography tutors located all over South Africa, many of whom can be found by using a reputable tutoring platform like Superprof.

There are several advantages to using Superprof, which include:

  • Being able to choose someone located near to you for face-to-face lessons.
  • Being taught online by someone further away, even overseas.
  • Learning at a time and pace that is convenient for you.
  • Requesting that emphasis be placed on areas of particular interest even in a beginners photography course.

The really important thing is to try and connect with the right tutor for you. This not only pertains to a personality connection but also to having a shared interest in a particular type of photography style or genre.

Ensure that in your search for a private tutor that you find one that comes highly recommended.

Superprof teachers, for example, come with reviews, their experience is confirmed for you and in most instances, their first lesson is offered for free.

When it comes to costs, private photography tutors who promote their services on Superprof in South Africa cost around R256 per hour.

If you are looking at learning photography for beginners, here are some of the topics you could expect to cover.

  • Different camera categories
  • Camera resolution, pixels, and image quality
  • File types (Jpg or RAW)
  • Controlling light through exposure
  • ISO
  • Aperture or f-stop
  • Shutter speed
  • The relationship between shutter speed and aperture
  • The difference between low and high depth of field
  • Landscape photography
  • Portrait photography
  • Sport or motion photography

Apart from the personal attention that is standard with private tuition, there are numerous other benefits when it comes to using a private photography tutor:

  • Lessons are informal.
  • You have instant feedback.
  • You can take your time over difficult concepts without holding up the whole class.
  • The flexibility of time.
  • Personalised content.

Remember, that one of the rewards about learning anything different today, is that you can try it online. The same applies to photography where you can choose a teacher from just about anywhere on the planet as long as you have internet and meeting software like Zoom or Skype!

The Best Advice for Any New Photographer   

Finally, there is much to learn when it comes to a beginners photography course, however, there are two things that every new photographer should consider.

From the outset, take your time mastering the theory of exposure. This is extremely important and this is where having a private teacher can be tremendously beneficial, simply because you can spend time on this fundamental topic.

Secondly, you should practise. You can never practise enough when it comes to becoming a great photographer. Don’t forget that it is those times in between your photography lessons for beginners where you are actually implementing your photography rules for beginners that you are going to improve the most.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.