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Photography Tips For Beginners

My husband and I are so excited to share our photography tips for beginners with you today! Photography has been one of my most requested blog posts, and initially, I was hesitant to share because we are not experts by any means. We are still learning new things every day, and with each experience. However, we have had lots of practice from shooting 2+ a week. For those of you that are new around here, my husband Logan takes all of my blog photos and I edit them! I can’t thank Logan enough for all the time and energy he has put into learning photography. For a majority of this post, I am going to hand it off to him!

When I originally began to help Madison with her blog photography, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. There are so many times that Madison needed an outfit shot and posted in a short time frame due to collaboration deadlines, and scheduling with other photographers was getting difficult and expensive. We quickly realized that it would be very convenient and cost efficient if I had basic photography knowledge, in order to support Madison and her blog. Now that you have a little back story, let’s get to the good stuff!

What We Use

We began by borrowing my dad’s Canon Rebel just to get some practice with manual setting before we invested in a camera ourselves. I began watching and reading an abundance of YouTube videos and online articles like photography tips for beginners. After months and months of practice, trial and error, and countless youtube videos, we started to outgrow the Canon Rebel. We then switched to the Canon 6D, and this is what we currently use! In addition to the camera body, great lenses are are important when trying to take images to the next level. When Madison and I are taking photos, I will use a 85mm and a 50mm lens. Typically we use the 85mm lens, but the 50mm lens when shooting indoors.

Cropped Frame vs. Full Frame

The biggest difference between the Canon Rebel (cropped) and the Canon 6D (full frame), was the cropped sensor. A cropped frame camera shoots images at a magnifier of 1.5x. This became problematic quickly, because I would often have to stand so far away from Madison in order to get most of her outfit in the photo. It was often hard to find areas to shoot that allowed the distance that we needed (for example: when shooting inside or on busy streets). When shooting from a distance, this also compromised the quality of the photo. Switching to a full frame camera has been a game changer for us! You can find out whether a camera is full frame or cropped frame in the features or specifications section before purchasing! This is something that is often difficult to explain without a visual, so we gave an example of the difference between a cropped frame vs. a full frame camera below:

Shooting In Manual

The most difficult thing to learn when taking photos was shooting in manual. In order to have complete control over the image that you are producing, shooting in manual is the way to go! Manual mode is made up of 3 basic components that control the quality of the images.

  1. Aperture – This controls the space that light is able to pass through in order to enter the camera. The lower the aperture, the brighter the image will be. This setting also affects the focus of images, called bokeh. Bokeh is a blurry background that is the result from a lower aperture.
  2. Shutter speed – This is the easiest settings to understand. The shutter speed simply controls the length of time that the shutter is open. A fast shutter speed will create a darker image, but it also creates clear photos with extensive motion.
  3. ISO – This changes the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. This is extremely useful in low light situations. The higher the ISO, the brighter the image.

Understanding these components will give you a good base to start taking great photos! However, practice is the only thing that can improve and take your skills to the next level. There will always be variables such as weather, time of day, and shadows that will affect the images. It took a lot of practice before knowing how to adjust the settings in the correct way in these circumstances in order to get the lighting and feel that I wanted.

Raw vs. JPEG

The last topic I want to explain is RAW images.  Everything I shoot is in RAW, and it is extremely important. Raw images hold considerably more data than a typical JPEG image. This greatly improves the flexibility and control of the image when Madison is editing. I am always reluctant to show people the Raw images, because before edited they often look dull to the eye. Once Raw images have been edited, the image quality is significantly enhanced. Here are a few examples below of images before and after being edited in Lightroom by Madison:

Editing In Lightroom

Logan takes the photos, and then hands them off to me to edit. I have used Lightroom from the beginning and I love it! Like Logan said, each variable (light, weather, shadows) create different circumstances that effect your final image. Now, I have created some presets of my own that I typically use in different situations that allow my photos to look cohesive and have a similar feel. I gravitate towards a more light, bright, and warm photo!

Because Logan shoots in RAW, I have complete control over the photo when editing it. It is amazing what you can do with a RAW image! When using Lightroom, these are the adjustments found in the “basic” section that I typically manipulate to create the image that I want!

  1. Temperature: Our camera naturally shoots a little blue, so I yellow up the photo significantly to create a warm look.
  2. Tint: To bring a little life to my skin, I slightly adjust the tint a little pink.
  3. Exposure: Depending on how dark or light the photo is taken, I will take the exposure up or down! This is personal preference, however I typically like the photo to be more exposed.
  4. Whites: Opposite of blacks, this affects the areas of pure white in your photo. I use this to brighten an image
  5. Contrast: This defines the area of lightness and darkness, and has an effect on the “pop” of the photo. I typically adjust this slightly to the right
  6. Highlights: This affects the light areas of the photo
  7. Shadows: This affects the dark areas of the photo. I typically use this to brighten an image
  8. Blacks: Opposite of whites, this affects the darkens black areas of your photo. I typically use this to darken and image

I hope that this explanation and our photography tips for beginners helped in some way! We could go into more depth for each one of these topics, so if you have any questions at all please send them our way!

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6 Comments

  1. December 29, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Great post Madison! I have always loved your pictures! Now if you guys can just teach Russ how to do this ;). I think this post convinced me to finally give in and get light room! Happy New Year!

    Xo-
    Courtney Buechle
    (thefinishingtouchokc)

    • January 3, 2018 / 10:11 am

      Hi Courtney!! Yes, you will love Lightroom! If you have any questions, let me know! Happy New Year!

  2. December 29, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    These are amazing tips! My hubby is the one who takes about 99% of my photos too. I have slowly been learning how to use our DSLR. It really sounds like shooting in raw is the way to go.

    • January 3, 2018 / 10:11 am

      Hi Courtney! Yes! When shooting in Raw, you will definitely see a difference in the ability to edit exactly how you want!

  3. Elyse Anderson
    January 4, 2018 / 2:28 pm

    Actually learned a lot. You and Logan are the **DREAM TEAM**

    Love you guys!

  4. March 23, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    Maddi! This is so so helpful! Thank you for sharing all of this! 🙂

    xo, Aubrey

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