Learning photography on your own can feel like a really big ask for a beginner. There is so much information out there, and with that there are so many different photographers with several different points of view. Some photographers are obsessed with focus, others with horizon lines, some tell you never to go above 100 ISO—but what even is ISO? So with all that info you may feel entirely overwhelmed (and I don’t blame you). But learning photography really just comes down to a specific framework. If you use a simple 3-part framework to learn photography from the start then each component builds on the last one until one day you realize you’ve actually learned how to use your camera, how to control light and compose your photos, and how to edit them so that you images look exactly the way you want them to.
The Photo Method Framework to Learning Photography
There are 3 major components to learning photography, it’s truly that simple. Over the last 17 years of teaching beginner photographers, I created a specific framework for the way I teach beginners. This framework covers the full foundation of learning photography and putting it into real-life application. What are the three components?
1. Camera: learning manual mode & essential camera settings (this second part is often overlooked)
2. Shooting: controlling light, understanding white balance, and knowing foundational composition skills
3. Editing: basic editing tips & techniques
And to go along with this I have a beginners course that uses this exact framework, which I’ve taught to over 1000 beginners.
Framework 1: The Camera
Starting with the camera (your camera) is the most important beginning part of photography. If you’ve already started using your camera but are not getting results you want, it is likely your settings. Professional photographers know their own camera inside and out, and so when they want to achieve a specific result they simply use their camera settings to get them there. Learning how to use manual mode (or even a priority mode) will change the way you photograph forever. Knowing what settings to choose to achieve your desired result will start to make you feel like a badass photographer. And knowing that the outcome of the photo will actually match your vision for it—priceless. So learning manual mode and understanding why you are using certain settings is hugely important in you becoming the photographer you want to be.
The second part of this framework is understanding your camera settings. Settings like focus modes, focal points, quality, white balance and more help you to achieve the photos you want. Many settings on your camera are set to AUTO right out of the box, and changing just these settings will vastly change your outcome. And understanding your camera (is it a DX or full frame camera, mirrorless/micro 4:3 or DSLR, uses an SD or XQD card, do you use prime or zoom or kit lenses). Knowing your gear is an important first step in understanding photography.
Framework 2: Photographing
Once you know how your camera works, you’re going to need to practice with it! Much of the learning photography part comes from going out and using the information you just learned. Once you can use manual settings and have set up the camera as you desire, you can then start to see how this information comes together to make a truly impressive photo. And putting yourself in different lighting conditions while you practice is so helpful. This part of the framework is practicing with white balance (really understanding it) and then goes into compositional techniques and knowing where to place your subject in relation to the sun in any scenario.
Want to know more about this framework? I’m doing a special short video series that teaches a little something on each of these parts of the framework. It starts in a little over a week. Sign up today to find out more.
Framework 3: Editing
The last part of the framework is the first one people often want to know. But before you go trying to edit your way to a good photograph you need to learn the basics or you will continue to struggle. So although I love to teach all things editing and am impressed with the additions of AI to Lightroom, it is so much more fun if the photos you are working with are correctly exposed and are starting to look the way you want them to before you start editing.
That said, there are many ways to improve your photos when editing, and every photo actually should be edited before you present it to anyone because it can make an enormous difference. And if you’re photographing RAW format then editing is imperative since there is no camera compression and edit to make it look better SOOC (straight out of camera). Even basic editing is the difference between a “proof” and a final edited photo.
If you’re interested in learning more then definitely join the free video series. I’ll walk you through the framework and help you understand some basic information about learning photography in each section of the framework. Hopefully you’ll want to join me inside the class, but even if you don’t you’ll have a far better idea of what you need to focus on in your own learning to get you to the next step. See you soon!