3 Tips to Get Started in Photography

3 Tips to Get Started in Photography
Get started in photography and take control of your camera. I think it’s pretty obvious that I am passionate about photography. And trust me when I say, that I’ve been in your shoes before. Starting out, not really sure where to even begin with my photography journey, stumbling along without any help. Well, I would like to give you something I never had: help! I want to give you 3 tips on how to get started in photography. I started off with no knowledge and just a cheap point-and-shoot camera. Now, I have a lot of knowledge, a fancy Nikon D610, and a beautifully sharp Sigma 24mm 1.4 lens. But it took time to get here. And I want to help you get started!

check out my 100 Photography Blog Post Ideas post for ideas to get you started

3 Tips to Get Started in Photography - FREE guide to beginner photography!

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

my photography journey

I have discussed briefly different parts of my photography journey. Allow me to go into a little more detail. I have always loved photography. I remember one time my mom got me a little cheap film camera (the disposable ones – everyone had them!) and I took about 20 pictures of a ‘deer’ in our backyard. Only, you couldn’t see the deer at all. Alright, so I might not have always been the most amazing photographer out there, but I have always loved photography. My dad got me my first DSLR as a graduation gift from graduating high school – I was hooked. I thought I was taking fantastic images (looking back – yikes! I have improved a lot!) with my beginner camera, the Nikon D5100. I loved that camera – and still do! It took fabulous pictures. I recommend this camera to every beginner photographer out there. It’s a great first camera. But I still wasn’t learning anything.

It wasn’t until December of 2014 that I finally realized I knew nothing. I couldn’t even tell you what type of camera I had! Umm….a Nikon? I had no idea what any of the numbers on my lenses meant – I didn’t even know that I only had ‘kit’ lenses, which are the lenses that come with your camera and  – news flash- they are not the greatest.  I also had no idea about manual exposure, what’s aperture? What’s shutter speed? I am happily taking pictures on auto!

the best thing I did for my photography!

Well, January of 2015 changed everything! I took a leap of faith and signed up to be a Clickin Moms member. I want to point out, I was not a mom at that time. You don’t have to be a mom, or even a woman, to sign up! Give it a shot – it’s a wonderful community. After that I signed up for my first class, Mastering Manual Exposure. I was determined to learn more about my camera and photography. I have not looked back! That was the greatest decision of my photography career!

The best thing about photography for me is that there is always something new to learn. I am constantly learning new things.

my 3 tips to get started in photography

1. the gear

I loved loved loved my beginner camera, the Nikon D5100. Oh my goodness do I love that camera. It was an excellent tool in learning manual. One of my favorite features is that it has a screen that you can pop out and move around, which is fantastic for above shots. Buying good gear (and not just having a point-and-shoot) is really important. After buying your first beginner camera (and I do recommend getting a beginner camera first) then you can buy a beginner lens. I love the 50mm 1.8 lens. It is perfect for learning manual exposure. Which brings me to my next tip…

2. take classes

Definitely take classes. Learn manual exposure through a class. I would recommend against trying to learn manual exposure by yourself. I tried it and thought I had a handle on it, then took a class and realized I knew nothing. Classes really help you take control of your camera and take the images you want to take! After you take a class for manual exposure, expand your knowledge with more classes! Try composition, natural light, and storytelling classes.

3. shoot (everyday)

I will be first to admit that taking a picture as often as you can (everday, preffered!) will help you so much. You might not notice it at first. But compare your images you took in January to the images you took this month. Big difference, right? I can definitely tell a difference in my images! And guess what? I love the images I took this month 10 times more than the ones I took in January. I got better.
Shoot as often as you can. Take your camera with you everywhere. Photograph everything and anything. Experiment. Have fun. This is all a learning process and you need to practice in order to get better. I promise you will thank me one day for making you take pictures as often as you can! Shoot what you love, and love what you shoot. Don’t give up. Ask for help. Take classes. Seek out a mentor. Photography is an excellent hobby to get into and I hope you start!

free eBook!

As an added bonus, I have created a Beginner Guide to Photography for you. And yes, it’s FREE! (I know, I’m so generous!) If you download it and read it, please leave a review down below in the comments. Also, please comment something that is holding you back in starting photography. What is something you need help with? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

what’s included

  • 28 PDF
  • 4 exercises to help you learn
  • Beautiful images
  • Feedback

 

A Simple Guide to Beginner Photography

 

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know
Shortcuts make everything easier, am I right? I am about things to make my life easierLightroom shortcuts are amazing. They help get your work down in half the time. No joke! I love using these shortcuts to quickly edit pictures. And who wouldn’t want to quickly edit pictures? I love Lightroom for so many reasons. One of them is because of how easy Lightroom is to use. I will be honest, I started off a Photoshop only girl. But one of my friends convinced me to switch to Lightroom and I’m hooked. I don’t know what I’d do without Lightroom! Lightroom shortcuts make Lightroom my go to editing software. I only take an image into Photoshop if I have to. Like if I need to clone something horrendous out! But that doesn’t happen often. I hope you find these Lightroom shortcuts helpful and I hope they speed up your Lightroom and editing time!

check out my Why You Should be Comparing Your Images in Lightroom post for ideas to get you started

Lightroom Shortcuts You Should Know

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

lightroom shortcuts you need to know

why lightroom

As I stated above, I love Lightroom! It is so easy to use. That is my number pro. It’s also easy to learn.

Allow me to give you 4 good reasons why you should use Lightroom:

  • It’s easy!
  • You can cut your editing down by 50% from using it
  • It allows you to edit your images beautifully
  • You can make presets to make your work flow even faster

And now, without further ado, I give you my handy list of shortcuts! I have tested and made sure each of these work! I use Lightroom Creative Cloud – if you have a different version of Lightroom, and these shortcuts don’t work, let me know in the comments below so I can update my list!

general shortcuts

Press Tab to hide side panels.

Press Shift + Tab to hide all panels

Press to show/hide toolbar

Press F6 to show/hide filmstrip

Press to enter in lights out mode.

library module

To switch to Library Module press Ctrl + Alt + 1 (Cmd + Option + 1).

1. show the shortcuts

I just found this neat shortcut. If you press Ctrl + / (Cmd + / for Mac users) it will allow you to view a full list of shortcuts for each module. How neat is that? This shortcut expands beyond just the library module – it’s for each module that you are in. If you want to see a list of shortcuts for the develop module, make sure you are in the develop module! Easy peasy.

2. import + export photos

Here’s a nice little shortcut that can save you about 2 seconds 😉 If you press Ctrl + Shift + I (Cmd + shift + E for Mac users) it will allow you to import your photos. I love using this. I sometimes get distracted with all the buttons available that it takes me a little while to find a certain button. With this shortcut, I don’t have to, and it really does help to save 2 seconds of my busy editing time!
Just like with importing, if you press Ctrl + Shift + E (Cmd + Shift + E for Mac users) it will allow you to export your images.

3. set ratings, color labels, and picks/rejects

I use these shortcuts on a regular basis!! They help me when I cull my images. To set star ratings, simply press 1-5. I usually rate my images a 1 if I am unsure and a for keeper. Of course, you can come up with your own work flow. To set color labels, press 6-9. This will change the boxes around your images to certain colors. My favorite is 9 – blue, which is my favorite color! I change all my editing, finished, and ready for export images to blue.
Here’s one of my favorite tricks for Lightroom! I love setting my images as  picks/rejects. How you do this is simply press for a pick and X for a reject. I ‘reject’ any images that are for sure ones I need to delete. Missed focus, doesn’t tell a story, etc. Then I can go to Edit > Select by Flag > Rejected and have all of the ‘rejects’ highlighted and then deleting them all. Really quick & easy and now all of my complete rejects are gone!

4. different view modes

I love using the different view modes in the library modules. If you press it will enter into Grid Mode, showing all of the images in that library in a grid. Get to look through a lot of images. If you press E it will enter into Loupe view, which is basically viewing one image at a time. If you press it will enter into compare mode, where you can compare two of your images. This is great if you are trying to get your editing to be consistent. If you press it will enter into Survey mode, which will allow you to press as many images as you’d like to survey and make sure they are consistent. I love this view. After I am done editing, I press all of my images and then to see if they all look the same. Then if I need to tweak any, I can click on that image, switch to develop, and edit, then switch back to Library to see if the changes look more consistent with the other images.
If you press = or – it will change the size of your grid thumbnails.

develop module

To switch to the Develop Module, press Ctrl + Alt + 2 (Cmd + Option + 2).

1. crop shortcuts

By pressing R it will bring the crop tool up, allowing you to crop right away. Then while in the crop tool, you can press X to rotate your crop view from landscape to portrait, and vice versa. Then if you would like to change the overlay of the crop, simply press O. This will cycle through some different crops, like the Rule of Thirds, the Golden Spiral, Golden Ratio, Golden Triangles, and more. While you’re in some of these crop overlays, you can also press Shift + O to rotate the crop view.

2. adjustment shortcuts

Press Q to pull up the Spot Removal tool. Pressing M will bring up the Graduated Filter. Pressing K will bring up the Adjustment Brush. Pressing will show your clippings, highlights or shadows. Pressing [ or ] will change the brush size (I sometimes find it annoying that Photoshop doesn’t have this shortcut!).

3. edit in photoshop

Sometimes you have to take your image into Photoshop to ‘clean’ it up a bit. Lightroom, sadly, does not have the best cloning tool. If you press Ctrl + E it will pull your image into Photoshop for you to edit it there.

4. create a new preset

The shortcut to create a new preset is Shift + Ctrl + N. If you aren’t making your own presets to help cut down on editing time, I highly recommend it!

 

What are some things you struggle with and would like to know about Lightroom? Comment below! Also comment what your favorite shortcut is.

Lightroom Free Shortcuts Printable

Along with this fancy little guide, I’ve created a FREE Shortcut Printable for you to print and hang near your computer. After you start using and implementing these shortcuts into your workflow, you’ll start remembering them instantly.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest
Learning how to compose your images is a great next step in improving your photography. There are so many ways to improve your photography. I recommend learning manual exposure first, if you haven’t already. Learning manual exposure drastically improved my photography. After you learn manual exposure, the next step is learning how to compose your images better. Learning composition is fun – trust me! It will help take your images from snapshots to work of art. I’m going to go through all the composition ‘rules’ (they are more of guidelines to experiment with) that will help take your photography to the next level.

check out my 5 Easy Steps to Getting a Blurry Background post for ideas to get you started

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

1. rule of thirds

Let’s start with the easiest one!
You are more than likely already implementing this rule in a lot of your photos. Divide your photo into nine even sections. Two horizontal lines & two vertical lines – this is known as the rule of thirds. At the intersections of these lines is where you would place your subject. This placement is so natural. It’s a beautiful (and easy) way to compose your images. By following this rule it gives your image more balance and is more appealing. I love using this composition rule. It is one of the easiest ones. I am naturally drawn to composing a shot in the rule of thirds, I really have to pay attention and focus if I want a different composition. Remember, these are just rules that don’t have to be followed 100%.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

2. leading lines

The next way to compose your images & add impact is utilizing leading lines. Leading lines refer to any lines in your images that lead your viewer straight to your subject. This is a great composition rule that will add impact to your portfolio. Once you start seeing the lines, they’ll come naturally and you won’t even realize you are implementing them. In the image above, the lines from the counter tops lead straight to the little girl. Leading lines are great ways to add impact to your images. If you use them correctly, they will lead your viewer straight to your subject. But be warned: if you use them incorrectly, they can cause the viewer to wander all around the frame. Make sure you have your leading lines leading where you want them to, and not out of the frame, for example.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

3. fill the frame

One of my favorite ways to compose an image is to fill the frame. You fill your picture up with your subject. This composition is perfect for when you want to focus on the details or get rid of distractions in the background. I think this composition rule is beautiful because it helps you to focus on your subject. I love filling the frame with people’s faces. Get nice and close and fill the frame with your subject’s beautiful face! It helps your viewer to know exactly what the subject is – because your subject is the ONLY thing in your frame! This composition rule can really help simplify your image.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

4. color

I think color is the one compositional tool that people often overlook. You can use color to compose your image by adding a pop of color. Look at a color wheel and use colors that are across from each other. Converting an image to black & white can also be a compostional tool.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

5. texture

Adding texture to your image can add interest. The viewer goes straight to the texture. It helps bring a photo to life and creates a 3D look. This is perfect for portraits, wedding rings, flowers, even people can have texture.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

6. center composition

A center composition can add symmetry to a photo. Usually beginner photographers use a center composition for everything. When using a center composition, I want you to really think about how and why it would add interest to your photo. Look for symmetry.
10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

7. framing

I love framing. Framing is a great way to make an image look more appealing. There are many natural frames in nature. You can use windows, doors, trees, anything that creates a frame within the frame.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

8. negative space

Negative space is a great way to compose your images to simplify them. It will draw your viewer straight to the subject. I love using negative space to also get rid of distractions. You can also use negative space to fill the photo with sky – that is always appealing, in my opinion!

Comps (4)

9. reflections

I love the way reflections look in an image. This technique is especially beautiful in landscape photography. But everyday reflections can add so much depth and symmetry as well. Images with reflections in them always cause me to stop and stare a little longer.

10 Different Ways to Compose Your Photos & Add Interest

10. depth

Adding depth to your image is fun. Basically, when you having things in the foreground (front) of your image, it helps give your image depth – or make it look more life like. It can really help to bring your images to life when you add depth. Try ‘shooting’ through objects to create foreground blur.

I hope these 10 composition rules have inspired you to get out and practice! But remember – these rules are just ‘rules’ or guidelines, that once you know how to use them, they are OK to break and experiment with. Don’t ever feel like your image is good enough if it doesn’t have one of these rules in them. Remember to practice all of these compositional rules – practice is what will really take your images from snapshots to amazing works of art.

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers
When you first start out in the photography business, blogging might be way in the back of your mind. I can tell you that for the longest time I tried to stay away from blogging. I honestly thought I would hate it! I thought that it was a waste of time, why blog? When you start your photography business, there’s so many things you have to focus on, so sometimes it’s easier to just forget about the blogging side of the business. But I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t. Blogging is extremely important to any business. Keep reading for 7 steps to successful blogging.

check out my 100 Photography Blog Post Ideas post for ideas to get you started

7 Steps to Successful Blogging for Photographers with FREE blog planner

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you in advance for supporting Aly Dawn Photography!

my blogging journey

I started my photography blog in hopes to get more clients for my photography business. I wasn’t ready to start a photography business. I didn’t have a portfolio. I really wasn’t very good at photography, either! But I had high hopes. My blog has taken a different approach since that initial start. I now know my why to blogging. I think it is important for you to figure out your why. Why do you want to blog?

With blogging you’re able to write down your thoughts, ideas, and insights in how you work. You’re able to show what you do, why you do it, and how your audience can achieve the same effect. For a photography blog, this is extremely important. I know I’ve gone to countless photography websites where I wish I could get some insight into how they achieved that image! If I had just an inkling of an idea, I would be able to experiment and explore my own style of photography easier.

Allow me to give you 4 good reasons why it is important in our field of work:

  • It helps optimize your SEO – it helps search engines find you, and who doesn’t want to be found?
  • You can grow your email list and get more customers that way.
  • It gives your talent and business credibility.
  • It helps you compete with the competitors – yes, they’re blogging and so should you!

my 7 steps to successful blogging for photographers

1. consistency is key

I believe this is something I have struggles with. I think it’s important to explore different things and to figure out what works for you. But once you figure out what works for you, keep it consistent. Keep your work consistent, too. When writing your post, keep the format the same. In all of my posts I have an introduction, I write words about the post, then I dive right in to my points (if it’s a list post, like this post is), I always have at least one image. This helps my readers to know what to expect. They can look at my format and automatically know that it’s my site and not anyone else’s site. Consistency will help you get more readers to come to your blog over and over again. This will help you be successful in your blogging.

2. know your target audience

If you have a photography blog, but are blogging about how being a mom is hard…that doesn’t really fit into your target audience. Same goes for if you have a photography business and the reason for blogging is to get more clients. You don’t want to blog about how you saved money that month. That will get a different set of eyes than what you are after. Instead, you want to blog about all of your client sessions. Showing potential clients what a session is like with you. For me, my target audience are beginner bloggers & photographers who want to learn more and increase their knowledge.

3. come up with a schedule

Figure out what will work for you in the beginning. Make a schedule. How often will you blog? This goes along with being consistent. Will you post twice a month? Twice a week? Write down how often you will blog and try to keep at it. By being consistent with your schedule, your audience will know how often you update your blog. It’s no fun going to one of your favorite blogs and finding out they haven’t had any new material in over a year. Keep your audience excited to come back to your blog by posting regularly.

4. share your posts

Social media is growing! If you are not on all the popular social media sites, get on them now. My favorites are Pinterest & Instagram! Work on building your audience on there, and eventually it will pay off by linking your blog posts to those. Share your blog posts on any of the other platforms, too, like Facebook, Google +, & Twitter.
Google + is an excellent one to have because it is directly related to Google, and who doesn’t want their blog posts to reach more people on Google, right? The more you post, the more successful you are.

5. be yourself

When I first started blogging, I tried to be like all the other bloggers I saw out there. They ALL had beautiful and bright photos. And when I tried to do that for myself, I found myself hating my posts. I hated the images that went along with that post, too! When I switched back to being myself, I became more successful. I was able to blog about the things I loved and I was able to share the images that really spoke to me.
I think we sometimes forget how important it is to be ourselves. Part of being interesting is being unique.

6. readability

Have you ever stumbled on a blog that had so many errors it hurt to read? Obviously, bloggers aren’t perfect. But, if you are blogging, PLEASE make sure you try your best at proper grammar! That will help get readers to come back again. Readability on your blog is so important, I highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin on your site. I am actually using it right now! It helps you with how readable your post is and how to make it better for SEO purposes. This plugin is essential and will help you become a more successful blogger in no time.

 

7. make a planner & stick to it

Once I started planning out my posts using my planner, I was able to stay consistent and was therefore more successful. Luckily for you I have created a planner, free of charge! This planner includes a post page and a weekly planner. Print as many as you want out and put them in a binder. Fill them out and get organized. Staying organized will help you take charge of your blog and be a successful blogger in no time.