02 October 2023
Whether you’ve already picked up a camera, or are considering trying your hand at a new hobby, understanding the basics of composition is a game changer when you’re first starting out. By following these simple tips for beginners, you’ll be able to start capturing the world around you in no time.
If you’ve got a keen interest in photography, but don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a camera, we would recommend investing in our perfect all-rounder — the FUJIFILM X-S20. Complete with a user-friendly control screen, in-body stabilisation (IBIS), and fewer external controls compared to other cameras in our X Series. It’s also easy to shoot, and offers a great balance of features, making it the perfect hybrid for video and still photos.
Already have a camera sorted? No problem, these photography tips for beginners will be perfect for any device that you may have and can be applied universally throughout your photography journey.
Composition is crucial in photography as it determines how elements are arranged within the frame, and dictates whether your image will be visually appealing or impactful. It influences the viewer's perception, guiding their attention to the subject, creating balance, leading lines, and establishing a mood or story within the photograph. But what exactly makes a good composition, and how do you achieve it?
Imagine dividing your frame into a 3x3 grid and placing your main subject or points of interest along the intersecting lines, this adds interest, depth, and guides the viewer's eye to the main subject.
To do this, it can be useful to turn the grid lines on in your camera settings, this will enable you to visualise the rule of thirds properly. Once you have your grid lines switched on, you can position your subject along one of the grid lines or at the intersections of the lines.
Similarly, a horizon shot should be level with one of the grid lines, and if you have a lot going on in your image, consider keeping the ‘busier’ aspects of your shot within one of the thirds to help ensure a visually harmonious shot.
Whilst it may seem a little odd, when you strategically position lines such as roads, fences, or architectural elements to lead towards the main subject or key points of interest in your shot, it enhances the visual flow of the image. Like the rule of thirds, for a beginner the use of leading lines can really give you a sense of direction with your shot too.
Humans love symmetry, and by default, we tend to seek it out. Patterns and symmetry are visually appealing, which is why it’s a great idea to look for sequences within nature, city scenes, or even people to make your photo look as balanced as possible.
They can be visually captivating, drawing the viewer's attention and creating a pleasing aesthetic. Symmetry and patterns also provide a sense of structure and can help convey a sense of calmness or organisation in an image.
Foreground interest is important in composition as it adds depth, dimension, and a sense of scale to the photograph. By including compelling elements in the foreground, such as leading lines, objects, textures, or people, it provides a point of entry for the viewer's eye and creates a more engaging and immersive experience. This can help make the overall composition more captivating and visually dynamic.
Getting familiar with your camera's settings is crucial for capturing the perfect shot. While each camera model may differ slightly, the following settings are commonly found in most cameras. Which means you can pretty much apply these following beginner photography tips across the board, whatever device you have to hand.
The term aperture simply means how much light is reaching your camera sensor, and you can shrink or expand it to let more or less light into your shot. Adjusting the aperture also controls the depth of field, and can be used purely for exposure or to determine how much of your image is in focus.
There are several uses for aperture. A wide aperture (low f-number) creates a shallow depth of field, blurring the background, while a narrow aperture (high f-number) increases the depth of field, keeping more elements in focus. Experiment with this feature to play around with the light in your shot, and see how your photo turns out set to both a low and high f-number.
Shutter speed is crucial in basic camera settings because it determines the duration for which the camera's shutter remains open, affecting the amount of light that enters the camera and the motion blur in a photo. Adjusting the shutter speed allows photographers to capture sharp, frozen moments or create artistic effects by intentionally blurring or emphasising motion. It’s a great setting to get to grips with when you’re just starting out.
In manual mode or shutter priority mode (usually marked as "S" or "Tv"), you can directly set the desired shutter speed by rotating a dial or using arrow buttons. Some cameras also offer a dedicated shutter speed dial.
ISO is an essential element in photography as it determines the camera's sensitivity to light. Lower ISO values (e.g., 100-400) are ideal for well-lit conditions, while higher ISO values (e.g., 800-3200) help in low-light situations.
By adjusting the ISO setting, photographers can control the camera's ability to capture images in low-light conditions or achieve faster shutter speeds, but higher ISO settings can introduce digital noise or graininess to the image.
Lighting is a fundamental aspect of photography that can make or break a shot. Here are some tips to help light work for you when you’re just starting out on your photography journey.
The golden hour refers to the hour after sunrise or before sunset when the natural light is soft, warm, and diffused. Take advantage of this magical time of day for stunning landscape and portrait photography.
During midday when the sun is directly overhead, the light can cast unflattering shadows. Seek shade or use a diffuser to soften the light and reduce harsh shadows.
Don't limit yourself to natural light. Explore the possibilities of artificial lighting, such as using a flash or experimenting with different light sources to create unique effects.
Now you know the basics, why not set yourself a challenge to help hone your skills? A good place to start is to try capturing the same subject every day for a week — each time, find a new way to tell the story through different compositions. For instance, you could focus on the foreground for one image, experiment with your flash for another, and explore different shutter speeds for a third.
We’d love to see what you come up with, so feel free to share your images with us and tag us on Instagram.
Wherever you are on your photography journey, we can help you fine tune your skills, or simply just try something new here at FUJIFILM School.