Top Things I Learned as a Photography Newbie

It seems photography should be easy, buy a camera and take photos, Except it’s not just a camera you need, there are other accessories and things you need to know as a photography newbie.

Walk into a good camera shop and there are walls covered in bags, cabinets full of lenses, banks of accessories, and tripods arranged in an artistic installation on the floor somewhere. It can be hard to know what extra things you really need versus what the salesperson tells you to buy. The internet offers lots of options for research in advance, but sometimes you just have to find things out the hard way.

Plus the salesperson can’t help you once you walk out the door, get your camera home, and you try to make sense of the camera’s user manual for the first time. Suddenly you are on your own with so much possibility and opportunity in front of you, but not really sure how to tackle it.

Gear related things

  1. Buy at least one spare battery and memory card, two if you can afford it. Remember to keep those spares charged!
  2. Check your camera gear and settings before you leave the house – preferably the day before (so you can charge batteries). Realising you left your memory card plugged into your computer, and your battery on the charger an hour into your trip is less than ideal.
  3. The perfect camera bag is like the Holy Grail. You will go through several bags trying to find the best compromise for your requirements.
  4. New gear doesn’t make you a better photographer. Many people are under the impression that buying a fancy expensive DSLR body somehow guarantees their images will be amazing. A new lens might enable you to shoot subjects in a better way (e.g. a macro lens lets you get close to small things, a long zoom makes it easier to photograph birds or animals) but these things are a tool that you, the photographer, has to make work.

Gear isn’t just about cameras and lenses

Get a headlamp or torch, preferably one on a swivel mount so you can point it at the ground while walking in the dark. This is vital for not slipping and breaking an ankle on rocks or broken ground, and finding things in your bag.

Invest in good footwear. Take a hat, sunscreen, water and insect repellent. Also, carry an extra layer of clothing just in case.

Have proper cold weather gear. Nothing is worse than being outside with cold wet feet and numb fingers. If you live in areas that get properly cold, have good footwear suitable for the kind you will be out in. Clothing technology has advanced a lot in recent years, there are many options for the base, middle and shell layers, gloves, hats, and socks that are thin, light and easy to wear. Good quality gear can be expensive, but it usually lasts and is worth the investment.

Get proper camera insurance. Camera gear is expensive and is often a target for thieves (don’t leave it in your car overnight). It happen, a sudden large ocean wave can wipe you and your tripod out without warning. Tripod heads can fail and cause your camera and lens fall five feet straight onto a concrete floor. All sorts of mishaps can happen, so protect your investment with insurance, it is a lot cheaper than having to replace the gear yourself.