Have you ever tried something and were so bad at it that you shocked and repulsed yourself, and just wanted to like, never do it again?
As I wrote about in my article 7 Tools That Will Massively Improve your Photography, that’s how I was with taking pictures two years ago.
I couldn’t take a picture that you would want to look at to save my life. I didn’t even understand basic things like the rule of thirds.
But I had a passion for cooking, and sharing my food, so I knew that I couldn’t “never do it again”. I had to learn! So I started the process of – what felt like – swimming through mud trying to understand positioning, and trying to figure out why my photographer-sister was always telling me my photos were too dark.
And now they look more like this:
I may never be great, but at least now I get it. I finally get why people were telling me to dump my kit lens, and why backlighting can be tricky.
I’m swimming through clear water now, instead of mud – I may be swimming upstream, but at least it’s water, ya know? And here are the main tools that have helped me get there (if you want to see the educational resources I used, just click here).
4 Affordable Tools For The Beginning Photographer
The Snackable Photography Course (Snack-Sized lessons for busy parents). This course is absolutely FREE, and helped me so much with learning how to find the best lighting, and how to position my kids for good photos. Even though my main focus is food photography, as a parent I also love taking pictures of my kids, and really, the principals of good photography apply across all types of subjects.
Canon Rebel Camera Body. Even though I had had the Canon d-70 recommended to me by professional photographers as an entry level camera, I quickly found out that we had very different ideas of what was affordable, and also what was entry level.
The thing is, for most of us, an entry level camera body is not going to be what holds our photo quality back. Entry level cameras these days are very good! I bought a Rebel T2i with a lens and carrying bag for $300 on eBay. (That was two years ago, and you can get them for a lot less than that now.)
HOWEVER, I recommend getting a body only, so that you don’t end up holding yourself back with an inferior lens like I did for so long.
The T2i is an older model that isn’t even made anymore, whereas the T5i is newer and fancier – but it’s also more expensive. Which camera you get completely depends upon how much money you’re interested in investing.
A Quality Camera Lens. For about a year after buying my camera kit, I used the kit lens, and wrinkled up my nose a little bit every time a photographer told me I needed to upgrade lenses to take better pictures.
What was wrong with my pictures the way they were thankyouverymuch? But at the beginning of this year, I finally bit the bullet and spent $100 on a Canon 50mm prime lens, and it was worth. every. penny.
See, what I didn’t realize at the time is that having a fixed lens would give me 100% crisper images with no blur no matter how big you blow them up. Now, I can’t even shoot with my kit lens – I tried when I took it with me to Argentina.
A Simple Editing Tool. Editing is not something I’m good at. That’s said, most of my photos do get some sort of editing, even if it’s just a boost in exposure. While I have Adobe Lightroom, I haven’t really figured out how to use either it or Photoshop efficiently, so I find myself going back to PicMonkey every single day.
PicMonkey is a simple web-based tool – meaning that you upload a photo to it, rather than download the software to your computer – that is self explanatory enough for even beginners to take advantage of. You can use it to color-correct your photos, resize, or add frames or text overlays.
And the best part? It’s free. There is a premium version that you can use for a yearly fee of $33, which is still super cheap, but I personally used it for two years without paying a dime.