Photography for Beginners: 3 Types and How to Get Started

Photography is a great way to express yourself creatively and to interact with others, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. I’m the top three types of photography for beginners and tips for getting started on each of them.

Street, landscape, and portrait photography are great for beginners because they are easy to access and easy to do. These can be done with a DSLR camera or your smartphone.

Let’s dive into these three photography types, what they are, and how to get started shooting! Stick around to the end for some crucial tips to make sure your shoots go smoothly…

What Factors Were Considered

Three main categories were considered in deciding the best types of photography for beginners: cost, gear, and learning curve.

When it comes to cost, I made sure that each type of photography I recommend can be done without paying for anything extra like studio time, admissions fees, etc. Assuming you already have a smartphone or other camera, you can get started for free.

Gear such as flashes, filters, and lenses are great tools, but they can be costly and intimidating. That’s why I made sure that my recommendations do not require extra gear beyond your smartphone or camera.

The final and possibly most crucial criterion is the learning curve. I want you to be out and shooting as soon as possible without having to research and plan for hours before taking your first photo. These photography types can be “point-and-shoot,” meaning you don’t need to study composition or colour theory to get started; you can simply point your camera and shoot.

Street Photography

At its core, street photography is an unstructured shoot where you capture anything and everything. I know that that seems very broad and ambiguous, but that’s the beauty of it. All you need to do is go into your city or town and start capturing photos. You can take pictures of people, animals, cars, anything.

When capturing your photos, consider your photo’s purpose; are you shooting it because it’s convenient or because it has meaning? Down the line, when your church is looking for a photo for social media, a newsletter, or maybe even a sermon, you’ll have a list of candidates in your head because you have already considered the meaning behind your photos.

Street photography is an excellent opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Though it can be intimidating, many people are happy to have their photos taken. Don’t be shy when shooting, but remember to be respectful of others and get their consent if you plan on posting their picture.

Looking to learn more about photography gear? Check out my article explaining SD card storage and speed classes.

Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is simply capturing nature. These can include photos of mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, or deserts.

Landscapes are best taken at sunrise and sunset; this time of day when the sun’s light is perfect for photos is often called “Golden Hour.” For this reason, taking landscapes is a great opportunity to clear your head and sit in God’s presence as you are often out shooting in the morning when people are sleeping or in the evening when people are going to bed (depending on the season and what time the sun sets).

Use a tripod or something to prop up your camera (it can be as simple as a rock or a fallen log). This will steady your smartphone or camera and make sure your photos aren’t blurry.

One thing to note is that landscape photography can be more challenging based on location. Driving or transiting to a landscape location may take a whole day if you live in a busy city surrounded by skyscrapers. If you don’t have the opportunity to take landscapes regularly, I recommend you keep it on the back burner if you take a vacation or visit family in a more suitable location.

Portrait Photography

In its simplest form, Portrait photography involves taking a photo of a person, group, or animal. Since they can both involve people, you may ask, “What’s the difference between portrait and street photography?” Portrait photography is often staged shots with a subject, while street photography is candid (not staged).

With portrait photography, it’s important to consider the context behind your photo and how it will be used. Where is your subject? What emotion are they conveying? What are they wearing? You don’t want your church to send a baptism announcement with a photo of someone looking super sad; you want them to be overjoyed! Your picture should reflect the underlying message you are trying to send.

Start with a trusted friend or family member and a well-known location (it can even be your backyard or living room). Portrait photography is a good chance to spend time with friends or get to know someone more. At the end of the shoot, you’ll have great photos for your church’s social media or staff photos.

Pro Tip: Posing can feel awkward at first and is often dreaded by the subject of portrait sessions. I recommend going on Pinterest and creating a board with some poses you think might be interesting. This will save you time adjusting your shots and give you more variety later. As for your subject, they will now have a visual reference of what you want and less anxiety about coming up with poses.

Tips to Get Started on Photography

Be sure you have a camera to take photos. If you have a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, great! If not, don’t sweat it; your phone will do just fine.

Want to learn more about photography? Check out my article explaining the exposure triangle and why it’s important, it even has a free cheat sheet download!

Practice, practice, practice! That is the most important advice I can give. Take lots of photos and take them often. Though studying the technical aspects of photography is good, you will learn the most through trial and error.

Create a shot list. If you are shooting for your church, figure out what you need photos for and plan accordingly. Is your church hosting an event at a local park? Add that location to your shot list. Is someone at your church starting a new small group? Add their portrait to your shot list. This ensures any photos you need get prioritized and don’t get forgotten.

Shoot both landscape and portrait orientation. When using a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, it can be easy to only shoot in landscape orientation as it feels most natural when holding your camera. With smartphones, it’s the opposite; it feels natural to take photos in portrait orientation because that’s how you hold your phone in daily life. There are uses for both, so be sure to take shots in both orientations.

Back up your photos! I recommend having your photos stored in a minimum of two different places. Immediately after a shoot, you should back up your photos to a computer or a cloud storage service (Google Drive or Dropbox are great free options).

For all of you DSLR/Mirrorless photographers, I cannot stress the importance of backing up your SD cards enough; you should never go into a shoot with photos from your previous shoot still on your SD card. If your SD card fills up or corrupts, your shoot is ruined, and your photos are potentially lost, avoid these issues by backing everything up beforehand.

Now that you’ve learned about three great types of photography for beginners and how to get started, get out there, start shooting, and have fun!

Jeremy Goh

Jeremy grew up volunteering at church and has also worked in a church setting. Along with working as a freelance creative, Jeremy is studying for a business degree in finance and international business.

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