I am new to photography and would like some help on how to learn the basics I've searched through the Internet but just keep coming up with lots of different courses ranging from free to paid but they all seem to offer the same or very similar options I'm now none of the wiser and very confused on with way to go could someone please help and point me in the right direction I have a limited budget so need to try and learn the basics for as little as possible

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    \$\begingroup\$ You will get answers targeted to your needs if you tell us what your goals are. Are you willing to work hard to become a really good photographer? Few people have this desire, most are happy snapping pictures of their family, and whatever they find interesting. You don't need to know a lot to do this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mattman944
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you do not have money but you have some time then you could intern with pro photographer. Search for them in you area and send them an email stating your goals and availability. Nothing ventured nothing gained. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 18:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ What aspects of photography interest you? Portraits? Animals? Landscape? Surreal? Do you have any equipment already and, if so, whatcha got? \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 20:45

3 Answers 3


There are some very good online resources, but the free ones tend to be aimed at someone who is just beyond the basics. For a systematic beginning approach, I think a couple of basic books are much better at being structured and covering all of the beginning basics.

Peterson's Understanding Exposure is probably the most recommended photography book anywhere. It covers all of the basics and then some regarding exposure. The latest edition is less than $20 and the second edition can be bought on amazon.com for just over $10 including shipping. Well worth the investment.

Freeman's The Photographer's Eye covers composition as well as anyone. It is also available very reasonably from amazon.com.

These two along with other good books are mentioned in What are the first few photography books someone should read?

The best online resources, both free and paid are covered in What are the best online photo classes?


The Five Key Steps to improving your photography:

Step 1: Confirm you understand the "Exposure Triangle", and how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO all interact to produce a given image.

This follows on into understanding motion blur [long shutter times], and depth of field [Smaller (bigger number) apertures allowing more of the scene to be in focus].

Step 2: Using the knowledge from step 1, go out and take more photos. Experiment with what you've learned, and push your boundaries.

Step 3: Review your photos! Take the time to carefully go through the photos and think about what worked as you expected, what didn't, and ways you could improve on them.

I find software like Lightroom to be handy here as it allows me to quickly go through to cull obvious failures and highlight images I like. However it is still important to take some time to critically think about why you like the images you pick to highlight, and what is wrong with the images you flag as bad.

Bringing a mix of both to discussions with other people for additional feedback may be helpful.

Step 4: Take what you've learned about your photography so far, and build on your current ideas or go seek new ones to answer specific questions you have. [This is a good step to read up on things like art history and composition.]

Step 5: Go to Step 2.

Note the big thing which isn't called out as steps:

  • Buying new gear: If you can't clearly define what the new gear is going to do for you, and why it is doing it, then you're probably not benefiting enough from spending the money.
  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like this needs a circular graphic. It's awesome. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 18:08

If you do not own any equipment I would look into buying a used dslr. If you can find a canon 600d with the 18-55 and 55-250 kit lenses you have a great start, any other similar kit would do as well.

Spend some time inside figuring out the settings.

Then go out and take pictures. My sugestion is go out with the intention to take 24 pictures so make them count. After you get back look at the pictures and think about what you like and dislike about each of them. Repeat this untill you feel you get it.

While you are doing that you can of cource also look for tips. I would search youtube for videos on composition, I personaly like The Art of Photography chanel


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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually think that "making them count" may be a bit counterproductive. With digital era, there are more possibilities including taking a lot of pictures in a short amount of time. For example, taking the same picture with different exposure settings may be illuminating. But then if you use e.g. 6 exposure settings, you have already used 25% of your "budget". \$\endgroup\$
    – juhist
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @juhist There is a time for that as well, the idea about making them count is to get started thinking about composition \$\endgroup\$
    – lijat
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ In general, the technical ability to expose and focus reasonably well must precede learning about composition. It doesn't matter how well one composed a frame if the resulting image is solid white or sold black due to poor exposure or totally blurry due to improper focus. That's why structured photography courses almost always begin with exposure, move on to focusing, and then head into composition. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 9:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Michael C that is true, my intent with the experiment indoors step was to figure out enough about the camera to get it into some mode where autofocus and autoexposure will do a good job. \$\endgroup\$
    – lijat
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 23:03

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