Tips for Beginner Photographers

  1. Learn the basics

So I totally get it, there is a ton of information about photography out there. It can be pretty overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s the most important thing to learn first? What are all of these buttons for? How does that photographer do that blurry thing in the background? I totally get it!

The first thing I would do is to learn how to get your camera out of automatic. If you really want to be a great photographer, you need to learn how to shoot in manual mode to manipulate your camera to do what you need it to in order to really create. Then I would learn some basic composition techniques and study light.

The best place to start is with an online course (or a local in person one). Yes, there is also a ton of free information online and I would look into that as well, but without an organized, well laid out class showing you where to start and what to do next, it will take you a long time to piece together the pieces. Trust me, I know. I took that route.

If you are looking for a great online class, you can search on Clickin Moms, or Creative Live for one. That’s where I’ve had the great success in the past. Or you could always take one from me! Woohoo! I’ve always found that I learned best from a photographer that I could relate to, one who’s style I loved and one who inspired me. And because of that, I’ve created a beginner class just for know, in case I’m that photographer for you. This is class from someone who’s been in your shoes, someone who’s gone through the “self taught” process themselves and someone who knows what you need to learn now in order to get to where you want to be.

Whichever you choose, mastering manual exposure is definitely a must in your first step in your photography journey.

Need a class to help you master photography? Momtogs in Training is sure to get you there in a fun, interactive way and it’s all online!


Starting out, many photographers think that buying expensive equipment will make them good, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I began my career using my entry level Nikon d3500. I upgraded my lens to a very affordable prime lens, 50mm 1.8 ($200 or so), and practiced practiced practiced. I mastered my camera and my craft first and moved on to taking family portraits for a good solid year before upgrading…and my photos were great. I mean they weren’t award winning, but they weren’t bad either. I was booking clients left and right. Here are some photos I took with my entry level and 50mm.

Not bad, right? So, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to burn a hole in your pocket to get amazing photos or to even attract clients. Practice. Master exposure and reading your meter. Do your research. Figure out what type of photography you want to be shooting and which lenses work for best for that. And again, practice. The more photos you take, the more you’ll know about what kind of equipments to get when it’s time to upgrade.



When you least expect it, photo opportunities will present themselves to you, especially with little kids. They always seem to do the funniest things when out in public…am I right? If you can keep your equipment relatively simple – just a small camera bag, or even your purse – you might be able to take advantage of some of those spur of the moment opportunities. There are two of my favorite photos of my Max out in public. These are moments I could have never expected and I’m so glad I had my camera with me.



Have you been on Instagram lately? Holy cow, there is a plethora of photo inspiration out there and I seriously can’t get over how many talented photographers there are. It is so inspiring! There is so much to learn from them and it gets me excited about photography every single time I browse through my feed. One of the great things about photography is that it is ever changing and there is always something new to learn, and boy can you learn about some new techniques out there. So have fun. Learn some new stuff.


5. Do a 365 PROJECT

A what? You may be asking. A 365 Project is a photography project where you take one photo each day for a year. It might sound pretty unrealistic at first, but if you take it one day at a time, it isn’t as crazy as it seems. It’s actually pretty fun and at the end of the year, you have this awesome display of your entire life for that year laid out.

Taking photos every day will improve your photography skills, there's no doubt about it, using your camera so much will teach you about lighting, composition and creativity. Forcing yourself to come up with new ideas and making you look at life a little bit differently. It’s definitely my favorite tip of them all.

And if a 365 is to much to handle at first, a 52 week photo challenge is great as well. That’s where you take one photo per week. You can get great practice with this as well.


6. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

There are all kinds of fun ways to experiment with photography. I have always wanted to try that ring of fire technique, but I still do not have one of those copper pipe pieces to try it with. So one day, as the sun was setting and the sun was shining bright into my camera, I just took one of my gold hoop earrings and placed it in front of my camera lens. The result was pretty cool.


If you’re using a digital camera, the cost of errors is free. So, try some things out. You just might end up with something you really like. And I can tell you this, you’ll certainly learn a lot throughout the process.



A great way to make sure you have a photo that is boring, is to take it from your eye level. This is a view point we are all familiar with. There is nothing new and exciting about it at all.

However, if you switch it up and try to take photos from your subjects point of view, or above or below them, this is when things start to get interesting.

You’ll be surprised by how different your shots feel with these changes. Here is an example of my daughter playing in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. In one photo, I’m standing at my eye level to take the shot. In the other photo, I squat down to her level and capture her activity from her vantage point. The two photos are remarkably different.

The first photo is what we normally see just walking around everyday. Nothing too interesting there, right? However, the second photo isn’t a point of view that we are used to, so it’s more compelling.

Try it out for yourself. You’ll be amazed at the difference in your photos.




Not all post processing has to look like you’ve done some crazy work to your photo. There are ways to edit a photo and have it look as natural and as untouched as possible. But from my experience, the only way to really bring to life you’re creative vision for your work, is to do a little post processing.

If you aren’t that skill with editing a photo, there are some great resources out there that can help teach you how to work some magic. You can learn some simple techniques or you can go all out and really do some big time photo manipulation. I recommend starting out pretty basic. Learn the general adjustments to enhance your photo. Maybe invest in some presets or filters, but I would note…presets/filters are not going to turn a bad photo into a fabulous one. Your photo must be taken correctly in camera first in order for your preset/filter to really shine.


Tia Costello