Photography doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. While you can spend hundreds of dollars on gear and courses, this won’t necessarily make you become a better photographer. Below are just a few tips for getting into photography on a tight budget.
Use your smartphone
Can’t afford to buy a DSLR right now? Use your smartphone. Modern smartphones are able to compete with the photo quality of most top-end cameras. While you may not be able to accessorize them, smartphones nowadays often have multiple built-in lenses and there are tricks that you can use to mimic long exposure photography. They’re also a lot more portable than a conventional camera.
Of course, smartphones do have their weaknesses compared to DSLRs. Low lighting photography is never going to be as good with a smartphone and you may struggle to take quite as dramatic zoom shots. Turning up to a professional photoshoot with an iPhone may also not go down well as they are not perceived to be as professional. However, as an amateur photographer, a smartphone is really all you need when it comes to learning how to frame your shots.
Buy a used camera/used accessories
If you’re eager to buy a ‘real camera’, then there are still solutions when shopping on a budget. An obvious piece of advice – but one that is worth emphasizing – is that you should never buy brand new gear if you’re just starting. There are used cameras and used lenses out there on the market that are in practically brand new condition being sold for a fraction of the price.
You may be able to find used cameras and accessories for sale on sites like Craigslist, Facebook and Gumtree. You do have to be wary of the condition when buying from such places – for this reason, you should always inspect gear before you buy it (and possibly ask to try it out to test the photo quality).
Hire and borrow gear
When it comes to experimenting with photography, it can sometimes be worth hiring and borrowing lenses and attachments. There are online lens rental sites where you can do this. Alternatively, you may know a friend who is into photography and who has a lot of gear – you could try asking to borrow it. Hiring and borrowing gear can prevent you from wasting money on novelty lenses and accessories that you may never use that often – it’s a chance to play around with attachments without feeling committed to using them.
Learn to work with minimal gear
You don’t need 50 different lights and lenses to be a pro. In fact, there are advantages to working with minimal gear. It’s less to lug around with you and it can challenge you to get creative. For instance, not having lots of lights could encourage you to learn how to shoot with natural light – or you may be able to find other things to use as camera lights such as torches and lamps.
Take advantage of free photography advice
A photography course could help you to build your skills. But if you don’t have the money to take a course, there are other places to learn the ropes – and in some cases you won’t have to spend anything.
Photography blogs have lots of free posts dedicated to various photography tricks. You may also be able to learn things like photo editing from blogs.
There are also plenty of YouTube channels and videos dedicated to photography tips. Check out these videos to help you learn skills such as how to use lighting or how to frame shots.
Self-teach yourself tricks
A lot of photography skills can be developed simply by getting out there and taking pictures of different things. If you’re just starting out, it’s worth trying to take pictures of different objects such as animals, people, buildings, landscapes and small still objects. Experiment with indoor and outdoor lighting. When it comes to outdoor lighting, try taking pictures at different times of the day so that you can see the difference it makes. When experimenting with outdoor photography, it could also be worth taking pictures in different weathers such as rain, wind and fog.
Eventually you will find your niche. You can then start honing your skills in this particular area. Even if you’re pretty sure that you already want to focus on a particular area of photography, it’s still worth taking the time to explore different styles just in case your photography strengths lie elsewhere.