Are you one of the many Instagrammers or new moms who has a DSLR and has no clue how to use it? If so, you are probably looking for some simple beginning photography on a budget tips. I’ve got a few tips to teach you how to get Instagram worthy photos with a DSLR without breaking the bank.
Elevate your Instagram with these beginning photography on a budget tips
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I learned these beginning photography tips through trial and error
I have to be honest, I feel a bit silly writing these photography on a budget tips. I’m not a professional photographer. I’m just a mom and a blogger with a DSLR who takes decent photos. Even though I’m no professional, my Instagram account is quickly becoming the most marketable thing about my social media presence and I routinely get paid to share my Instagram posts.
You are following me on Instagram, right? Follow me on Instagram here!
Related Post: How to Make Money in Social Media
For that reason, I’m excited to share how I improved my photography with these beginner photographer tips. I’m even more excited that these tips are budget friendly and can help you improve your photography without spending a ton of money. Follow these tips and you’re sure to get Instagram worthy photos with your DSLR too!
Five years ago I made the decision to put the money we wanted to spend on a newborn photographer and buy a DSLR instead. My closest friend at the time thought I was crazy. And she had a point! She kept encouraging me to hire a photographer because she was certain my photos wouldn’t turn out as good as a professional.
Guess what? She was right! The photos I took of my first son were awful. Don’t get me wrong, I love the photos because they were taken by me and they have my son in them. Seriously though, they look like crap.
Related Post: Why Professional Photographers are Worth the Money
Five years later and I’m still no pro, but my photos look way better. I’m not looking to become a professional photographer, but I now feel confident enough to take Instagram worthy photos of my family. Baby Max gets to reap the benefit of my improved photography skills.
Beginning Photography on a Budget: How to Get Instagram Worthy Photos with a DSLR
Ditch the Kit Lens
This is the first budget photography tip you should follow. The kit lens that comes with the camera can only do so much. Once you switch to a better lens, you will immediately see better results.
I know, I know, I told you this would be “beginning photography on a budget” and I’m already telling you to buy something. I promise you this is well worth it. You’ve already shelled out over $400 for a DSLR, go ahead and pay another $125 for a better lens. You will thank me!
This is the first photo I ever took with my 50 mm lens.
You can get lenses at great prices. If you aren’t a professional photographer, you won’t even notice a different between the pricy name brand lenses and the cheaper lenses.
I suggest buying a 50 mm lens a.k.a “the nifty fifty”.
The nifty fifty lens is the most inexpensive way to dramatically improve your photography. It has a shallow depth of field that softly blurs the background. This is achieved by the low f-stop. Learn more about the versatility of this lens here.
The Canon 50 mm lens is only $125. It’s the best lens to buy if you want to start taking photography a little more seriously.
After the 50 mm lens you will probably want more freedom. The 50 mm lens is fixed at 50 mm so you can’t zoom in or out.
The next step up from a 50 mm can get very expensive if you go with Canon or Nikon. Luckily for all of use photographers on a budget there are some great options out there that aren’t as widely known.
I did a lot of research on lenses and settled for a Tamron AF 28-75mm. It’s not cheap, at nearly $500, but it is half the price of the Canon one that is similar.
Buy the 28-75 mm here: Tamron on Amazon
Would I recommend this for a professional photographer? Probably not, but for a blogger and amateur photographer it works very well. Here is a sample:
Why both? I use the 50 mm for food photography and close ups. I use my Tamron for travel photography and everyday photos. I suggest starting with the 50mm and buying a Tamron or similar lens later.
Use Natural Light
Natural light will give you the best lighting and even backdrop for your photography. The great thing about natural light is that it is free! You don’t have to worry about buying lighting equipment because every house has natural light because every house has windows.
Once you learn how to capture natural light, you’re photography will vastly improve. So, how do you capture nature light?
Capture the filtered natural light of a window when it isn’t too bright. Every house is different, so you will have to play around with the natural light. Usually the natural light is best in the morning and early evening. For my house, I get the best light in the morning just a few hours after sunrise on the east side of the house. I also get some really great light on the west side of the house a few house before sunset.
Get Off of Manual
Turn your camera settings to one of the three most popular manual settings:
- Manual mode: In manual mode you control all three of the settings: ISO, aperture and shutter speed. This can be the most difficult to learn, but gives you the most control.
- Aperture priority: (A on Nikon, Av on Canon) this mode has you in control of two of the three exposure controls: ISO and aperture. The shutter speed will be selected for you in aperture mode.
- Shutter priority: (S on Nikon, Tv on Canon) this mode once again puts you in control of two of the three exposure settings: ISO and shutter speed. The camera will select the aperture for a correct exposure.
I’m a fan of using AV or TV to start playing around with the best light settings. Once you start playing around you will find what works best for you. Learn more about the basics here.
Quick Note: You’ll notice a lot of outbound links to Cole’s Classroom. I am not an affiliate and have no reason to send you to the website other than the fact that I have learned a lot from this website and would love for you to get the same great tips.
I prefer to overexpose my photos for Instagram. I love bright white photos. I also love to do this because if I overexpose I can darken them later when editing. It’s much easier to darken them than it is to lighten them. Lightening them causes them to be overly grainy. To overexpose, change your ISO settings. Here is a great post about how to change exposure.
Keep Your Camera Out for Easy Access
Take your camera out of your camera bag and put it on your kitchen counter. Pay attention to the light in your house and pick up your camera when you see the perfect light for a photo. Heck, even take pictures when you don’t have perfect lighting so you can see how your camera works in different situations.
Once you get an eye for the light, you will know the right time of day to take pictures in your own house. Play around with outdoor photography and figure out the times where the light is good for outdoors as well.
I can’t stress this enough. It goes hand in hand with getting your camera off of auto and keeping it out of your camera bag. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can play around and experiment all you want without wasting film. Anyone else remember the days of waiting until your film was ready? I remember getting my photos from Walmart and having to throw out half of them because I had no clue what I was doing with my SLR. Thank goodness for the DSLR!
Learn How to Edit
There are a ton of great free photo editors out there. Here are a few of my favorites:
If you have $10 to spend a month, I definitely encourage you to get Adobe Lightroom. It is simple to use and Adobe has a ton of great tutorials to help you figure out anything you need to accomplish.
With Lightroom you can purchase presets that will automatically do your editing for you. Once again, I use Cole’s Classroom for presets. Once you get really good you can even make your own presets!
Use the Right Props
You can find all sorts of props for photography on a budget if you know what to use.
If you look on Etsy and Amazon you will find all sorts of overpriced photography backdrops. However, if you are looking to up your food photography game on Instagram, you’ll love this post with some cheap prop suggestions including buying marble contact paper and putting it on foam board. Here is an example. Nope, it’s not real marble, and yes, it only cost me $10!
Buy the marble contact paper now: click here
Buy the Right Gear
Here is where budget photography gets tricky. Yes, you can survive off of an inexpensive lens, but you can’t survive off of a cheap tripod. If you want to take pictures of yourself, like this one below, you will need to invest in a good tripod.
Shop tripods here: tripods on Amazon
Trust me on this one. I have been through 3 cheap tripods. If I had bought a quality one from the get go, I would have saved a lot of money!
You want one that is sturdy and definitely more than $30. Don’t be tempted to buy a $16 tripod! Remember, your camera will be on this tripod. If it isn’t sturdy you could break your camera.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. About 90% of what I learned, I learned from asking professional photographers questions. A big shout out to Kristin Moore from Kristin Moore Photo for always answering my questions!
Message your favorite Instagrammer and ask how they achieved a certain photo that you like. Better get, go to an InstaMeet and learn from other IGers. Head to the Instagrammers website to see if your city is represented.
Pro Tip: The Instagrammer website isn’t always updated so it’s a good idea to search #IGer(YourCity) on Instagram to see if your city/ area has a group already. These groups meet often to discuss photographer and take Insta-worthy photos around town.
Keep Learning: Join Facebook Group and Get on Email Lists
You know how I said I learned 90% of my photography skills from asking questions? I learned the other 10% from Facebook groups and email lists. Once again, I’m going to tell you how much I love Cole’s Classroom. I’m on his email list and follow his page on Facebook. Seriously, I need to see if he has an affiliate program because I can’t say enough good things about him!
Want to learn even more?
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What will this investment in a meaningful skill cost you? To take better photos that preserve those special moments, to organize (and edit!) the photos you do have, and even to earn an income from your photography (if that’s your desire), you can pick up this bundle worth over $5,000 for just $97.
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