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    HomeEDUCATIONHow to Become a Photographer: What to Study?

    How to Become a Photographer: What to Study?


    If you want to become a really good photographer and are just starting in this field, you need to learn a lot of theory. Of course, practical skills are important too, but you have to explore the basics first. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the components of learning and developing as a photographer. If you want to find interesting tutorial articles, then read the material on Skylum’s blog. You can find a lot there for both beginners and professional photographers. For example, one of the articles explains very simply and in detail how to add background to a photo.

    Let’s start with what you need to master to learn how to take pictures and consistently get good results on a shoot. We will talk about the technical settings of the camera, working with lighting, photo processing (retouching) in graphic editors, expressive tools of photography, and composition in particular.

    Technical camera settings

    This is what a photographer needs to know and be able to do in order only get the results you expect. We recommend that you take a special photography course on technical camera settings. Of course, you can try to learn some of the materials on your own, but with the help of a good instructor, you will learn the material much faster.

    Even the most wonderful creative idea can stumble upon the impossibility to implement it technically. And it’s a shame if you had an interesting shoot, and everything looked great on the camera screen, but at home, on the big monitor it turned out to be a failure. All in all, at least it is worth trying to find out what technical settings are needed to make your pictures look good, and where these technical settings are on your camera.

    Working with light

    Light is a photographer’s main tool. To understand it is as important as for an artist to know how to work with brushes and paints. By the way, the word “photography” translates from Greek exactly as “drawing with light”. Even if you are not planning to work in a studio, you need to understand how to create a light and shadow picture on the street. Light can emphasize volume and form, or intensify a gloomy mood with deep shadows, or vice versa, creating a warmer feeling in the viewer by removing deep shadows.

    Learning to work with light is usually much easier and more exciting than studying the theory in the first stage. Here, too, we recommend taking courses if possible. It can also be online training. The main thing is that the instructor can present the material systematically and consistently.

    Photo processing and retouching

    After a photo is taken, the camera applies to it the default algorithms for processing. The camera (or rather its built-in processing program) adjusts the contrast, color saturation, etc. Note, that It is essential to study adding a background to a photo because this is a very common editing request.

    Let’s also highlight a few basic points here:

    • There is no such thing as an utterly unprocessed photo, nor has there ever been one. When shooting pictures on film, the photographer, guided by what picture he wants to see, as a result, chooses the film, the paper to print the pictures on, and the chemistry with which this process will take place. For example, there is a film that gives a contrasting image, there is one that adds warm hues.
    • In addition, there was a separate profession – retoucher (a person who, in particular, could draw on the film, achieving the desired result of the photographer). You might as well leave the processing to the algorithms in the camera, and not work on the images after shooting.
    • If you want to influence the result, you have either to learn to process photos yourself or give them to a retoucher, who will further process them in a graphic editor (Photoshop, for instance). 

    Now professional photographers use other photo editors with AI-based tools. We recommend you try Luminar Neo because it will take you much less time to master all its features. In the meantime, the result of processing will be the same as that of Photoshop. Even if you don’t know how to put a background on a picture, with Luminar Neo you can do it very quickly.

    If we are talking about professional photography, it is advisable to take a basic course in photo processing. After it, you will, firstly, understand what possibilities you have, and secondly, you will be able to talk to the retoucher in the same language. Now many courses are held in the format of online training and it is very convenient.

    Composition and expressive tools of photography

    A separate item worth mentioning is such a tool as composition. Several people can perceive the same shot differently. What to one is a masterpiece to another could be a completely uninteresting picture. Perception depends on life experience, education, and cultural level. This does not mean that some perception is better or worse, it just differs from person to person. Nevertheless, some general rules work for most viewers.

    The more accurately you understand to who you are addressing a photo, the easier it is to know how it will be perceived, and what tools can be used to enhance the mood of the frame. And to understand this, it makes sense to study composition – the science of visual perception of pictures and the world in general.

    We have described the composition of the last item, but you can start studying it in parallel with mastering the technical basis. The earlier you start to understand the theory of visual perception of the world, the easier it will be to make shots that attract attention. Remember, you can always read about how to add background to photos and other interesting articles on Skylum’s blog.

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