Skip to Content

Photography Tips for Beginners

My photography business started several years ago when I decided to offer my services as a newborn photographer to a friend. I knew what I was doing. I had just seen our photographer do my son’s pictures the year before. Piece of cake.

The pictures were a disaster.

But the great part about being at the bottom is you can only go up from there!

Recently my dad announced to perfect strangers that his daughter was a professional photographer. (We helped them out and took their picture after they were trying to take a selfie with a DSLR.)

I do consider myself a professional now, but I’m still constantly learning and practicing.

There is so much to learn as a photographer, and everyone starts somewhere. I’m going to give you some tips for how to prepare for a photo shoot. If you’re not to that point quite yet, Pin this article and save it for when you are.

(I took all of these pictures. Even the ones of myself.)

Photography Tips for Beginners - Getting ready for a shoot


I still remember just starting out and not knowing exactly what to expect on my first photo shoots. Luckily they were mostly for friends. But once I got established, I started photographing people I didn’t know. I was a ball of nerves. I knew plenty of posing techniques – Thank you Pinterest!! – but there really isn’t much in the way of a “How-To” guidebook on conducting a photo shoot when you’re first starting out. Or even if you’re a seasoned veteran.

Here are a few things that I make sure I do for every session.

Tips for Beginning Photographers –

Scout your location –If I am unfamiliar with the location, or if I haven’t done a shoot there since last year, I go the day before at the same time as the shoot and look scout it out. I look at the lighting, I take a few pictures and tweak my camera settings. I get familiar with the layout of the area so that I’m leading my clients around aimlessly on the day of the shoot. You only have about one hour of good photo time before clients get restless –especially children. Don’t waste that time trying to find a perfect spot.

Tips for photographers

Be early – Years before I started doing photography on my own, I hired a photographer to take family pictures for us. When we arrived at the location, she was already there and had already scouted places for our shots. I was so impressed by that. Now, I go at least 15 minutes early on the day of so I can greet my clients when they get there. I take that time to wander around and do a last minute check the lighting and shadows. (It sounds odd, but I really take that time to connect to the area.)

Photography tips for beginners

Dress appropriately – It seems like common sense, but here it is anyway. Dress professionally. Yes, I wear jeans to my shoots, but I wear nice ones. No rips, no stains or tears. I also wear a nice top. I do my makeup. I pull my hair out of my face! I put it in a braid, top bun or a ponytail. You don’t want it whipping in your face during a shoot. I don’t wear long necklaces because when I do shots where the camera is pointing right down, they can swing into the shot. Yikes! Think of your feet. During the fall and winter, I wear high boots so I can push through brush and snow. I never wear flip flops since they’re way too casual and they don’t offer much in the way of arch support or traction. You’ll find yourself precariously perched and you don’t want flimsy sandals making you lose your footing.

Photography for beginners

Also, I dress to the weather (short sleeve in summer, long sleeve in winter). It helps me understand how my clients are feeling in the climate. The other day I was doing a session and sweating like a pig. I finally said, “Let’s get out of the sun!” and my clients were relieved.

And lastly, don’t wear bold stripes or vibrant colors. When you get up close shots of clients’ eyes or their glasses, you’re going to see yourself reflected! Or at least your stripes.

Be Confident – Clients don’t need to know that you’re nervous. It’ll make them nervous and they won’t trust you. If something doesn’t turn out right, say, “When I scouted this yesterday…” So they know you did your homework. If you pause too long, tell them what you’re thinking, so they don’t assume you’re drawing up a blank. (And even if you are drawing a blank, talking things through can be very helpful. They know what kinds of shots they want, so let them inspire you.) Your clients are putting their confidence in you. And you know what? You deserve it. I recently told a friend – who happened to double as a client – that I was so busy the morning I did her family shoot that I didn’t have time to be nervous. She paused, looked at me and said, “It never occurred to me that the photographer got nervous.” Let’s just keep that our little secret!

A few Tips for Beginning Photographers

Check your equipment – Make sure you have your camera, battery and memory card. The rest you can do without in a pinch, but those three things are KEY! I know you’re thinking, “How on earth could I forget ____?” Well, when you just came off one photo shoot, you downloaded the pics, and you’re on to the other, sometimes it’s easy to forget you left that TINY inch of plastic in your computer that will ruin the whole shoot if you don’t have it. Or if you’re charging your battery the night before, it may not be at the forefront of your mind to put the battery back in. As a rule of thumb, as you’re leaving the house, turn on your camera and take a picture. Of anything. You’ll be holding the camera in your hand, the power will turn on, and the picture will be recorded on the memory card. Check, check and check.

Tips for beginning photographers

Bonus tip: Keep Smarties in your camera bag. They don’t melt. They’re not messy. They’re not sticky. Almost all kids like them. They’re relatively safe. They’re a great bribe for one last smile!

Good luck! You’ll do great!

What do you think? What tips did I forget?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Monday 31st of August 2015

You're so great at everything you do!

valmg @ Mom Knows It All

Friday 28th of August 2015

These are great tips! Most of these steps even work for someone just taking a trip with the family that wants to record memories.

Jennifer @ Mom Spotted

Thursday 27th of August 2015

I love that Smarties tip! The kids always bail on that one moment you know you have the best shot!

Melissa Pezza

Thursday 27th of August 2015

Thanks for sharing these great tips. I wish I'd had something like this when I first started doing photography for my blog. I had to muddle through and take some pretty horrible shots.

Lori Felix

Thursday 27th of August 2015

I love your tip about keeping smarties with you as an encouragement for cooperation from the little clients. I'm not a very good photographer but I'm always looking for tips on ways to improve. Thanks for these ones.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.