How to Be A Great Photographer Without An Expensive Camera


By Amanda Molloy

Digital single-lens reflex cameras, also known as DSLRs, range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, making the hobby of photography seem intimidating if you’re on a budget. The truth is, owning expensive gear is not a necessary step to taking great photos. While the camera may capture the image, it’s the photographer that makes the magic happen. Here are a few ways you can amp up your photo skills without breaking the bank.


1. Get The Technical Basics Down

Whether you’re shooting on a $300 camera or a $3,000 camera, taking your DSLR off automatic and learning about manual mode is the first step to taking better photos. Mastering the ins and outs of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as well as understanding how these elements work together, will help you produce a properly exposed image. These terms can be daunting to a beginner, but as you utilize them, they will become second nature to you. Books, YouTube tutorials, and photography blogs are also going to be a huge help while you’re first starting out.


2. Understand The Importance Of Composition

Understand how elements like framing, leading lines, and the rule of thirds can play into a successful composition. While photographing, test out a new arrangement or an unusual angle; you never know how little changes can drastically improve your image. Photography becomes much more satisfying when you’re shooting with a vision in mind and you’re able to watch that vision come to life.


3. Buy Yourself a Good Lens

A pricey camera body won’t produce good images if you’re shooting with a cheap lens. A lens with a larger aperture (for example, f/1.4) will provide you with more flexibility and the ability to shoot in a wider range of lighting situations. Camera stores that sell used equipment are your best bet for finding awesome lenses at affordable prices.


4. Learn How To Edit

Post-processing tools are a great way to take your photography to the next level. An underexposed or an overexposed image can be saved by altering elements like contrast, brightness, and shadows. Adobe offers a photography plan that includes two of the best editing softwares out to date—Lightroom and Photoshop. Both come at a combined monthly fee of $9.99. There are also several mobile photo editing apps available if you’re not ready to make that kind of financial commitment. Check out your university’s computer labs and media resources as well. Some schools offer Adobe programs to students for free.


5. Figure Out What You Love To Photograph

Do you seek the adrenaline rush that comes along with live music photography? Do you feel more at ease shooting the beauty and simplicity of landscapes? Do you wish to capture raw human emotion through portraits? There’s nothing wrong with being involved in multiple areas of photography, but having a main focus and shooting style will give a consistent feel to your body of work.


6. Use Social Media As Inspiration

See someone whose work inspires you? Do they have a color scheme, editing style, or attention to detail that you’d like to emulate in your own photography? Follow them. Don’t be discouraged if your work doesn’t look as impressive as your favorite photographers—you can always learn from them. Everyone has their own unique style, and using accomplished photographers’ feeds for inspiration can be a way to influence and motivate yourself.


7. Shoot, Shoot, and Shoot Some More

Learning how to take a good photo won’t make you a better photographer if you don’t practice. If you’re a portrait photographer, find an interesting location and have a friend model for you. If you prefer street photography, take your camera with you everywhere and pull it out when inspiration strikes. As long as you continue to practice, your pictures will get better with time.


8. Have Fun!

Photography has the ability to take an ordinary moment and turn it into something beautiful. It’s a hobby that can be just as fun as it is rewarding—in fact, some of my favorite memories have been made with a camera in my hands. Never stop learning, never stop practicing, and never stop having fun.


Photos by Amanda Molloy

Edited by Danielle Germain

Amanda Molloy