7 min read

How to Get Into Photography: The Complete Guide

7 min read

Last updated:

young man taking photos.

Now more than ever, more individuals are thinking of becoming or have become professional photographers. The most straightforward answer to becoming a professional photographer is buying a good camera and sound equipment, taking some courses to learn photography, practicing your skills, and ultimately deciding which niche to focus on. However, this process is not simple.

Photography is simultaneously an art and a discipline. It demands that you apply your artistic style coupled with lots of discipline. If you want to get into professional photography, this article provides you with the steps, tips, and tricks you’ll need to become a professional photographer.

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This is an essential guide for you to start professional photography, a complete list of the essential tips that you need to follow step by step if you want to start your photography career or get into professional photography.

Learn how to get started or take your shots to the next level in this must-read guide! 

Essential Equipment List

For a pre-professional who wants to get into professional photography, getting the right equipment is first and foremost. Buying a great professional camera is only a tiny part of the equation. This Essential Equipment List will help you get your footing in professional photography:

1. The Right Lenses

Working with the right lens will ensure amazing photos, help you improve your photos, or win the trust of clients. Prime lenses refer to fixed focal length lenses that aren’t enabled for zooming in or out. You could use these lenses to provide you with a sharper focus on your subject to get better quality photos with less diffraction. You can change focal length with a zoom lens, and it gives you more potential for creation. However, a zoom lens with a large aperture can be more expensive.

2. A Tripod

Tripods are portable devices that you can use to stabilize, elevate, and support your flash unit, camera, and other videography equipment while taking photos. They have three legs and a mounting head that can be coupled with the camera to help you take more stable photographs.

3. A Portable Speed Light

You could use an on-camera speed light to provide additional light to your subjects while taking photographs in low-light environments. They’ll help you get more balanced exposures during the daytime and improve your camera’s performance when shooting photos.

4. An External Hard Drive & Memory Cards

You could use an external hard drive and memory cards for more accessible storage and transfer of photos when shooting outside your studio. They are cheap, provide quick access to data, and make it easier to transfer entire data folders.

equipment a photographer needs.

5. Collapsible Reflector Discs

Collapsible reflector discs are essential equipment for all professional photographers. They allow you to modify the light around your subject, enabling you to enhance the amount of light and fill in shadowy areas.

6. ND Filters

ND filters help you shoot in bright light with wide-aperture lenses without overexposing your subject. They allow selective focus and shallow depth of field when shooting under lighting conditions that exceed your camera’s shutter speed capabilities.

7. Cleaning Supplies

You’ll need all appropriate cleaning materials for your camera, lens, and other equipment, including soft-bristled brushes, an air blower, cleaning fluid, cleaning wipes, and microfiber cloth. Using the right cleaning equipment helps prevent damage to your camera or any other equipment while ensuring optimum functioning. Check out our detailed guide on cleaning the lens of your camera.

8. Color Checkers

You’ll need color checkers with graduated colors to get accurate readings of your white balance settings while planning for your shots.

9. Photography Backdrops

If you are learning how to get into photography, the best tip would be to take your first class in a photography studio. Studio photography learning can help you get acclimated to your camera, and you also get to experiment with light, exposure, and how to use shadows. You’ll need to use photography backdrops if you want to achieve the best results.

Photography backdrops are a simple option you could use to add creativity and professionalism to studio photography projects. You can use various materials, including cloth, paper, canvas, muslin, velvet, and even vinyl. There are multiple options to choose from, and you’ll get the chance to experiment and come up with new ideas.

Read on and find out the tips you need to get into professional photography.

women holding a dslr camera.

How To Get Into Professional Photography

1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Camera

You have to understand the tools of trade if you want to be successful in the trade. How should you go about it? I’d suggest that you begin by reading your camera’s manual and end by assembling it and taking various shots.

You don’t have to go through the entire thing; however, there are some essential parts that you may not be familiar with, and reading about them could save you more time later. Reading the camera manual will help you understand how to assemble and disassemble it (no one knows this better than the manufacturers), and taking it out for a ‘spin’ will help you get down most of the basics.

2. Find Your Mentor

Photography, like many other careers, has more than a few pioneers who succeeded in the trade. You’ll need to find yourself a mentor if you want to succeed and surpass your limitations. Your mentor will encourage you and guide you in your development. They’ll help you focus your efforts by setting goals and providing feedback.

However, we are aware that it’s quite challenging to find a direct mentor. You could begin by doing some online research and finding answers to your questions. You could also get involved in exhibitions, photography talks, and seminars. These events could help you get lots of wisdom from experienced photographers and answer questions you didn’t know you needed to ask.

learning from the professionals in photography.

3. Take a Photography Course

If you want to become the best in your career, you’ll need to be ready to put in some time and effort. Taking whichever course you can find will help you stay updated on the latest trends, equipment, and techniques. You can find such courses, both free and premium, in various institutions and even online.

If you find reading somewhat tiring, you could log into YouTube and find many inspiring and educative videos that can help you get more insights into using your camera. You could also read articles on various photography techniques that you could put into action.

4. Expand Your Network & Create a Portfolio

You’ll know when you’ll start improving and rise from novice to amateur status. If you get to this level, the first thing you’ll need to do is network and find referrals and contacts that can help you get the right skills to up your trade. Doing this could also help you get your very first clients and begin earning from your gig.

You could also achieve more by creating a portfolio where you can showcase your skills. You could accomplish this through websites and blogs, platforms that could also be used as marketing brochures. Creating a portfolio will help you communicate your abilities, perspective, and skills. It’ll also help you look more professional and increase the chances that you’ll get noticed.

photo of a studio setup.

5. Check Your Lighting & Mind Your Composition

Lack of light or harsh shadows can affect how your photographs look. Therefore, the best step in this scenario is to get an external light source for your photoshoot or reschedule the photoshoot for a better time.

Also, keep in mind that your photo’s composition will help you tell your story better. Therefore, ensure that you check the arrangement of your photo’s visual elements so that you get to tell your story better. Learn more of these tips and tricks by watching more videos, reading more books, and practicing.

6. Pick the Perfect Background for Your Subject

This depends on your shoot’s location. If you plan on shooting in a natural background, then you could take your time to get the perfect place with abundant natural light. The best time to shoot your photos would be early in the morning or late at night. You could also consider using photography backdrops if you are shooting in the studio.

creative and attractive image of a women.

7. Practice

The key to growing your skill is by practicing. The most famous photographers didn’t become better overnight; they have hundreds of thousands of photographs illustrating their journey, experimentations, failures, and successes. Practicing, failing, and experimenting earn you experience. And experience helps you get better.

Take your camera wherever you can and shoot any subject that remotely triggers your interest. You could read hundreds of books on photography, take tens of courses, and talk about photography daily, but you won’t be able to unlock your photography skills. This is where your passion and artistic need to explore will come in and provide you with the much-needed push.


Photography is an exciting art, and with the right energy and discipline, you are bound to go far and achieve great success. All you’ll have to do is get the right camera and equipment, take the suitable courses, and let your motivation and discipline lift you to success. Also, consider joining our photography community, which offers everything you need to learn and grow.

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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