For people (especially men) who refuse to read instructions but want to become a great photographer quickly. Ha!
Take a head and shoulders picture of a person outside in the shade, or on an overcast day, or backlit by the sun with an 18-55mm lens, (or any lens) Set your camera on P (Program), ISO 400, with the flash popped up.
Note: When a professional photographer says he or she is going to shoot a “head shot” or “head and shoulders shot,” it’s not meant literally. The shooter doesn’t mean a straight-on image like those on a driver’s license, passport, or mug shot. The image maker means a close photo of a person cropped approximately at the lower chest, or somewhere below the bust area.
Reasons why that’s the first assignment:
Everyone has to start somewhere. It’s the same in learning every type of skill from playing a musical instrument to cooking to riding a motorcycle. No matter if you can afford the best equipment or tools, you must learn how to properly use them.
When it comes to learning how to take better pictures, no matter what style you want to eventually master, your road will be smoother if you’re able to create good photos in a short amount of time.
Relate that concept to learning how to play a musical instrument. If you can play a tune in a relatively short amount of time, it’s both satisfying and motivating. The same is true if you’re able to cook a delicious meal on your first try or stay safely upright during your initial foray on two wheels.
Iconic painters didn’t begin by throwing globs of paint at a canvas or painting dripping timepieces or creating masterpieces with a few strokes of black paint. No matter their eventual style, each could paint a portrait.
While most art instructors begin with a subject such as a bowl of fruit, flower arrangement, or well-known paining to copy; my first photography lesson is to create a portrait of a human. Not a formal portrait, but a casual head and shoulders photo of a person…shot outside.
Finding a person to photograph is much easier and more convenient than finding a sunset, waterfall, flower, animal, or rainbow. Everyone knows someone.
Photographing a person will teach you about exposure, lighting, camera angles, composition, flash fill, and more. Plus, you’ll impress people, possibly more than showing them a scenic or any photo without a human.
It’s a fact that most people photograph people – kids and other loved ones, coworkers, friends and neighbors, etc. That’s because after a scenic or nature photographer comes home from the wilds, there’s usually people. People on special days and holidays, at parties and other functions, and a true photographer will whip out a camera and shoot a few.
When a family must flee its home in the wake of a natural disaster, one of the most treasured possession to take is the family photo album. These days it might be an external drive loaded with photographic images. Everything can be replaced except for moments in time that will never happen again.
Give the first lesson a shot.