Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Use Your Camera Like a Pro

For those who now have the camera basics figured out, it’s time we share a photography cheat sheet that takes things up a notch.

If you’re a little further along into photography and have mastered the essentials of your camera, you might want to start picking up the pace with some pro tips. Today’s featured photography cheat sheet has a bunch of simple, effective pointers on the next steps to being a pro. The quick guide, put together by Camera Land NYC, outlines seven ways you can use your camera like the pros do. They may seem simple, but they will definitely make a difference either to your photos or your shooting experience.

For example, investing in extra lenses, like some 35mm and 50mm prime lenses, will allow you to take advantage of more than one focal length. Primes are smaller, lighter, and have faster apertures because they have fewer moving parts. We have more about that in this photography cheat sheet for choosing prime lenses. These lenses may be more pricey than kit lenses that cameras typically come with, but the faster apertures will allow you to work with other lighting conditions and achieve more creative results.

Also, never underestimate the power of a good camera strap. You’ll appreciate the comfort provided by a better strap, especially when you’re shooting for long hours. So make sure you look for strength, durability, padding, and the right length when you shop around.

Next, if there are still shooting modes you haven’t tried or familiarized yourself with yet, it’s time to start exploring them. Shooting in manual mode has its benefits, but knowing what the tools at your disposal can do will also help you adapt to the shooting situation at hand.

Also, try not shooting flash all the time; try shooting with a slower shutter speed or larger aperture instead. Chances are, you might not even need a flash in a lot of shooting situations, especially since many of today’s cameras have outstanding performance in low light. Speaking of low light, experimenting with higher ISO (around 3200 to 6400 for DSLRs and 1600 for point and shoots) can also give you great results. However, make sure you keep your camera steady (using a tripod may be in order) when shooting in low light.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t tried shooting in RAW, now would be a good time to master it. RAW creates images with uncompressed data so you have more room to edit your photos using software like Lightroom or Capture One.

Lastly, practice shooting with manual focus. Since your camera automatically selects the foreground when you shoot in autofocus, it may set the focus on the wrong subject or area of your scene. A common example is your subject turning into a silhouette when you have your against the light and your camera decides to autofocus on the brighter area instead.

If you’re looking for more useful photography cheat sheets like this, make sure to also check out the rest of our collection so far!