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Students, Kids & Beginners Photography Starter Guide

Want to start photography? It's a great hobby to keep you busy and once you've got the basics down, you can experiment to your heart's content. Here's our starter guide for those who are interested.

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If you're a student, or if you have kids (of all ages) locked down with you at the moment, now's a great time to get stuck into a project and a fantastic one, with loads to explore and learn both physically and mentally, is of course photography! It's a very wide-ranging project but a very rewarding one if you put the work in.

Here, we've created a list of resources, facts, techniques and more to help you learn about the craft, choose the right kit and challenge yourself to put your newfound skills to the test by taking part in a range of challenges. Up for it?! Let's dive in!


The basics of photography


Find your way around your camera:

  • The key to being able to adjust your settings and adapt to the scene in front of you is to know your camera inside out – experiment with the controls and understand how to get to the features you need.
  • At a basic level for kids, this might be the shutter button, power button, and switching between video mode and photo mode to get the shot before the opportunity is missed.
  • More technical controls like exposure compensation, ISO adjustments, and which dials do what can be explored on more advanced camera models to make the workthrough process of actually taking an image smooth.
  • Check out the manual! (we know, boring, but very useful to learn the layout of your specific model.)


The exposure triangle

Exposure triangle

At the core of understanding how taking an image works, is the exposure triangle. Consisting of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO – these three elements combine and work in conjunction to give you a balanced image.

These 3 elements will balance each other out – for example if you want to shoot with a longer shutter speed, selecting a smaller aperture will help keep the image exposure balanced. If you want to shoot with a wide aperture for a blurred background, making the shutter speed faster will allow you to capture a natural-looking image. When shooting in the dark, upping the ISO will allow you to lessen your shutter speed slightly to minimise blur. Sometimes, noise can add a grittiness that suits the photographic subject. Have a look at the triangle diagram above to help you make sense of it.



 The aperture refers to the size of the hole that lets light on to the camera sensor through the lens. This can be a little confusing, as the smaller the hole, the larger the numerical value used to represent it is. Aperture sizes are measured in f/ stops, and the smaller the number, the wider the opening.




Aperture also affects how much of your image is in focus – using a wide open aperture will throw the background of your image out of focus, whereas using a smaller one (larger number!) will keep the image sharp from front to back.

Depending on your camera or smartphone you'll have a different range of apertures in manual mode, but these days even compact cameras and smartphones have a manual mode that you can experiment with allowing you to change the aperture and alter the look of your image.



Here are some articles to help you explore aperture:


Shutter speed

coastal slow shutter

The shutter speed is how fast the image is taken. It's measured in fractions of a second. Faster shutter speeds freeze the action, for example 1/8000 of a second, whereas slower shutter speeds allow blur in a shot. For example, a shutter speed of a couple of seconds can be used to create artistic blur on waterfalls or fast-moving objects.

This isn't so great if you are hand-holding the camera but if you set it up on a tripod near a waterfall for example, then you can blur the running water to create a smooth effect.

The longer you expose your shot for the more light is hitting the sensor and so generally you'll want to use a smaller aperture (larger number) to balance this out. For exposures of a few seconds or more, you might need an ND (Neutral Density) filter to minimise the light getting to the sensor and stopping an overexposure.


Check out these articles to learn more: 



noise in a photo

ISO refers to the sensor's sensitivity to light. The lower the number, the lower the sensitivity, and generally, the less noise (pixellated light and dark parts) the image has.

Upping the ISO really only has one benefit, and that's allowing you to see more of an image in low light. But up it too far, and noise will spoil the shot. Modern cameras often have an ISO range up to 64,000 or more, but very high ISO is generally best avoided. Generally, ISO 100-1600 is the usable range.


These articles will help you to understand further: 


These 3 elements will balance each other out – for example if you want to shoot with a longer shutter speed, selecting a smaller aperture will help keep the image exposure balanced. If you want to shoot with a wide aperture for a blurred background, making the shutter speed faster will allow you to capture a natural-looking image. When shooting in the dark, upping the ISO will allow you to lessen your shutter speed slightly to minimise blur. Sometimes, noise can add a grittiness that suits the photographic subject. Have a look at the triangle diagram above to help you make sense of it.


Most cameras will have a live view setting in manual mode, allowing you to see what an image will look like and you can adjust the settings to see how it will turn out. Experiment – this is the best way of learning.

ePHOTOzine put together a range of articles called Photography Academy, which are handy if you need help understanding the basics. Make sure you check out our techniques and features sections for more, too.


Books To Teach You From Home

Photo books

Once you've exhausted ePHOTOzine's resources, or you want to have a break from the computer, books are a great way to give you a structured learning pathway through photography. There are many available, but we have put together a guide to buffing up your photography knowledge during lockdown, which includes our pick of books for beginners wanting to learn photography from scratch, through to more specialised books on genres on landscape and macro photography.


Check out the list



Best cameras for younger children

kid taking picture

Pique their interest at a young age, and the photography hobby could stay with them for a lifetime. ePHOTOzine has an extensive guide to cameras for kids, and from toddling tots to ten year-olds and teens, there are cameras out there to suit them all. 

Particularly popular for younger children is the Vtech Kidizoom, which features robust rubber handles, lots of fun camera modes and even built-in games. Older kids might appreciate an instant camera, or the Nikon Coolpix W150, which is available in funky colours and designed with the entire family in mind.


Best Kids Cameras



Choosing The Right Camera

camera selection

Knowing what camera to buy, or to upgrade to, can be a nightmare but you really just need to consider what you'll be photographing and whether the cameras you're looking at will fulfill your needs.

ePHOTOzine's 'What Camera Should I Buy?' guide is a handy tool if you're not sure, running through all the different types of cameras and some pros and cons of each.

For kids and teens that don't want the bulk, a compact model might suit, whereas those studying photography for school or college might want to consider a basic DSLR or mirrorless model to enable them to change lenses and experiment more widely with focal lengths.

Read the camera buying guide



Don't Want To Carry A Camera? Choose A Smartphone With Decent Photography Capability

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

We can't hide the fact that smartphones are now more capable than ever when it comes to photography, and that if you're short on space when out and about, they save you from carrying a camera as well as a phone.

Many now have sophisticated manual modes too, as well as filters of course, allowing you to experiment more with your captures. We have a guide to things you should look out for in a smartphone camera, as well as top lists for different price points:


Ideas for challenges

With photography the world really is your oyster and ePHOTOzine is brimming with creative content to help you along with ideas. Make sure you give the site a search to see what you can find.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get the kids motivated to try something new, so take a look at our article on getting the kids interested in photography if you're having trouble.

These are difficult times and our movements are quite restricted so ePHOTOzine has been working hard to bring you relevant content that's helpful during this time:



Things you can do right here on ePHOTOzine

ePHOTOzine is a photography hub and it's not just about reading to improve your skills – it's an active photographic community that you can be a part of. Get stuck in and see what there is to keep you entertained.


Upload to the ePz gallery

Once you've been out shooting, a great way to gain confidence in sharing your work and building up a portfolio is to use the resources right here on ePHOTOzine! Create an account (it's free) and upload some images.

You can choose to upload one image a day into the gallery, a great opportunity to pick out your favourite image and show it to the community. If you want constructive feedback on your photo, you can choose to upload it to the critique gallery.

Create a niche for yourself – what kind of photography are you passionate about? What do you want your portfolio to say about your work? Over time, you'll build up an impressive body of work.


Enter a site competition

There's an area in the forums which is dedicated to photo competitions – there's always at least one photo competition a day for you to get involved in.

  • Daily competition: Every day a new forum topic appears with a theme, into which you can upload your best images on the theme for the chance to win a 32GB MicroSD card from Samsung! A winner is picked each week, and you can enter as often as you like. The photos don't have to be taken on the day, but if you're able to shoot the subject from your home, or nearby and you want to take a fresh capture, go for it!
  • Monthly competition: Our generous sponsors often give away great photography prizes – everything from camera bodies to tripods and accessories – in our monthly competitions. The theme will be clearly noted, and free members can enter up to 2 images. Always check the T&Cs for the monthly competitions, as who is legible to enter can vary.
  • Just for fun: Sometimes, we'll post bonus competitions, or challenges, to get you thinking creatively and sharing your photos with the community. Join in – it's a great opportunity to get chatting to other members and getting to know everyone better.


Ask questions in the forum

If you're struggling with understanding something, or you want advice on kit or techniques, why not ask in the forums? Our members are a friendly bunch who are only too happy to help those starting out in the craft and sharing their knowledge. No question is too simple – if you don't ask, you'll never know!


Further reading: editing at home

Editing photo

During these unprecedented times you may find yourself at home with lots of photos on your SD card. How about reading up on post-processing and editing images using software?


If you have Photoshop or Lightroom, we have some on-site guides to books that can help you learn the craft:


Tell your mates!

If you enjoy photography and you find that it helps you to stay focused in the uncertain times, tell your friends all about it! Share the knowledge bank that is ePHOTOzine far and wide – let's make photography part of everyone's daily or weekly routine.


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