So you got a camera for Christmas, now what?

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Santa brought lots of cool new gadgets and toys to the good little girls and boys this year, some of you even got some nice new cameras!  I’ve had friends receive the Sony RX100 V, which is a monster of a point and shoot camera, another couple got the incredibly priced Canon Rebel T6, and I actually upgraded to a Sony a6500 two days ago!

It’s awesome opening a new camera.  When you first hold it in your hand you don’t think as much about the camera itself as you do about the incredible images you want to take with it, be they pictures of friends, family, amazing landscapes, or the best selfie the world has ever seen #obvi

Lately a few people have come up to me saying “Hey I got this great new camera but what now?”  It’s a reasonable question and I’ll try to give you a few steps here to get you started.

"How do I get my pictures to look like THAT?!"

“How do I get my pictures to look like THAT?!”

Step 1: Buy this book and read it

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is the best book for learning photography.  It is camera agnostic, meaning it teaches you the fundamentals of photography (composition, exposure triangle, etc.) without you having to buy a specific version depending on the camera you have.  He explains things simply with great illustrations to help you understand the concept.  I wish I would’ve read this book earlier than I did, it would have saved me a lot of missed pictures!  It runs $15-20 and is absolutely worth every penny.  It will get you out of Auto mode and empower you to truly control your camera instead of pointing and shooting and hoping for the best.

Step 2: Take your camera with you EVERYWHERE you can

I know this seems kind of obvious, but so many people only bring out their cameras for special occasions.  Obviously bring your camera for special occasions but you also need practice, not just with your camera but with your eye.  As you walk down a street, what looks interesting?  Is there pleasing geometry from buildings?  Take a picture of it.  Are there amazing croissants in the window of a bakery in Paris?  Take a picture of them.  Basically let your eye tell you what is beautiful and immediately take a picture of that thing (using the skills you learned from the Understanding Exposure book).  As much as your camera is awesome and fun you must also train your eyes to spot those perfect picture moments.

Step 3: Share your pictures!

It’s a bit weird but I still get nervous sharing pictures sometimes.  It’s a slice of the universe which I saw in a moment in time and it feels really personal sharing it with people, like if they’re not interested in it then why was I?  But that’s part of the excitement!  Photography is not documenting THE world as much as it is documenting YOUR world.  Every time you take a picture you are capturing a moment in time which will never exist again.  No other photographer can take that picture either, a common photography saying is “move one foot to the left and you see a different universe”.  Share the pictures you like the best (not all of them) with your friends and family.

Step 4: Understand they’re not all winners

According to my Adobe Lightroom catalog I’ve taken around 28000 pictures this year.  Out of those probably only a few hundred have been keepers.  I’m not saying that you should just be constantly taking pictures (spraying and praying) but understand that you’re going to have some good pictures and then others won’t really work out that well.  Part of learning photography is being able to judge your own work and pick the winners from the not so winners.

 

Ok, now it’s time for you to ask me questions in the comments below!

1 Comment

  1. Step 3 is such an excellent way to put it!

    Reply

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