This time of year is filled with new photographers, thanks to those who received DSLRs for Christmas. It's exciting, getting a camera that is capable of great things. You probably have intentions of documenting your family, or nature, or your travels. Before I was a RI family photographer, those are all the things I was photographing.
But using a DSLR is also frustrating at first. There's the vision in your head of what you want your photos to look like, and then there's reality. The two are often miles apart. Your photos are not in focus, they're dark, you can't figure out how to get a blurry background, and everyone else's photos are awesome but yours aren't.
Let me tell you something. It takes time. You will get to where you want to go in your photography journey. Be patient with yourself. See those two photos below? I took them both, years apart. In between, I did a lot of learning and practicing, and still constantly learn new things. If I can do this, so can you.
It can be confusing to know where to begin when you're first starting out with photography. There are a lot of resources, so many things to know, and seemingly endless gear available. I've put together some tips aimed at helping new photographers start off on the right foot. Check them out below!
GET THE BOOK "UNDERSTANDING EXPOSURE" BY BRYAN PETERSON.
I can't recommend this book enough. It does a really effective job of breaking down all the elements in the exposure triangle so you can understand what each does and how they work together. This book is a great resource for simply understanding how exposure happens, but it also will teach you how to shoot in manual mode, which is something that often seems confusing and elusive to new photographers.
THE INTERNET IS A TREASURE TROVE OF INFORMATION.
You can get an entire photography education online. There are a plethora of Facebook forums where you can chat with like-minded people and learn. There's YouTube, where you can find videos on practically any photo-related topic. Phlearn, Fro Knows Photo, and Adorama TV are just a few of the great photography YouTube channels out there. Websites like Fstoppers and PetaPixel are FULL of information. There are paid memberships like Kelby One, Lynda.com, and my own private online mentoring group. In short, there are a huge amount of resources available for the learning photographer.
DON'T UPGRADE YOUR GEAR. YET.
Gear lust is real. I get it. It can be tempting to spend money on new lenses, a new camera, or any number of other photography-related items with the hope that your photos improve. Don't fall into this trap. It's an expensive way to learn that new gear is not going to make your photos better. Learn on the gear you have. Learn it up and down, front to back. You CAN make wonderful photos with what you have, really. Upgrade when your current gear is holding you back from what you want to do. Until then, rock what you have.
GET A PHOTOGRAPHY BUDDY.
Learning along with someone can make your journey easier and more fun. Find a local buddy on sites like meetup.com or Facebook photography forums that are local to you. Or, find an online buddy and swap messages, photos, and tips back and forth. Bonus: you can make plans to travel and visit one another at some point!
PRINT YOUR PHOTOS.
Photos belong on your walls, on your shelves, and in albums that you can look at. You may feel like your photos aren't where you want them to be, but we are often our own worst critic. You are capturing memories. Those deserve to be seen!
MOST IMPORTANTLY: ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Have fun. It's a wonderful ride.