I Got My First DSLR! ...Now What?! | Part One: Getting Started

I'm very excited to start a new series on digital photography basics! I often have people contact me with questions after receiving their first DSLR camera and I hope this series will provide you what some helpful information to get you started on your photography journey! I received my first DSLR about six years ago and I felt pretty lost and overwhelmed in the beginning. There's so much to learn! But if you work hard and practice, I know you'll make progress and will be happy with the beautiful images you get as a result! I think photography is a skill that is so important to learn because it gives you the ability to capture important memories in a beautiful and artistic way!

I Just Got My First DSLR! ...Now What?!

1. Read Your Manual
I know, I know, you don't want to hear that you have to read your manual. But I promise you that it will help you and teach you SO much! It's so important that you understand your camera and your manual can teach you a lot! Read your manual and then practice some of the concepts you learn. Don't get frustrated when you don't understand everything the manual is saying, you won't in the beginning! Then after you've had some practice, go back and read through the manual again. You may be surprised that you understand a lot more than you did the first time!

Canon 5D Mark III Manual

2. Find Good Resources
There's a lot of great free or inexpensive resources out there to help you learn how to use your DSLR camera! One of my favorite resources is Digital Photography School. I've learned so much from reading their blog! Another great resource is Creative Live. Creative Live offers free education on photography and a variety of other topics if you watch classes as they are being broadcasted. If you really want to watch a class and have missed the broadcast, you can always buy the class. Also check out YouTube. There's a lot of helpful videos on specific camera techniques and other photography tips. One book that has helped me a lot and is great for beginners is Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I recommend this book to anyone starting out!

3. Practice, practice, practice!
Take your camera with you everywhere you go! Practice taking pictures in different situations and in different lighting. Learn what to do if you're taking a picture of a flower or a picture of a child running. Know how to change your settings if you're shooting outside at noon, or at sunset, or in a dimly lit room. Having the skills to know how to adapt to various situations only comes from education and practice! Plus if you're anything like me, you learn a lot better by doing something and not just learning about it. If you're interested in getting better at photographing people, ask friends and family if they'll be models for you as you practice your skills. I did that a lot in the beginning!

Cute Puppy | NC Family Photographer

4. Take a Class
Consider finding a class local to your area or online. There's a lot of great beginner classes out there! Shameless plug: I'm thinking about offering a beginner DSLR class in the future so stay tuned for more details on that as well!

Next week I'll be covering exposure. I think understanding exposure and shooting in "manual" mode is one of the most important skills you need to develop. It took me a few years before I learned to shoot in "manual" and I wish I pushed myself to learn right after getting my camera instead of relying on auto settings! Check back in two weeks for the next post in this series!

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