How to get started in photography

Sensoji Temple in Asakusa TokyoYou walk into a camera shop. Today is the day you have decided that you will take better pictures. Diligently you listen to the salesperson explain the features and benefits of each camera. He or she dazzles you with words like ISO, F-Stop, and Focal Length.

Politely you listen to the description, at times wondering if they are still speaking English. Soon you narrow down to the one camera. Excitedly you make your purchase and head home. You unbox the camera, put the battery on the charger and anxiously wait.

Two to three hours later the battery finishes charging and you put the memory card and battery into the device. With surging anticipation you flip on the on switch. Your excitement is quickly replaced by confusion. If the camera has simple menus that are simple enough to understand, you sit there and wonder:

“What am I going to take pictures of?”

After a few moments go by, and taking a few pictures of junk sitting around the room, you quietly slip the camera into a case or drawer, and don’t touch it again until the next family event or gathering. Of course when this event comes, the camera is left in auto and your satisfaction with the pictures is somewhere between “meh its ok” to “I wish I could take better photos”.

If the above story describes your situation, this post is for you!

There is a lot of terminology to learn in photography, but there is a huge first step most people neglect when getting started in photography.

WHAT DO I LOVE TAKING PICTURES OF?

If you have not answered this question, photography will seldom leave you feeling satisfied. Photography is what we do to record memories of what we are passionate about. It is very hard to get excited about photos of the random things sitting on our desk.

Therefore I would recommend before you decide before even going to the camera store is to decide what you love taking photos of. If you have difficulty answering this consider the following:

What pictures have really blown me away?

Is it a specific kind of picture? (People? Landscapes? Animals? Eccentric?)
Where do I regularly look at photos? (Online? Facebook? Family Functions?)

If you consider these things, you will be able to step into a camera shop and confidently state what you are looking for. Telling the camera sales person that you want to just “take better photos”, doesn’t really give them enough information to make a solid recommendation that you will go home absolutely loving.

When you get home, start taking pictures of what you are passionate about playing with different camera settings to see what each change does to the resulting photo. After this go and pick up a photo magazine and start flipping through the pages looking at the articles. A lot of great magazines exist that will explain what each setting does, and will be accompanied with photos to illustrate the resulting photographic results.

I would warn a lot of you; a lot of photo magazines do have artistic nudes sections. If this is something that offends you, do make sure you take a quick flip through the magazine to make sure it suits your tastes.

If you have something that you have found helpful when you were learning photography please comment or email me. I would love to hear from you!

Till next time
Chris

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